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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Teachers in the Church (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

In my last post, I mentioned that my anointing is that of a teacher in the body of Christ.  That got me thinking about our view of teaching in the church of today.  I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

I believe that a lot of problems we face are directly tied to what we’re being taught.  But let’s start at the beginning.  We really need to understand the importance of teaching from God’s perspective.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the form of the New Testament that we use now is not in the order it was given to the church.  Over the years it’s been arranged by topics rather than the original order.

While that may make it easier to find certain passages, we sometimes miss out on some important warnings.  For instance, James was the first book to be written, but because it’s placed close to the end, it doesn’t get a lot of priority.

However, when it comes to teaching in the church, James should be the first book we think of.  In its pages, we find the first thing the Holy Spirit revealed about teachers in the body of Christ.  What do you think that is?

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

Please pay careful attention to the voice of the Spirit.  The first thing He wants you to know about the ministry of a teacher is…that position comes with a stricter judgment.

That’s because the place of a teacher is much more important than most people realize.  Yet in our present church culture, we’ll let anyone teach.  We need so many for Sunday School, Children’s Church, Teens, and Adult classes.

“Everything you need has already been done.  All you have to do is to study the lesson plan at home, and talk about it in class.”

I’m sorry if I’m stereotyping, but here’s what I observe in our present church ministries.  Most teaching is simply passing on what we’ve read or heard from someone else.  We use books, sermons, online tools, and lessons that give us the messages that we, in turn, pass on to those we’re teaching.

That was actually the state of teaching in Israel when Christ came on the scene.  He had a different method.  The Lord only taught those things that He heard from the Father.  What was the response?

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

The difference was obvious.  He wasn’t simply parroting what someone else was teaching.  He was bringing them a Word from the Father.

That’s where we need to get to in the church today.  We must raise up teachers who walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

In my next post, I’ll continue with this important truth.

Question: How should the warning of James work in the life of modern teachers?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Power and the Spiritual Weapons

We’re continuing our look at the qualities Paul saw as essential to the ministry.

…in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
2 Corinthians 6:7

First of all, you have to understand that the punctuation was added by the translators.  They try to make it as readable as possible.  But sometimes we lose a little of what the original is saying.

What Paul literally wrote is, in the power of God through weapons of righteousness on the right and on the left.

That verse tells me a lot.  It means that I can walk in the power of God.  But the only way to access this power is through the spiritual weapons that God has given us.

The Lord wants His people to walk in His power.  He made it clear when He was preparing His disciples for His departure.

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

The way we receive this power is through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  This is different than when the Holy Spirit fills us when we are saved.

The word, baptism, means immersion in something.  We are filled with the Spirit at salvation.  We are immersed in the Spirit when we receive the baptism.

When I speak about being baptized in the Spirit, I’m talking about praying in tongues – your heavenly language.  I know that this can be very controversial in the body of Christ.  I’ve also experienced the truth of what I’m saying.

Paul understood this intimately.  He had a very rich prayer life in the spirit.  He was writing to let others know the power that was available to them.

The fact is that prayer in the spirit and the spiritual armor are linked throughout the Scripture.  Paul tells us that we receive the armor of God through prayer in the spirit.  For a detailed discussion of this, click here.

God had made available to us everything we need to defeat the enemy.  It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about our own flesh, the world, or the devil’s kingdom.  We’ve been given the tools to overcome in this life.

That’s the essence of true ministry.  To set captives free through the power of God.  We want to see lives changed and transformed into the image of Christ.  That only happens as we spend time praying in the spirit.

I believe that in these last days before the return of Christ, God is calling His church to once again walk in the fullness of this power.  Let’s spend time seeking God through prayer in the spirit.

Question: How often do you pray in the spirit?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Ministry Qualities Part 4 – The Word of Truth

I’m continuing my look at the qualities Paul describes to the church at Corinth.

…in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
2 Corinthians 6:7

As I was studying for this installment, this verse caught me totally off guard.  The phrase, in truthful speech, is not what Paul wrote.  He literally said, in the Word of truth.

That made a big difference to me.  That’s especially the case because we’re talking about the earmarks of true ministry.  One of the defining qualities of ministry is that it proclaims the Word of truth.

That phrase is found throughout the New Testament.  So I felt led to devote this whole article to it.  The question is; how do I know if someone or some group is declaring the Word of truth?

Here’s what to look for.  Keep in mind that even though you may not like the methods of some ministry, that doesn’t mean that they’re not walking in the truth.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit…
Ephesians 1:13

This is an important point.  The Word of truth is synonymous with the Gospel of your salvation.  Simply put, the Word of truth gets people saved.

The Word of truth releases the Holy Spirit to convict the unsaved and draw them to Christ.  So the first thing to look for is the saving work of the Spirit.  Are people receiving Christ as their Lord and Savior through this ministry?

But there’s more to it than that.  Jesus prayed for His disciples as He was preparing them for His departure.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

Not only does the Word of truth bring salvation, but it sanctifies us as well.  As we continue to receive this Word, our lives are changed.  Most of us can look back to who we were when we were first saved and we don’t even recognize that person.

The Word of truth is anointed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It does continual work in us.  As we submit to the Lord’s presence, we find that change is an ongoing process.

We can ask, are lives being changed through this ministry?

In writing to the Colossian church, Paul comments about their faith and love…

…the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.
Colossians 1:5-6

This is the power of the Word of truth.  It should be a part of every Christian ministry.

Question: How have you seen this demonstrated in a Gospel ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Ministry Qualities Part 3

This is the third in a series about the earmarks of a godly ministry according to the Apostle Paul.  He wrote about them in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
2 Corinthians 6:6-7

My last post ended with patience.  Now we’ll continue on…

Kindness – This is a quality that most believers don’t understand properly.  For a detailed explanation, click here.

Simply put, kindness is not just a matter of doing nice things for people.  In God’s eyes, the definition of kindness is; doing good to those who absolutely don’t deserve it.

Our problem is, when someone is doing wrong, we want to see them punished.  Of course, when we do something wrong, we want to be forgiven.

We need to spend time with the Lord so that we can pick up the same heart that he has.  In that way we can show the love of Christ to all people – even those we label as “undeserving”.  We must see others as the Father sees them.  They all have great potential in Christ.

In the Holy Spirit – This is probably the most important one.  Many of the qualities we’ve looked at so far are impossible to maintain in our own strength.  We need the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s how the fruit are produced.  We must remain in the vine – Christ Jesus.  Time spent praying in the Holy Spirit is never wasted.  It changes us more and more into the image of Christ.

Sincere Love – This is a big one!  The literal Greek reads love without hypocrisy.  How can we do that?

This verse is talking about agape-love.  This love is a choice; there’s no emotional involvement.

So if I show love – doing something good – for someone I really don’t like, isn’t that hypocritical?  Good question.

Actually, that’s not being hypocritical; it’s being obedient to the Lord.  Hypocrisy would be to do something nice for them now, then gossip about them when they’re not around.  We’re to show people love and respect whether we like them or not.  This also includes whether they’re physically present or not.

This is another reason why we need the power of the Holy Spirit active in our lives.  Without His influence, we could never hope to live up to these godly qualities.

Question: How have others treated you with kindness and love in the past?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Big Lie – I Can’t Change

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this past January?  Are they still going or have you given up on them?  The Apostle Paul talks about what our attitudes should be.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.  Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
2 Corinthians 5:16

That includes how we look at ourselves.  We can’t see ourselves from a worldly perspective.  We need to see ourselves in Christ.

A number of years ago I read a book called Changeology by John Norcross, Ph.D.  He talked about some myths we’ve bought into about change.  I’ve noticed them in the lives of many believers, so I’m adapting them for this blog.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

As Christians, our faith is in Christ as the agent of change, making us more like Him.  We can’t afford to buy into the lie that change is beyond our grasp.  Have you listened to the enemy’s deception in this area?

“I can’t change on my own.” This one is partly true.  If you take God out of the equation, then change is a lot tougher.  But the simple fact is that you have to start the ball rolling.  It all begins with your decision to change; then God has your permission to act on your behalf.

“I can only make insignificant changes.” The deception in this is that no change is ever insignificant.  Sometimes the smallest change has the greatest effect.  On the side of a mountain, the smallest gust of wind can start a huge avalanche. If God can change something small in your life, then you can trust Him for something greater.

“I don’t have enough willpower to change.” It’s not about willpower, it’s about faith.  Willpower places trust in yourself to do the work.  You need to put your expectation in the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.  The simple fact is that your flesh will never change itself.  Time in God’s presence is the most effective means to see God’s hand upon your life.

“I can’t change who I am.” The Scripture above exposes this fallacy.  In Christ, your past never determines your future.  Personality, family traits, and even bad habits are not outside the power of God.  The Lord can heal hurts and bitterness of the past.  You need to open your heart to the Great Physician to do the work that only He can do.

“I’ve tried to change in the past and failed at it.” The Bible is clear that we might experience failure in our lives.  The key is to not wallow in it.  You may fall, but keep getting up.  Perseverance is the key to victory.  One great success will wipe out all the sadness of past mistakes.  Let God strengthen your heart for the path ahead.

Maybe you’ve fallen victim to one of these insidious attitudes.  If so, then it’s time to lay them down and choose the path to your destiny in Christ.  Decide today to yield to the Holy Spirit’s power.  Let Him work with you as you walk step by step to your high calling in the Lord.

Questions: What do you want to change in your life?  How can you allow God to be a part of this process?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Feeling at Home

In the present crisis that we find ourselves in, many people are staying home.  It’s funny that the longer we stay in the house, the more we long to leave it.  But, in spite of our feelings, we stay at home because we know what the alternative is.

That’s the same type of thing that Paul explains to the Corinthian church.

In my last post, we saw that God has a heavenly home prepared for us.  But we have to wait for Christ’s return in order to receive it.

Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 5:5

The good news is that we have more than just a promise of the great things to come.  God gave us a down-payment.  That’s the word Paul uses to describe the Holy Spirit in this verse.

God has placed His Holy Spirit within us.  That’s the guarantee that we’ll have a part in the resurrection.  But how does that help us right now?

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  We live by faith, not by sight.  We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.  So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:6-9

With just a surface reading of this passage, it sounds like the apostle is talking about dying and being with the Lord.  I don’t think that’s the case.  I believe he’s talking about something a little closer to our daily lives.

The phrase, at home, is more about your familiarity with a place than your actual location.  It literally says that if your body is your home country, then you’ve emigrated from God’s presence.

That’s not Paul’s preference. He wants to pursue that which is unseen.  He would rather see God’s presence as his home turf, and the body as the place he’s emigrated from.

He even says that this knowledge causes him to be bold.  Having God’s presence available gives him the courage to do what he’s called to do.

That’s the big question that we all need to answer as God’s people.  Where do we feel more at home?

Is the pursuit of the temporary more comfortable for you?  Would you rather be a part of this world’s system?  Or do you prefer God’s presence and the pursuit of that which pleases Him?

Obviously, by Paul’s last statement, he knows that we have to go back and forth on this issue.  There are times that we need to take care of things in the natural.  But even in those times, we remember what we’ve seen in the spirit, and strive to accomplish God’s will.

We know that the “stay at home orders” are for our good in this crisis.  In the same way, we need to choose to stay at home in God’s presence.  This will bring about God’s best in your life.

Question: How “at home” do you feel in the presence of God?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Believing and Speaking

I’m continuing to go through our study in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He is talking about his ministry to the body of Christ.  In my last post, he declared that by carrying the death of Christ, he can minister life to others.

He continues that thought.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14

This is a very important truth that needs to be addressed in our generation.  There are many who preach about the relationship between our faith and our words.

It seems like many Christians spend their lives living in the “ruts”.  Instead of traveling down the main road of the Word of God, they take these side trails that lead to trouble.  This is one of those truths.

On the one hand, there are many who take no thought as to what they say.  They feel no need to talk about the Lord or His blessings.  As a matter of fact, if you only listen to what they say, you’d never even know that they’re a Christian.

Then there are those who live in constant fear that a “bad confession” might come out of their mouth.  They’re afraid that one wrong sentence could destroy all that they’ve gained in years of serving God.

Neither of these two scenarios is any way to live for Christ.  The above verse is referring to the result of faith.

The word translated as therefore means through which or consequently.  In other words, the consequence of my faith is manifest in what I speak.  It’s the spirit of faith within me that spills out of my mouth.

That’s how the life of Christ is at work in us by the Holy Spirit.  He is producing faith in us.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

Because Paul spoke out what he believed, many were placing their faith in Christ.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

Remember, in this passage, Paul is not talking about the entire church. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, Paul is talking about himself and his ministry team. Paul, who prayed in the spirit more than most believers of his day, was allowing himself to be renewed daily in the spirit.

This is why our daily time with the Lord is so important. We must take the time to read the Bible and pray in the spirit. Reading gets the written word into you. Prayer in the spirit activates that word and brings it to life within your heart.

That’s how you can be prepared to speak from the spirit of faith within you.

Question: How do you spend your daily time with the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Faith, Leadership, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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God at Work

As we’ve been studying Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we’ve seen that God wants His glory to reside in us.  He wants the world around us to be drawn to Christ by watching how we live.  This is an awesome responsibility.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7-8

This brings us to the greatest question of all.  Why would God ever want to place His glory into clay pots?  We may never fully be able to answer that.

But the truth is the truth.  God has placed His glory in us for a reason.  He wants all of creation to see His glory at work.

More than that, it’s proof that God’s power is at work in us.  The word translated as all-surpassing is a Greek word that means to throw beyond.

It’s an athletic term.  In a competition like a javelin throw or the discus, all the competitors achieve about the same distance.  Then someone throws far beyond all the others.  That’s what this term all-surpassing means.

The power that God wants to work in us is so far beyond anything we could accomplish on our own.  It becomes obvious that there’s a God who loves us and operates in us.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Paul talks about the evidence he sees of God’s power at work.  Everyone faces difficulties and challenges.  It’s what results from these times that makes a difference.  He lists four proofs of God at work.

Hard-pressed but not crushed.  That literally means that sometimes we seem to be crowded, but we cannot be boxed in.  Nothing the enemy does will be able to stop God’s plan.

Perplexed but not in despair.  This means that sometimes there seems to be no way out.  Yet even in those times, we don’t give up.  We expect God to make a way through, and our faith is rewarded.

Persecuted but not abandoned.  This means that sometimes it seems like we’re being pursued, chased, or hunted.  In our society, during times like this, it’s every man for himself.  But, in God’s kingdom, we’re never deserted or forsaken.  We can always run into God’s presence to receive His grace.

Finally, struck down but not destroyed.  This is just like it sounds.  I think about the Rocky movies.

The enemy gets in a solid punch.  We go down and it looks like the fight is over.  Then, before the count reaches 10, we’re on our feet again.  That must totally frustrate the enemy.

Never give up your trust in the Lord.  Even when things look the worst, God is at work in you.  Expect to see the power of the Holy Spirit bringing you through the tough times.

Question: How have you experienced the power of God work in you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Shining for Christ

In my last post, I talked about the light of the Gospel.  It shines through us if we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.  But we also saw that it’s possible for the devil to blind the spiritual eyes of unbelievers if they stubbornly refuse to hear the message.

We must always remember that the message is the most important part.  Methods may change, but the Gospel remains the same.

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6

The message is Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  That’s where the power resides.  That’s where we find salvation, healing, provision, protection, and fulfillment.  There’s no other light that can pierce the darkness of this world.

Our light needs to radiate all around us.  Only in that way will people see their need for the Lord and come to the foot of the cross.  The light of the Gospel is all that matters.

But we always have to remember, it’s not our light but His. Peter talked about having the Word in you and allowing it to grow and produce fruit in your life. In speaking about this fruitfulness, he says the following…

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:9

Peter calls unfruitful Christians blind and nearsighted. He says that you’ve forgotten about your past being cleansed by the blood of Christ.

That’s because this person is blind to what God is doing. They’re also nearsighted; they can only see what’s right in front of them. They major on the temporary things of this world.

We need 20/20 vision in the spirit.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:12

It’s interesting to see the contrast here between deeds of darkness vs. armor of light. That’s because the armor is all about action.

Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith – all of these things must be visible. It’s up to us to make the light accessible to the world.

We’re the ones looking into the light. We should be walking in it, letting it change us.

…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…
Philippians 2:15-16

How do we shine like stars? As we hold out the Word. The Word is the light. We hold it out. Not everybody wants it, but some people are touched and changed by it. We need to live in such a way that the light is seen.

Question: How have people seen the light of Christ in your life lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Blinders

I’m continuing my series through the book of 2 Corinthians.  Paul is talking about his ministry.  It’s a ministry of power because the Holy Spirit is working through him.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that gets the attention of the world around us.  That’s how we become a “light in the darkness”.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

We as believers should be reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us. The Bible says that those in darkness hate the light. What does that mean?  Sometimes if they see the light of Christ clearly in us, it may make them uncomfortable.

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid hiker. During some seasons, I’ll go out for a week at a time.

The first time I went on a solo hike, sleeping alone in the woods, it was a different experience. I set up my tent and when the sun went down I went to sleep. I had no clue that this would be one of the strangest nights of my life.

Around two o’clock in the morning, I woke up startled. It was as if I was in the center of a huge spotlight. The full moon was directly over me. I could see right through my thin, nylon tent as if it wasn’t even there.

I could see the trees, rocks, and everything around me as clear as day. I felt exposed and uncomfortable as I looked around. I’m very glad that there were no large animals near the tent!

This is the same effect as what happens in the spiritual realm when we reflect Christ. When you’re used to living in spiritual darkness, the light makes you uncomfortable. It exposes things that you’d rather not see. It shows you your true condition.

Satan makes full use of this effect.  He uses this discomfort with the light, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to get unbelievers to close their eyes to the truth.

Please take note of the fact that the enemy is called the god of this age. That means that there’s a time limit on his ability to act.

This verse tells us that unbelievers are given blinders if they want them. The Scripture says that if they persist in their unbelief, the enemy will give them blinders so that the light will not beam out to them.

This light is coming from the Good News of Christ – the Anointed One. The light is the glory of His presence within us.

Unbelievers are blinded to the light if they choose to believe the lies of the enemy. That’s why it’s now our job is to get them to take the blinders off. That’s a big assignment. It can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.

That’s why our ministry can’t be done in our own strength.  Time in the presence of the Lord is what will empower me to cut through the blinders of the enemy.  Only then will they see the glory of the Gospel of Christ.

Question: How have you experienced unbelievers becoming uncomfortable in the presence of the truth?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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