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My Will or His?

In my last two posts, I talked about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  Not everybody believes that they’re still active today.  How do you feel about walking in the power of these gifts?

I think that in many cases, we don’t want the attention that they’d bring to us.  People would start to question how we were able to do some of these things.  Then we’d have to explain ourselves.

But, in actuality, isn’t that what we’re called to do in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What better way of getting someone’s attention, than seeing the power of God firsthand.

I think it’s sad that we’ve turned this Scriptural truth into a theological debate.  Why not just step out in faith and see what happens.

It’s probably because there’s a deeper issue.  Paul gives us some insight into it.  He concludes his list of the manifestations with the following statement.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:11

The first thing I see is the word “all”.  They are all the work of one and the same Spirit.  The same Spirit who gives wisdom also gives tongues.  We need to understand the significance of this.

Right now there are churches who want to pick and choose what they’ll accept.  The same church that would ask me to pray for wisdom in a situation would throw me out if they knew I prayed in tongues.

How could we possibly say that God is the same yesterday, today and forever if we think some of these are temporary?  We need the power of God to be evident in all generations.

I’ve heard some say that the Gospel needed this power temporarily to kick start the church.  Now that the church is in place, our testimony is all that’s needed.  I submit to you that our testimony – without the power – is getting us nowhere.

The next important phrase is that the Holy Spirit gives them…just as He determines.  It’s not up to me to determine what God will or will not do.  Let the Holy Spirit be free to move however He determines.

That’s what bothers me the most about this subject.  There are people who get upset at me for simply believing that all of these are still in operation today.  Why not just let me live in my fantasy world?

Why not let me go my merry way believing that God will impart His wisdom to me when I need it (which He has!).  Why not let me go on believing that God can use me to pray for the sick and see them healed (which He has!).

Don’t they know that if I want to be used of God to heal someone, and it’s not God’s will, then no matter how hard I pray nothing will happen?  But if God still heals then…

So I have a challenge.  Feel free to use it with anyone you know who doesn’t believe in the manifestations.

I simply challenge those who think they’re not for today to pray a simple prayer.  “Holy Spirit, if these gifts are still in operation in the church today, please manifest them in me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.”

That should be no problem.  If you’re right in thinking they’re not for today, then you’re just speaking into the air.  Nothing will happen.

But, if my hunch is correct, they won’t pray this.  Because in many cases these people want to be in control of their lives.  They don’t want the Holy Spirit messing things up by making them an undeniable witness to the power of God.

We need the power of the Holy Spirit to confirm the Gospel that we preach.  Without it, we’re simply in a philosophical debate with other religions.

Keep your spiritual life strong.  Expect the Holy Spirit to show up at just the right time.

Question: Why do many in the church shy away from the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Manifesting the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

In my last post, I started looking at the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I’ve already talked about the Message of Wisdom, the Message of Knowledge, and Faith.  Now we’ll move on to the rest.

Gifts of Healing.  You may remember that a couple of posts ago, I talked about the word, gifts.  This is the Greek word, charismata.  It’s a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how it will be used.

Another interesting point about this manifestation is that the original text reads – gifts of healings.  Both words are plural.

I see an incredible word picture in this.  It’s like each of us is given a bag full of presents – healings that we’re to deliver to particular people that we’ll meet throughout our lives.  It’s up to us to stay sensitive so that we can be obedient when the Holy Spirit tells us to pray over that sick person.

Miraculous Powers.  The words used in Scripture mean the working of power.  This can be anything, other than healing, that seems to go against the natural laws.

This also includes the instances of divine favor that we experience.  People in the world will say, “Wasn’t that a great coincidence.”  No, it was the power of God at work orchestrating things on my behalf.

Prophecy.   This is when God gives you a message that He wants you to deliver for Him.  It could be a private or public message.

Many times when we hear the word, prophecy, we think future.  That’s not always the case.  God may want something said that could deal with the past, present, or future.  I think that there are times when believers are speaking prophetically and they don’t even realize it.

Distinguishing Between Spirits.  The phrase, distinguishing between, comes from a Greek word that means to make a judicial decision.  It’s this supernatural gifting that gives you the ability to know what spirit, if any, is at work in a situation.  You’ll know if the demonic forces are trying to hinder.  You’ll also know if the Holy Spirit is at work in the background.

Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues.  This is the use of your prayer language for ministry.  It could include simply praying for yourself or others.  It could also be a part of deep intercession.  It’s when you allow your spirit to pray in the will of God beyond what you know in the natural.

Interpretation of Tongues.  This is when the Holy Spirit gives you insight into what you or someone else is praying in the spirit.  It’s not quite the same as a translation.  That’s because what you’re speaking with your mouth may not be what’s being exchanged between you and the Lord in the spiritual realm.

These are the manifestations of power that the Holy Spirit wants to display through His people.  They’ll directly point to Christ as Lord.  They’ll cause people to move closer to a relationship with Him.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

I don’t believe that you can full proclaim the Gospel of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen the manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Manifesting the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

In my last post, I talked about the differences in the way God works in each of us.  One of those was the manifestation – the appearance – of the Holy Spirit.  He works differently in each of us, personally.

Today I want to begin explaining the different ways that the Spirit of God shows Himself in us.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10

That’s quite a list.  I want to take some time to explain what each of these is.  Unfortunately, there are many who don’t believe that the Holy Spirit still functions in all of these.  As far as I can see, none of the manifestations come with an expiration date.

The first thing we need to know is that these are not either/or.  If the Holy Spirit chooses, He can work them all in the same person.  Christ actually walked in all of these except tongues and interpretation.  It’s up to the Spirit to decide what’s needed at the time.

We also need to see that these are supernatural manifestations.  They point to the clear fact that God is working through you.  They’re not something that you have the power to do on your own.

The Message of Wisdom.  Wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge that you have to solve a problem.  This is supernatural wisdom that God imparts to you when needed.  So you could say that it’s a supernatural problem-solving ability.

This should be a common manifestation in the lives of God’s people.  I know that in my life there were many times that God showed up like this in my job as an Electrical Engineer.  My fellow workers knew my testimony, and they knew that because of this, I could come up with answers when no one else could.

Never think that it’s some flaky thing that makes you look and act weird.  On the contrary, the gift should highlight the power of God and draw people to Christ.

The Message of Knowledge.  This one is like the message of wisdom, but it’s a supernatural impartation of God’s knowledge.  Knowledge is simply facts.  When God uses this, you know things that you wouldn’t have known by any natural means.

It could be facts about people, places or things.  When you know something that you have no way of knowing, it points to a source beyond yourself.

Many times I’ve heard believers say, “It was like a voice on the inside said…”  Then they either say that they wished they’d listened to it, or they’re glad they did listen.

We need to spend more time in the Lord’s presence so that we can be sensitive to His voice.  I believe that God wants to speak more often than we’re in a position to hear.

Faith.  Too often we don’t understand this one.  It’s not talking about the normal faith in God that we have toward His Word.  This is a supernatural faith that God imparts to us when we need it.

This is especially true of believers who are facing persecution or a severe trial.  When there’s absolutely no way out, a supernatural, incomprehensible faith rises up on the inside of you.  You have no explanation as to why you have peace and trust during the situation in which you find yourself.

This causes the people around you to question what makes you so different.  The answer should draw them to Christ.

In my next post, I’ll continue my look at these important works of the Holy Spirit in us.

Questions: Has the Holy Spirit worked these in you?  How and when have you experienced them?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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