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God’s Armor – Using the Shoes of Readiness

In my last post, I talked about what the shoes protect.  They keep our endurance to complete God’s will in our lives.  Today I want to talk about how to use this piece of armor.

We’re told in Ephesians 6:15, that this readiness comes from the Gospel of Peace.  The Apostle explained this Gospel right in this same letter.  You may want to read Ephesians 2:11-22 before continuing with this post.

In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul shows us that the Gentiles were far from God, while the Jews were in His family.  However, when Christ came, He destroyed all the barriers.

Formerly there were three parties at war: God, Gentiles, and the Jews.  Through His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus reconciled all people to Himself.  We are all members of one body.  We all have unlimited access to God.

Paul concludes that chapter by stating the point of the Gospel of Peace.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22

Now, everyone who bows their knee to Christ has a place in this Temple.  We are being built into a dwelling place for God.

What we’re told to do takes effort.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

We’re told here to guard the oneness of the Spirit in the bond, or literally, the ligament of peace.  Contrary to what many say, peace is not just some calming factor.  It’s the glue, the unifying factor, in the body of Christ.

This tells me that I put on my Shoes of Readiness by connecting to the body of Christ.  In talking about the reason for the five-fold ministry gifts, the Apostle Paul explains it.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
Ephesians 4:12

This is why we connect with the body of Christ.  By connecting, I learn to serve.

I know that right now many don’t go to church meetings.  Maybe they’ve been hurt in the past.  Or it could be the proliferation of TV and online preachers.

There’s a question that some ask.  “Can’t I be a Christian and never go to a church?”  The answer to that is yes, but it’s not all about you.  Apart from a local church, you can never be prepared for works of service that build up the body of Christ.

Of course, there are a lot of believers who attend church yet aren’t connected.  That puts you in the same condition.  You’re shoeless.

As a matter of fact, the above verse continues to say…

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

It’s all about the body of Christ as a whole operating on the level of Christ.  That’s not going to happen without us all being connected.  The church needs to arise in this generation.

That’s how you put on the shoes of readiness.  You can’t move forward unless you find your connection.  If you’re not connected to a local body of believers, then you’re trying to walk without shoes.

It’s my connection to a local church that fleshes out the Gospel of Peace.  Then, from that connection, my spiritual feet can be protected as I move forward in God’s will.

Question: What are your connections in the body of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Church Ministry (Part 1)

In my last post, we saw the list of ministry functions needed for a healthy church.  In today’s article, I want to begin looking at them in more detail.

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12:28-30

As I said in my last post, even though some of these may sound similar to the manifestations of the Spirit, it’s not the same list.

Apostle.  Over the years, we’ve Christianized this word to the point where the meaning is almost lost to us.  We get the idea that it’s a “holy man” so high in the ranks that it’s all but unreachable.  Some teach that after the first 12 apostles, there were never any more.

We need to understand that Paul is talking about ministry in the local church here.  That means this apostolic ministry should be found within each local congregation.

This word means to be set apart as a messenger or delegate.  It’s someone who is under orders to go to a certain place and represent the one who sent them.  I believe this is talking about the pastoral ministry in the local church.  It’s the person or people who oversee all the other ministries of the church.

Prophet.  These are people who hear God’s voice and speak what He wants to be said.  We need to be aware of what God is saying to the church.

I think that sometimes we get the idea that prophecy is always about the future.  That’s not the case.  A prophet will reveal truth that we need to hear.

There are times when a prophet will bring hidden sins to the surface so they can be dealt with.  Sometimes it’s a word of encouragement or insight into a challenge we’re going through.  And, yes, there are times when they will reveal something that’s about to happen in the future.

Teacher.  This is the one that we’re the most familiar with.  It’s the person who helps others by explaining truth that has already been revealed in Scripture.

However, that’s not as easy as it sounds.  In the church, we’re not just dealing with facts and figures.  We’re to train people in how to apply the truth of Scripture to their daily walk.

This requires us to spend time in the presence of the Great Teacher – the Holy Spirit.  He alone will give us the insight we need to speak life to those who will listen.  A godly teacher will make deep truths accessible to those who want to learn.

Workers of Miracles.  Now we’re getting into an area we don’t see very often.  Maybe it’s because nobody thinks of this as a ministry of the church.  In most churches, miracles aren’t common anymore.

Simply put, the word miracle in this verse is actually the Greek word for power.  It’s talking about people who consistently walk in the power of God.  They’re the ones you go to when you have a pressing need.

These people should definitely be a part of the church prayer team.  They spend time in the Lord’s presence developing their faith and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Like I said, this isn’t seen very much in the church of our generation.  My hope is that as I teach it, many will feel the call to walk in this great ministry.  Then, they’ll spend the time needed to develop intimacy with God.

In my next post, I’ll continue explaining these important local church ministries.  If you don’t already know your calling in the body of Christ, read them prayerfully.  Be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do through you.

Question: Why does the church of our generation seem to downplay the more powerful ministries?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Body Agreement

 

meLyRzsWe are not called to live solitary lives. In Christ we’re part of a body. We need each other. Without the local church, we can never reach our greatest potential.

God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:9-10

I think it’s beyond question that our God is faithful. What He’s looking for, is faithful people. The Lord wants to see believers who walk wholeheartedly with Him. How is that possible, unless we walk faithfully with each other?

This will require us to walk in agreement. Agreement is a place of power in the Holy Spirit. In the above verse the word agree means to speak the same thing. The only way that will happen is if we’re all speaking the Word of God.

It takes time in the Word to bring about agreement. It’s not about me convincing you that I’m right. It’s when we both come into agreement that God’s way is right.

The Lord wants us to unite in mind and thought – with no divisions. The simple truth is that this will never happen if we all do our own things. There has to be a coming together for fellowship around the Word of God. That’s what church is all about, or at least it should be. The Word should be central to everything we say and do.

What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26

This means that we regularly meet together as the church. But to do that correctly, I have to come prepared. The church is not a place I come to with all my baggage and expect “them” to bless “me”. I need to arrive prayed up, built up, and ready to be a blessing to someone else. Of course, in the process I end up being blessed as well.

That’s what church is all about. Everyone coming with Christ as our focus. If we expect Him to be present and the Holy Spirit to direct the service, then we can be certain that we’ll grow together in unity. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to grow in the Lord and in fellowship with one another. Make sure you’re an active member of the body of Christ.

Question: What do you do to build up your local church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2015 in Ministry, The Church

 

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The End-Time Deception

103_A_BonusPhotoWhat did Jesus teach His disciples about the end-times and His return? That’s the subject of this series of posts. I’m dealing with Christ’s teaching in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.

When we finish this section of Scripture, there will be no doubt as to what Jesus taught about His return. This will be interesting to see because at this point, most American Christians believe that the saints will be resurrected seven years before Christ reveals Himself to the world.

I made up my mind to believe Jesus no matter what He reveals, which should be your attitude as well. If you’re prepared to believe Jesus over anything that man might say, then read on!

The first thing that Jesus does is to give the disciples the short version.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in may name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
Matthew 24:4-5

The initial warning that Jesus gives us is about deceivers. The word deceiver in the Greek literally means those who cause others to leave the path. People will come who make it their goal to remove you from the path of following Christ wholeheartedly. Their methods may vary from time to time and from place to place, but the outcome is the same.

These imitations claim to be the anointed one, which is what Christ means in Greek. They want to convince you that they have the lock on God’s power or His anointing. Many Christians are all too willing to follow these signs from revival to camp meeting to healing service. They never seem to want to settle down under godly teaching.

Please realize that I’m not knocking the revival meeting. I love being a part of the move of God. What I’m saying is that every believer must be plugged-in to a local church body where they’re constantly being fed from God’s Word.

If not, they’ll end up remaining a baby Christian their whole life. Of course, some prefer it that way since they never have to take on the responsibility of ministry. Then, they can just go from place to place getting fed their spiritual bottle.

If deception is a big part of living in the Last-Days, then how do we guard ourselves?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13

It’s through the mutual encouragement of the body of believers that we keep from being deceived. That’s one of the benefits of being connected to a local church.

But wait! The writer of Hebrews also said…

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

This verse explains why there is such deception in the Last Days. Believers will be attending church less and less frequently. One of the reasons I feel we’re close to Christ’s Return is because this is an epidemic in the body of Christ right now.

Don’t open yourself to the deceptions of this age. Be an active part of a local body of believers.

Question: Why is church attendance by Christians in such decline in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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