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One Spirit – One Wind

What has to happen for the church to walk in unity?  I’ve been posting about it, and I think the answer will surprise you.

In my last installment, we saw that Jesus prayed to the Father, that He would make us one.  That means that it must be by the Spirit.  The church can never operate as one person in the natural; it’s a work that only can be performed in the spiritual realm.  In His prayer, the Lord gives an indication of how this process works.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me.  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:22-23

If the unity of the church is just like the unity shared by the Father and the Son, then we must ask; how are the Father and the Son one?  Simply put, they share the same Spirit.

It sounds to me as if this is one of the most important aspects of our walk with God.  It’s our unity that speaks to the world and lets them know the truth about Christ.

I don’t believe that this is what the world sees in this generation.  Right now many churches have no agreement or unity.  Agreement is good; it means that we’re all being taught the truth.  Our agreement lets the world hear the Good News with one voice.

Unity is better.  It allows the church to operate as a unit.  But the real place of power is a church that’s operating in both agreement and unity together.  This means that we not only believe the same and speak the same, but also operate in one spirit.  How is that accomplished?

Let me illustrate how this truth works.  Picture yourself out in a field.  The wind is gently blowing and you can see the grass swaying in the breeze.  For the purpose of this illustration, the natural wind is the Holy Spirit.

Now I come into the picture.  Compared to the wind, I’m a little electric fan.  When I pray “in the Spirit,” I align my spirit with the Holy Spirit and start to blow my wind in the same direction as the natural wind.  When I’m in the spirit, I’ve lined myself up with God’s Spirit.

Being in the spirit allows my spiritual wind to blow in the same direction as the Holy Spirit.  If this scenario were happening in the natural – a fan in a field – would you be able to tell which part of the wind came from the fan and which came from the air?  No, it would be impossible to differentiate the two.

In the same way, you can’t differentiate my spirit versus the Holy Spirit.  The wind of the Holy Spirit completely envelops my wind, it’s all ONE.  The Holy Spirit and I are in unity.  This is what Paul wrote about to the Corinthian church.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:17

We’re now starting to see the whole picture.  To be one with Him, I must unite myself with the Lord.  It’s interesting to note here that the word, unite is the word, glue in the Greek.  According to Paul, being one with the Lord in spirit is being glued to Him.  This is the unity we share with the Lord.

In my next post, I’ll show how my unity with the Lord becomes unity in the church.

Question: Why is it important for us to be in unity with the Lord?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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The Wind of the Spirit

I’ve started to post about the corporate use of prayer in the spirit.  In my last article, I talked about the difference between unity and agreement.

Today, I want to share some things that Jesus taught about the move of the Spirit.

At one point a teacher of the law named Nicodemus asked Jesus some questions.  Jesus spent some quality time with this young man.  I think however that this teacher left with more questions than he started with.  During the conversation, Jesus said the following to Nicodemus:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:7-8

When you’re born of the Spirit, you can now live life on a new level.  It’s the level of the spiritual realm.

God describes it as wind.  It blows wherever it pleases.  Just as in the case of the physical wind, we can see the effect, direction, and speed it’s traveling.

This is the case even if we don’t know where it’s coming from or going to.  Maybe you’ve seen a weather map on TV.  Personally, the Weather Channel is one of my favorite places on Cable TV.  I’ve gotten many spiritual illustrations from its programs.

When you look at a weather map, sometimes it shows you the flow of the Jet Stream over the United States.  It could start flowing East over Washington state.  Then it dips down to Texas and takes a turn to flow directly up the East Coast.

This is how the flow of the wind operates.  You can’t tell where it’s been or where it’s going just because you know the direction where you’re standing.  In Washington, it flows east, in Colorado it flows south, and in Kentucky, it flows north, all at the same time.

The flow of the Holy Spirit is just as unpredictable; that’s why we must be sensitive.  The Spirit of God may be moving through prophecy in one church, healing in another, and weeping in a third.

I can’t say that because God is not moving in your church the way He moves in mine, that therefore you are out of His will.  It takes sensitivity to the Spirit to know just what He wants to do right here, right now.

It’s just like the wind.  It takes someone who’s born of the Spirit to understand the move of the Spirit.  That’s why it’s called the “flow” of the Spirit.  It’s my goal to get in on that flow which is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But what does the flow of the Spirit have to do with unity in the body of Christ?  As you’ll see, it has everything to do with it.

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Jesus is praying in this verse for the church to be one.  This is the same Greek word that’s translated as unity in the verses we looked at in my last post.  It literally means to be one.

This is not a word that means “I agree with you”.  According to the Lord, the way it works between the Father and Himself is that He is in the Father.  It’s Christ’s desire that we share this same degree of unity.  He wants us to be one in Him.

In my next post, we’ll see how this is accomplished.

Question: What would a church look like if it operated in true unity?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Warning for Teachers

Do you see yourself as a teacher in the body of Christ?  Did you know that Scripture has a special warning for teachers?

In this post, my last in the series about the teaching ministry, I have to share a hard message.  I don’t like talking about it, but I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about it.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about teachers being the eyes of the body of Christ.  According to Scripture, they bring light to the path ahead.  With that comes a warning that I already talked about.

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

In the church, teaching is not an unimportant thing.  We should not lightly say, “I’m a teacher.”  You’re inviting a stricter judgment.

But is that really the case, or was James trying to intimidate those wanted to teach out of wrong motives?  I believe that Jesus gave the same warning to His disciples.  The problem is that the Lord used an allegory that few believers understand.

In Mark, chapter 9, it all starts when the disciples tell Jesus that they saw someone driving out demons in the Lord’s name.  But, because he wasn’t one of the twelve, they told him to stop.

Jesus told the disciples that they were wrong in telling the man to stop driving out demons.  In His explanation, He said…

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”
Mark 9:42

The phrase, causes…to sin, in this verse, literally means to trip up or entrap.  Sin always means to miss the mark of God’s perfect will.  Telling them something that trips them up in their Christian walk does cause them to sin.

Teaching something that was not directed by the Holy Spirit can trip people up in their walk with God.  This has to be an important part of the teacher’s mindset.  However, the Lord didn’t stop there.

Immediately after this, He says…

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…
Mark 9:47

First of all, no one’s eyes have ever caused them to sin.  I have definitely used my eyes to sin.  But they weren’t the cause.  I believe that Jesus knows this.

Secondly, according to this verse, only one eye is causing the sin.  How could your left eye cause you to sin, and not your right eye?  They both operate together.

I believe that Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical bodies.  He was explaining His attitude toward the members of His spiritual body; the church.

No members, especially teachers, can trip up one another without consequence.  This is why teachers must be especially careful to be led by the Holy Spirit in what they teach.

Question: How seriously should teachers be warned before entering this ministry?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Teacher – A Lamp

For the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about teachers in the body of Christ.  I showed that true teachers bring light to our Christian walk.  In our generation there’s a lot of teaching from the Bible going forth; but is it directed by the Holy Spirit?

In His ministry, Jesus made some statements that the disciples couldn’t understand.  Many of them pertained to the church.  They would only understand them after the resurrection.

One of them pertained to the body.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.”
Luke 11:34

I think you can agree that this is not talking about our internal organs being lit up.  The Lord is dealing with a deeper issue here.

To understand what Jesus is saying, you have to look at the greater context.  He starts this section by talking about the preaching of Jonah.  All of Nineveh repented when they heard his preaching.

The Lord then talks about King Solomon.  The Queen of the South came all the way from Central Africa to hear his wisdom.

Christ was showing the high value that people placed upon hearing a Word from God.  The people who heard Jonah and Solomon didn’t just want to know what the Bible said.  They were looking for something that would change their lives.

Look at the very next thing that Jesus says after explaining about Jonah and Solomon.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
Luke 11:33

The reason that these two men were called to their roles, was not to simply enjoy their times with the Lord.  They were to use their gifts to bring light to those who needed it.

The people of Nineveh needed to understand repentance so that the judgment of God could be averted.  The Queen of the South needed to understand how to rule her people wisely.  They needed someone to light the path ahead of them.

That’s what Jesus is talking about when He says that the eyes are the lamp of the body.  I believe that He’s talking about the need for Holy Spirit directed teaching in the body of Christ.

We need to come back to this truth in our generation.  I believe that this is one of the things that God is trying to restore in us.

We can see it in the church of today.  There are ministries where the people know their place in Christ and are secure in their walk with God.  There are other parts of God’s kingdom where the believers seem to be doing as they please – simply living for themselves.

We need to be praying for the church.  Pray that God would continue to raise up teachers after His own heart.  We need the body of Christ to be full of light.

Question: Why is human-led teaching so accepted in some areas?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Anointing, Ministry, Revival, Word of God

 

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The Word Confirmed

This will be my final post dealing with the Gospel of Mark.  It closes with an important key to the power that was evident in the early church.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.  Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:19-20

This verse literally says that the Lord was a co-worker with them.  They did their work – proclaiming the Word of God.  Then the Lord did His part – confirming the Word that was proclaimed.  Miracles were commonplace.  As the disciples went out, the Word of God spread, and there were signs and wonders everywhere they went.

Here’s the foundation for the power that was manifest through them.  The Bible says that when they went out, they preached the Word.  How do you see this in your mind’s eye?  What did they do, specifically?

Do you picture them walking into town, calling a meeting, and then saying, “Turn with me in your Bibles to John 3:16.”?  That’s how we do it; but did they preach that way?

If you know your history, then you understand that nothing could be further from the truth.  When this verse was written about them, they had no Bibles.  They couldn’t preach Scripture.

“Wait a minute, Pastor Nick, they had the Old Testament.  They could use that to preach.”

First of all, most Christians of that day only knew a smattering of Old Testament Scripture.  Secondly, they would have no access to an Old Testament “Bible”.

The Scripture was written on scrolls with painstaking detail.  In order to afford a copy of the Scriptures, you would need to be the equivalent of a multi-millionaire.  Then if you did purchase it, you would need a storage space the size of a small living room to house it.  Let’s face it; the normal Christian had no access to a Bible.

Yet, we’re told that they “preached the Word” wherever they went.  What is the Word that they preached?  The answer is simple – they preached what they received in their intimate times with the Lord.

As they did, an amazing thing happened.  The Lord began confirming what they had heard from Him.

I think that part of our problem is that we’ve become spoiled by an abundance of the availability of Scripture.  Bibles are everywhere.  I personally have about 20 Bibles.  That doesn’t even take into consideration all of the Bibles I have access to online.

Please understand what I’m saying.  This proliferation of Scripture is a great thing.  The availability and accessibility of the Bible to all people is a wonderful blessing.

You would think that with so much Scripture around, there would be more salvations, healings, and miracles.  Instead, what we see is a greater rise of worldliness – even among God’s people.

The problem is not that we need more Scripture.  What we do need is more of the Word of God.  The more I hear from God, the more power I have to live for God.

This is how Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church lived out their faith.  The Holy Spirit confirmed that they had heard from Him.  Signs, wonders, and miracles were common.  God’s people need to get back to that intimate place where they not only know the written Word but are also hearing a Word from the Lord, Himself.

Question: How would the face of Christianity change if a majority of believers were hearing from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Word of God

 

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The Signs

I’m continuing to look at Mark’s Gospel.  We’re now in the last chapter.  To many people, it’s a very controversial place.

Some versions of the Bible leave out Mark 16:9-20 altogether.  Others set them apart with a note that tells us that some of the most reliable manuscripts don’t have these verses.

Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth.  Maybe I’m naïve or looking at the issue too simply.  I believe that if God is not powerful enough to protect His Word and keep it pure, then how can I trust Him to protect and watch over my life?

I see it as a matter of faith.  I believe that whatever the circumstances were that brought this section of Scripture to us; it was what God wanted to be recorded.  He could have stopped it from being placed there, but He didn’t.  So, I choose to believe that this was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I know; there are some who take it out of context and use it as an excuse to do some strange things in the name of their religion.  But that doesn’t negate the truth of what’s written.

Jesus has just told His disciples to go out and proclaim the Good News of salvation to the world.  Some will not believe them, but others will, and they’ll be saved.

Now the Lord describes the signs that surround those who do believe.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Mark 16:17-18

The problem is that if you don’t believe God works miracles through the church, you’ll have to find a way to get rid of this verse.  I believe that God wants to show His power through us as much today as in the early church.  We just need to position ourselves correctly.

The key phrase is “in my name.”  In other words, Jesus is telling them that they will do these miracles in His place.  If it’s something that the Lord would have done, then His followers could do it.

But there’s a catch.  How did Christ perform miracles?  He was clear that He only did what He saw of the Father.

This means that I can’t just decide on my own to pick up a snake, drink poison, or even heal the sick without hearing from the Father.  I need to spend time with the Holy Spirit.  I must develop a sensitivity to His voice.  Then, if I operate in obedience to what the Lord tells me, I’ll truly be functioning “in His name.”

That’s important.  I can’t just do what I want and tack “In Jesus’ name” to the end of it.  That gets me nothing.  I have to be operating under the authority and direction of the Lord to see the miraculous.

Do you want to see the signs, wonders, and miracles of those who believe?  Then spend quality time with the Holy Spirit.  He’ll train you to walk the way Jesus did.

Question: Why don’t we see miracles in our churches today as they did in the early church?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Reporting the Good News

After Jesus rose from the dead, He told His disciples what they were to do going forward.  This commission was passed down to us since it was never completed.  I believe that in the Last Days, before the return of Christ, we’ll see the work finished.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
Mark 16:15

The first thing I see is the word “go”.  It’s a word that means to travel.  This is not a passive calling.

Too many believers think that their job is to operate a building.  They make sure that it has some sort of program on the weekend.  They feel that if they make this as entertaining and accessible as possible, people will come and hear the Gospel.  That’s not what Christ told us to do.

Please understand what I’m saying.  I’m not saying that there should be no churches.  What I am advocating is that most ministry should take place outside of the church building, all week long.

We were never called to attract the world, but to go into it.  The world itself is an important concept.  Jesus wasn’t talking about the planet earth.  The word that He used refers to the world system.

We are called to go into every organized system of the world.  That means there needs to be a Christian presence in government, education, sports, entertainment, the workplace, and any other environment you can think of.

Of course, there’s another word in this sentence that we have to deal with.  It’s what keeps many from sharing about Christ.  That’s the word, preach.

“It’s the preacher’s job to win the lost.  I can’t preach.  I’m not a pastor or an evangelist.  That’s someone else’s job.”

I don’t believe that this word means to preach like we think about it in our modern church culture.  The word means to be a herald.  Then again, we don’t have heralds in our society anymore.  The closest thing we have is a news reporter.

A reporter finds out what’s happening that’s important for people to know.  Then they bring it to the attention of the public.  At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

That’s our job as followers of Christ in this society.  God has accomplished something very important – the opening of salvation to all people.  We have witnessed this work being done in our lives.  Now we need to “report” this Good News to those around us.

“But I’m afraid that they won’t believe me.”

What they do with the message is not on you.

“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Mark 16:16

We’re not called to make people believe or to get people saved.  We’re simply told to report this Good News to all those within our sphere of influence.  What they do with this message is up to them.

If they believe it, then we can show them how to become a part of God’s family.  If they don’t, then we continue to love them, pray for them, and hope that their heart will open up before it’s too late.

We all have a part to play in bringing the Gospel message to the world.  There are people who will never hear about what Christ has done for them unless you bring them this Good News.

Don’t let your part of the world remain in darkness.  Be a faithful reporter of what God has done.

Question: What have you done to bring the Good News of Christ to your world?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Ministry, The Church, The Gospel

 

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