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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Navigating the Grey Areas

We’re approaching the conclusion of Paul’s teaching on the grey areas of sin.  These are activities that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about.

The apostle now gives some advice on how to handle these things.  The specific issue he’s dealing with is the eating of food that had been previously brought as a sacrifice to a pagan temple.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
1 Corinthians 10:25-26

God has placed His Holy Spirit within each of us as believers.  If the Bible is silent about it, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t activate our conscience, then don’t over-think it.  If it troubles your conscience, then keep away from it.

That’s for you as an individual.  There’s more advice once others are involved.

If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1 Corinthians 10:27

If an unbeliever invites you to an activity, and your conscience isn’t troubled, then you’re free to go.  The fact is that we need to be cultivating healthy relationships with the unchurched.  How else will they be affected by the Gospel of Christ?

That was easy, but what about a mixed crowd of both believers and unbelievers?

But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.  For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?  If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
1 Corinthians 10:28-30

This is where it begins to get complicated.  I now have to take my mind off myself and think of the good of others.  I can’t just run rough-shod over another person’s conscience and proclaim, “I’m free in Christ to do what I want.”

We have to be sensitive to the maturity level of those around us.  We don’t want to be the cause of an offense that hinders their walk with God.

“Well, they just need to grow up!”

Try telling that to a three-year-old.  Growth takes time and nurturing.  Take your eyes off yourself, and be a blessing rather than a hindrance.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33a

The bottom line is that it’s not about me, but God receiving the glory from my life.  I should be able to live with a little inconvenience in order for God’s kingdom to advance.  Our goal should be that the name of Christ is exalted.

Question: Why is sensitivity to the needs of others so important to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Everything Changes

I’ve been posting from First Corinthians, Chapter 7.  Paul is dealing with romantic relationships.  In my last article Paul advised that because of persecution that was starting, they needed to consider carefully if they were looking to marry.

Now Paul explains these principles in a little more detail.

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none…
1 Corinthians 7:29

We have to understand that Paul is not saying to leave your wife.  What he means is that whatever happens, keep your walk with the Lord your priority.

At any time your spouse might be arrested, imprisoned, or even martyred for your faith in Christ.  If that’s the case, then you can’t let it affect your service to the Lord.  That’s why God gives a special kind of grace to those undergoing persecution.

Many have come to me and said, “Pastor, I hope persecution never comes to America because I don’t think I could handle it.”  I tell them that if we’re called to that kind of life, then we’ll be given the grace to withstand it victoriously.

Paul goes on to explain the underlying truth.

…those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:30-31

The thing that Paul is trying to get across to us is that everything is subject to change.  The world doesn’t get it.  They think that a single event brings a permanent change.

If they go through a devastating loss, they think their life is over forever.  On the other hand, they think that if they can just win the lottery, they’ll be happy forever.  Neither of those two statements is true.  Change is constant.

So as believers, we’re told not to look at any phase of life as permanent.  Even if we get a new device that we’ve always wanted – we realize that it’s not ours to keep.  It will wear out, break, or become obsolete.

We’re literally told that we can use the systems of the world, but don’t overuse or misuse them.  The way society works is constantly changing.  The strategies that made people successful 50 years ago, won’t work today.

The present form of the world – the way things work – is fading away.  Society is always changing.  The way people learn, interact and do business is always evolving.  We can’t get engrossed in one way of doing things.

But here’s the good news.  God’s kingdom works the same yesterday, today and forever.

It’s all about spending time in the Lord’s presence hearing from the Holy Spirit.  Then we do what He’s leading us to do.  It’s this obedience that makes us successful.

If somebody had told me as a teen, that one day I would sit in my den and explain Biblical truth to people across the country and around the world, I wouldn’t have believed them.  It’s become a different world now.

The bottom line is that change will be constant and that listening to the voice of God is the only thing that will keep us on course.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit helped you to weather the changes in society?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s now getting into some guiding principles as he talks about relationships in chapter 7.

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.  This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
1 Corinthians 7:17

The context of this verse is that you shouldn’t end your marriage just because you got saved.  If your partner wants to remain together, even though they might not be a Christian, then allow the Holy Spirit to work through your relationship.

This is a guideline that Paul teaches in all of his churches.  It literally says that whatever portion God has assigned to you when He calls you; remain in it.

The Lord doesn’t work like a steam roller.  He doesn’t come into your life and tear everything down.

Cults do that.  When you join a cult, many times they’ll tell you to leave your family and cut all ties with your friends.  That’s not how the Lord works.

Normally, the Holy Spirit will work on you from the inside out.  He wants the people who know you best to see the change as it’s happening.  Then it will be a witness to them of the power of God.

Paul uses an example of circumcision to make his point.

Was a man already circumcised when he was called?  He should not become uncircumcised.  Was a man uncircumcised when he was called?  He should not be circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.  Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
1 Corinthians 7:18-19

The fact is that God can use anyone.  You don’t have to change who you are in order to serve Him faithfully.  The bottom line is that you hear and obey God’s voice.

He speaks to His people and we obey.  It’s a step by step process.  If there’s something in our lives that needs changing, then the Lord will provide the power to bring that about.

Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.  Were you a slave when you were called?  Don’t let it trouble you — although if you can gain your freedom, do so.  For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.
1 Corinthians 7:20-22

Paul talks about some situations that we find ourselves in that aren’t ideal.  Unfortunately, they’re not easy to get out of.  In this case, it’s slavery.  In those days it wasn’t all like the American version.  For some, slavery was a voluntary way to repay a debt.  For others, it was a penalty for a crime committed.

For us, it might be a massive amount of debt or multiple jobs in order to pay your bills.  Paul explains that in these types of situations, don’t worry about it.  Let God work through it.

But there is hope during those times.  We’re told the if we have the power to become free, then use it.  We don’t have to remain downtrodden.  Through prayer and obedience to the voice of God, our situation can and will improve.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
1 Corinthians 7:23-24

However, it’s important that we don’t knowingly place ourselves in these types of situations.  We want to be able to give our best for the Lord.

Question: How has God used your unique position in the past?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Whose Temple Is It?

In my last post, I talked about Paul’s warning to serve God whole-heartedly.  A failure to do so runs the risk of losing some kingdom blessings.  He continues this thought as he uses the illustration of a temple.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I’m a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Think about it like the ancient Greek temples.  My temple says “Holy Spirit” over the front entrance.

What would you expect if you came to that temple?  What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside?  You may question the priest about it.

“That convention is for this week only.”

What if for the next few weeks you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar?  You’d ask is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else?

With that thought in mind, consider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:16-17

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed.  What was it that aroused such an attitude?  The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.”  (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!)  The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  He lives permanently in His temple; our body.

In some of my other posts, I’ve talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is intensely jealous (James 4:5).  Do we really get the point?  We’re living in the Last Days.  The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple.  We need to submit to His program or face the loss.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple.  But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection.  In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

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

If you really want what the Holy Spirit’s desire, then sow to please the Spirit.  He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right.  No!  Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer.  Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Boasting

We’re continuing our study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s dealing with the factions that are dividing their fellowship.  He now asks some questions that are particularly important.

For who makes you different from anyone else?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
1 Corinthians 4:7

The first question he asks could be asked in our generation.  It literally says, who or what is it that makes you different and causes you to separate or withdraw from everyone else?  This is a question that should be asked of most denominational leaders.

Think about the thousands of Christian denominations around the world.  What is it that makes them so different from each other that they have to remain separate?

I like the study of church history.  I read stories of the great men and women of faith who have done mighty things for the Lord.  Many times, a following arose around their teachings.  Eventually, it formed a new group or denomination.

I wonder sometimes, what these ministers of the Gospel think about the direction those who followed them took.  Would they even recognize the organization that evolved into what we see on today’s church landscape?

“My denomination is better than yours.  We’re closer to God.”

Are you?  Is it the organization that brings you closer to God?  Or is it about a relationship?  Paul’s next questions bring that to light.  What do you have that you didn’t receive?  And if you received it, why do you boast as if it was you that did it?

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

We have received an absolutely, over-the-top salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ.  It was something that we could have never accomplished on our own.  That’s the bottom line of Christianity.

Human beings are the ones who have added the denominational distinctives.  These are the things that divide and separate us.  Most of these things are spiritual insights that a minister received and taught.  Then, an organization was built around it.

Actually, if you read the history of denominations, you’ll find that many groups separated over some of the most foolish things.  Many of these have nothing to do with God but are simply preferences in the style of worship or who they’re comfortable worshipping with.

Having said that, I don’t believe that there’s anything wrong with being a part of an organization.  My church is a member of a denomination.  What I am saying is that it’s not the organization that brings you closer to God.

Your personal relationship with Christ is the most important thing.  This needs to be cultivated through your walk with the Holy Spirit.

But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Whatever your particular brand of Christianity is, let your walk with God be the most important part.

Question: What do we have in common as believers in Jesus Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2019 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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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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Are You a Home-wrecker?

In my last post, we saw that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  When you think about it, that’s an incredible gift.  But it’s also an awesome responsibility.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We need to live with the understanding that our whole life is a temple dedicated to God.  That’s even more so when God’s people gather together.

The physical building is not the “house of God”, even though we refer to it like that sometimes.  On the contrary, it’s the in the gathering of believers that the Holy Spirit makes His presence known.

The word for destroy, in the above passage, means the process of withering or spoiling.  It’s not instantaneous destruction.  If someone corrupts God’s people, they begin a withering process that will affect their own lives.

God’s passion for His Temple was illustrated in the life of Christ.

In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:14-16

We need to understand what was making Jesus so upset.  It was all about greed on the part of the priests.

There were some provisions in the law to make it easier for the people to tithe.  If I lived far away from Jerusalem, I could sell the sheep I was bringing for a tithe.  Then I travel to Jerusalem with the money and buy more sheep when I get there.  In that way, it was less of a burden on the people.

Unfortunately, religion changed all that.  The priests made a rule that you could only buy specially inspected animals at the Temple for an inflated price.

On top of that, you could only use specially minted Temple coins to buy these animals.  These coins were purchased from the money-changers at a high rate of exchange.

The result was that if I started at home with 100 sheep as a tithe; by the time I was through with this process I might only be able to afford 50 to offer at the Temple.  So the priests and salespeople were getting rich while the people and God were being robbed.  Jesus was reacting to the thievery that He was witnessing.

But the real question is; how does this apply to us?  In the above Scripture, Jesus said to take this stuff out of the Temple area.  More importantly, My Father’s house is not an emporium.

That’s why it’s important to know that a church building is not my Father’s house.  Right now – I am my Father’s house and you are too.  We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Are we truly the house of God; a place of worship?  Can people see by our lives that our whole fellowship is devoted to the worship of the Lord?  Do all the parts revolve around Him?

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17

Do you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying?  Zeal for YOUR HOUSE will CONSUME ME.  Our zeal to be a place of worship should consume all that we are.  Think about that in relation to our lives.

This should be the attitude of all believers. I’m not all about the temporary, material things of this world. I must maintain the integrity of the living temple where God reigns supreme.

Question: What can we do to keep our Temple a place of worship?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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