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Our Resting Place

I’ve been posting from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Specifically, we’ve been looking at the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues.  The Corinthians were misusing these gifts and Paul was bringing correction.

Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
1 Corinthians 14:20

Paul is giving them some much-needed encouragement to grow up.  The word for thinking is referring to the thought processes that control our actions.

Children are, by nature, very selfish.  They don’t do things to be evil, but they are simply not thinking about the people around them.  They know what they want and that’s all that they see.

As we mature, we learn to take other people’s needs into account.  Paul wants us to see that our thinking should bring our actions in line with the love of Christ.  When we desire to bless others, we’re becoming more mature.

Maturity comes as we rest in Christ and learn from Him.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

In telling the church that they need to grow up, Paul refers to an Old Testament Scripture.  It talks about people speaking in a foreign language, yet Israel not listening.  I believe this is something that Paul preached to them while he was at their church, and now he’s reminding them.

What’s this all about?  To understand it, we need to see the whole verse from the book of Isaiah the prophet.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” — but they would not listen.
Isaiah 28:11-12

Within this verse are three words that speak to us about the place of resting in God.  The first means a quiet resting place away from any troubling distractions.  The next means a place where you can settle down and abide in safety.  The third means to rest and be refreshed.

These are the things that Paul was reminding the church through referencing this passage.  They need to grow up in their thinking.  They should be seeking the welfare of others in the gathering of the saints.

But how is it that you grow up in your thinking?  It only comes as you spend quality time resting in Christ.  Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him if we want to live that abundant life.

In previous posts, we saw that prayer in the spirit (tongues) builds us up, personally.  That’s the place of rest and growth.  As I regularly pray in the spirit in my private time, I experience the growth that I need to be a blessing in public.

When I pray in the spirit, I’m resting, abiding, in Christ.  That’s the most powerful tool of self-edification that I could ever access.  God has freely given this to all of His children.  Unfortunately, as the Scripture says, many refuse to hear this Word.

Allow the Holy Spirit to build you up and bring maturity in a powerful way.  Spend time praying in the spirit.

Question: How have you experienced growth and maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Public Prayer in the Spirit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Prophecy vs. Tongues

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s dealing with the lack of love evident in their services.  In chapter 14, the apostle is talking specifically about the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

But that brings me to an important point that many people miss who try to forbid the use of prayer in the spirit (tongues).  They use these verses because they sound somewhat against this gift.

There’s a reason for this.  Paul’s not giving us a complete teaching on the gift of tongues.  He’s talking specifically about the Corinthian church’s abuse of it during their public gatherings.  That’s the application of this section.

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:5

We have to understand that this entire verse is Scripture.  There is absolutely no basis upon which to conclude that “I would rather have you prophesy” negates “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.”

It’s Paul’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) desire that everyone uses their spiritual language in prayer.  However, because of the love issue in this church, Paul would rather see the church edified.

In order for this to happen, they need to hear a Word from God.  More than that, they need to hear it in a language that they understand.

In this church, it must have been common for someone to get up before the congregation and pray in the spirit for a great length of time.  The speaker was built up, but the congregation was untouched.  There was nothing there to build anyone up.

That’s the situation that Paul was addressing.  When people come to a church gathering, there should be an expectation that they’ll receive something life-changing.  We’re not there to simply watch a spiritual show.

There needs to be something that will speak power into the lives of the hearers.  That means either a prophetic word or an interpretation of tongues.

That brings me to my next important point.  What exactly is the interpretation of tongues?

When I pray in tongues, I’m speaking mysteries to God.  My mind doesn’t know what’s being communicated.  So there are some who have concluded that a true interpretation will always be directed toward God.

It turns out there are two related Greek words that are used for the gift of interpretation.  In English, I would describe them as interpretation and interpretation-through.

I believe that interpretation is speaking forth in my native language exactly what is being communicated to God in my spirit.  Interpretation-through is God’s response to what I just said to Him in my spirit.  That’s why many times the length of the interpretation has no relationship to the length of the prayer in tongues.

The Greek word used in the above verse is interpretation-through.  That’s how the church is edified.  We’re built up either through a prophetic word from God or God’s personal response to a spiritual inquiry from our hearts.

We need all the Gifts of the Spirit active in the church to see God’s will accomplished in the earth.

Question: How have you experienced the gift of interpretation?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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It’s All About Control

Lion2I’m taking a few posts to talk about why God has chosen the gift of tongues as a way to worship Him.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

Paul shows us three things in this short verse. First, my body is speaking in an unknown language. At the same time, my mind is unfruitful. But the most important aspect is the fact that my spirit is praying to God.

Notice that when I pray in the spirit, my spirit and body are active, but my mind is not a part of what’s transpiring. That’s because the gift of tongues is a physical reaction to a spiritual event. My flesh doesn’t know how to handle what’s happening with me in the spirit.

According to this verse, what comes out of my mouth may or may not have anything to do with what’s happening in the spirit. That includes the length of the “conversation”, any repetition, the language, or even the physical words spoken.

For instance; as my spirit is praying to God, a Native American may hear “Praise God, praise God, praise God” coming out of my mouth.

Prayer in the spirit – tongues – is for a spiritual exchange. It’s all about communication with the Holy Spirit of God. I can say “praise God” well enough in English. So it’s not about what’s coming out of my mouth.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

That’s why the gift of tongues is only a temporary gifting. It will be unneeded in our resurrected body. We need this supernatural gift right now.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:7-8

Our tongue can be a big problem. According to James, animals can be tamed; but you can’t tame the tongue.

What’s the difference between something tame and something wild? Tame is about character. A tame dog scratches at the door when he needs to relieve himself. He’ll wait for you to feed him.

With a wild animal it’s all instinct. They’ll do what they want whenever or wherever they are.

I’d like my tongue to be self-controlled. But it’s not going to happen all by itself.

Is a lion in a zoo tame? No; it’s simply being controlled. The fact is, you can’t tame the tongue, but it can be controlled…if you’ll let God have control of your tongue. Then the rest of your life is easy to turn over.

Have you ever noticed how easily we’ll give over control of most things to others? We’ll let hair stylists, beauticians, surgeons, and trainers take over those areas of our lives. But not the tongue.

I believe that’s why this gift is so controversial. I’ve heard people say, “Even if you convince me it’s of God, I’m still not going to seek this gift.”

That’s because tongues is about giving control to God. Prayer in the spirit is about learning to hear and yield to God. When it comes to control; that’s the one thing we don’t want to relinquish in our lives.

As believers we should be daily giving over more and more control to the Holy Spirit.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit positively changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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