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Church Ministry (Part 2)

I’m continuing my discussion of the ministry list given by Paul in First Corinthians, chapter 12.

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

I’ve already looked at apostles, prophets, teachers, and workers of miracles.  Now I’ll continue from there.

Those having Gifts of Healing.  This is another of those ministries that God is going to restore in these last days before Christ’s return.  Every local church should have a ministry of healing prayer.

In his book, James tells us that if we’re sick we’re to call the church elders.  This means that he fully expected it to be a part of every local congregation.  It’s unfortunate that many churches don’t even believe that healing was made available to all at the cross.

I believe that God has a calling on certain people in the church to have a healing ministry.  I also believe that this could explain why so many people are not healed.  Those with whom God has entrusted these gifts are not giving them out.  Do you have a call to this great ministry?

Those Able to Help Others.  This is from the Greek word for help or relief.  It comes from a compound word that means to take turns holding on to something.

In other words, there’s something that needs to be done and we take turns meeting that need.  It could really be applied to any support ministry in the church.  This could include anything from cleaning the church, to ushering, to feeding the hungry.

There are so many support ministries that are needed for the church to run smoothly.  The unfortunate thing is that in most churches 10% of the people do 90% of the work.  That’s not the way God sees it. Everyone is called to do something.

Those with Gifts of Administrations.  The literal Greek of this word is steerage.  Those who can steer the ship.  This is an important concept that’s missed in many churches.

There are two levels of leadership in the church.  There’s the apostolic – the pastoral team – who spend time before God finding out the vision for where the Lord is taking the church.  Then there’s the leadership team who steer their departments in the direction of that vision.

I’ve seen this principle abused in a number of ways.  There are churches where the pastor is merely an employee of the church committee.  That’s absolutely anti-scriptural.

Then there are other churches where the pastor puts himself in charge of everything.  That’s just as wrong.

We need to follow scriptural patterns if we don’t want our church to run aground.

Those Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues.  This is a reference to the ministry of intercession in the church.  There are those who are called to spend a large quantity of time in private prayer in the spirit.

These prayer warriors are praying for people and situations that, for the most part, they don’t even know about.  In the natural, we can only pray according to our limited human thinking.  When we pray in tongues – in the spirit – we’re praying God’s will, even if we don’t know what we’re praying about.  It’s a much-needed ministry.

As God continues to restore these ministries we’ll see a growth in the power of the church.  Signs, wonders, and miracles will be on the increase.  Make it your prayer that God would use you in any area that He sees fit.  Then be expecting great things from the Lord!

Question: What’s your vision of the church that Christ will return for?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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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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Focusing on Christ

The Apostle Paul had a lot to say about the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.  The Corinthian church needed to check their attitudes.  What about us?  How do we apply these truths?

In the early church, they had a weekly common meal that they called the Agape (Love) Feast.  The whole church would come to one place and eat together.  At the end of the meal, they would receive the Communion elements of bread and wine.

They did this because the Lord’s Supper was originally a part of the Jewish Passover meal.  When Jesus celebrated it with His disciples, it came at the end of the Passover dinner.  So in the early days of the church, Communion was celebrated in the context of a dinner.

In Corinth, this devolved into a form of divisiveness.  Look at Paul’s words to them.

When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else.  One remains hungry, another gets drunk.  Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in?  Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing?  What shall I say to you?  Shall I praise you for this?  Certainly not!
1 Corinthians 11:20-22

Apparently, what had started out as a common meal, had turned into an “every man for himself” event.  The rich would bring a lavish spread.  The poor would come with a loaf of bread or nothing at all.  But unlike our potluck dinners, where everything is shared, each family only ate what they brought.

This angered Paul.  Instead of bringing the body of Christ together, it became a way for the rich to show off.  What they were eating became the showpiece of the dinner.

For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Paul makes the purpose of the Lord’s Supper very clear.  It’s not about me and my exquisite taste in food.  It all revolves around remembering Christ and what He accomplished for us.

The Lord is the central figure.  We remember that His body went to the cross, bearing all of our shame, sickness, and pain.  We remember His blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sin.  In these simple acts of eating and drinking, we show what Christ has done for us and look forward to His return.

Jesus said that if He was lifted up, He would draw everyone to Himself.  The Lord’s Supper should have brought the church together.  Instead, it focused on the rift between rich and poor.

In our culture, many churches only celebrate it once a month at the end of a service…if at all.  A lot of Christians receive it as a mere tradition of the church.  It’s more than that.

It should be an important time when we focus our attention on Christ and what He’s done for us.  We should attach our faith to it as we receive the elements.  We should see ourselves as receiving the full benefits of what Christ paid for on the cross.

When you celebrate Communion, let it draw you closer to the Lord and His work in you.

Question: How do you remember Christ in Communion?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2019 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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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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Spiritual Intervention

In my last post, I started looking at Paul’s response to rebellious sin in the life of a believer.  The goal of leadership should be that of restoration rather than punishment.  Now Paul takes it a step further.

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit.  And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.  When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5

This is another of those passages that we sometimes misunderstand.  The reason is that we don’t see who is being addressed.  We make the assumption that this is referring to the entire church.  That’s not the case.

In my last two posts, the tone of Paul’s writing should make it clear that he’s speaking to the leadership of the church.  He’s not talking about issues that brand new believers should be dealing with.

Paul was a seasoned prayer warrior in the spirit.  You can rest assured that powerful intercessory prayer was going up for this church.  In the spirit, Paul was standing with them.

By the wisdom of God, Paul knew what needed to be done.  He had already decided the outcome.  He didn’t need to be physically present in their meeting.

The controversial issue is what Paul describes next.  The very language should give us insight into what’s happening here.  “Assembled in the name of the Lord…with you in spirit…the power of the Lord Jesus is present.”

He’s not talking about a regular church meeting.  This is a private meeting, only for those who are spiritually mature enough to handle an issue like this.  New believers aren’t graced for this type of challenge.

There’s also an assumption we can make about all of this.  That is, that the man in question had been confronted by the true nature of his sin on more than one occasion.  We can also assume that he rejected all spiritual counsel, and made a decision to continue on in the pathway which was blatantly against the known will of God.

As a result, the mature leaders should have decided to take action that would keep him from totally destroying his life.  That’s what Paul is talking about here.

We need to understand that this is not a meeting to remove the offending Christian from the church organization.  It’s not an excommunication.

This is a group of believers, who are strong in the Lord, setting out on a spiritual intervention.  The goal is to place this person in spiritual rehab in order to straighten out their walk with the Lord.  The attitude during this whole process should be that of love and concern for a fellow member of the body of Christ.

The term, hand over to Satan, literally means to surrender to Satan.  This means that they lose all their blessings and privileges as a child of God.

This person was adamantly refusing to live by God’s standards.  Now he was going to get a first-hand view of what the enemy’s kingdom is really like.  The hope is that this person’s level of discomfort will bring him to the point of repentance.

As a side note, it looks to me as if the Corinthian leaders obeyed Paul’s directive.  2 Corinthians 2:5-11 sounds like the man in question repented and was restored to full fellowship with the Lord.

In Christ, restoration is always the goal in dealing with sin.

Question: What’s that level of concern in the modern church over the issue of sin in the lives of believers?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Power of God, The Church

 

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The Adolescent Church

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church sounds like he’s writing to a group of adolescents.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical.  If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence.  Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own.  You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in.  We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us.  We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with.  The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood.  This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways.  We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord.  Until this happens, we’ll never attain our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up.  Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth.  They’re saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention.  His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo.  It’s where we get our English word morph.  We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics.  When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed.  That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me.  I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived.  This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life, it happens almost unnoticed.  Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore.  As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level.  The church as a whole needs to walk in adulthood.  This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Leadership, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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