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Church Ministry (Part 2)

I’m continuing my discussion of the ministry list given by Paul in First Corinthians, chapter 12.

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

I’ve already looked at apostles, prophets, teachers, and workers of miracles.  Now I’ll continue from there.

Those having Gifts of Healing.  This is another of those ministries that God is going to restore in these last days before Christ’s return.  Every local church should have a ministry of healing prayer.

In his book, James tells us that if we’re sick we’re to call the church elders.  This means that he fully expected it to be a part of every local congregation.  It’s unfortunate that many churches don’t even believe that healing was made available to all at the cross.

I believe that God has a calling on certain people in the church to have a healing ministry.  I also believe that this could explain why so many people are not healed.  Those with whom God has entrusted these gifts are not giving them out.  Do you have a call to this great ministry?

Those Able to Help Others.  This is from the Greek word for help or relief.  It comes from a compound word that means to take turns holding on to something.

In other words, there’s something that needs to be done and we take turns meeting that need.  It could really be applied to any support ministry in the church.  This could include anything from cleaning the church, to ushering, to feeding the hungry.

There are so many support ministries that are needed for the church to run smoothly.  The unfortunate thing is that in most churches 10% of the people do 90% of the work.  That’s not the way God sees it. Everyone is called to do something.

Those with Gifts of Administrations.  The literal Greek of this word is steerage.  Those who can steer the ship.  This is an important concept that’s missed in many churches.

There are two levels of leadership in the church.  There’s the apostolic – the pastoral team – who spend time before God finding out the vision for where the Lord is taking the church.  Then there’s the leadership team who steer their departments in the direction of that vision.

I’ve seen this principle abused in a number of ways.  There are churches where the pastor is merely an employee of the church committee.  That’s absolutely anti-scriptural.

Then there are other churches where the pastor puts himself in charge of everything.  That’s just as wrong.

We need to follow scriptural patterns if we don’t want our church to run aground.

Those Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues.  This is a reference to the ministry of intercession in the church.  There are those who are called to spend a large quantity of time in private prayer in the spirit.

These prayer warriors are praying for people and situations that, for the most part, they don’t even know about.  In the natural, we can only pray according to our limited human thinking.  When we pray in tongues – in the spirit – we’re praying God’s will, even if we don’t know what we’re praying about.  It’s a much-needed ministry.

As God continues to restore these ministries we’ll see a growth in the power of the church.  Signs, wonders, and miracles will be on the increase.  Make it your prayer that God would use you in any area that He sees fit.  Then be expecting great things from the Lord!

Question: What’s your vision of the church that Christ will return for?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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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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The Place of Worship

Worship is a word that we use a lot as Christians.  Do we really understand what it means?  We call church buildings “place of worship.”  But that’s not entirely correct.  Actually, there are many churches where there hasn’t been any real worship for years, yet they still call what they’re doing “worship services.”
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle is dealing with people who have lost sight of their spiritual identity.  They don’t really know who they are in Christ.  Consequently, their worship has become a set of rules.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

The Bible is clear that for us, the temple is not a physical building.  We find this thought in more than one spot in the Word.  When we’re told that you are the temple, sometimes the you is singular and sometimes it’s plural.

Regardless of the tense that’s used, the meaning is clear.  Worship takes place in people.  It’s not about a special location.  It takes place in me or in us.

But what is this place of worship that we’re called to?  Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer uses the term, draw near, only for worship.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:22-24

The true place of worship is around the throne of God; for He’s the only one worthy to be worshiped.  The Apostle John had a vision of the majesty of this place.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders.  They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.  Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing.  These are the seven spirits of God.  Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:4-6

True worship takes place around the throne of God.  The fact is that when we worship, we’re transported, in the spirit, to God’s throne.  That’s because worship is a supernatural encounter with God.  It has nothing to do with our flesh, but everything to do with our spirit.

In talking to the woman at the well, Jesus spoke about this truth.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

When you pray in the spirit, you’re brought into the very presence of God.  Your spirit is there with others in God’s throne room.

That’s why it surprises me that there are those who simply ignore this awesome opportunity that we’ve been given.  We’re allowed instant access into the place of worship in the throne room of the Sovereign of the universe.  Take advantage of this great invitation that we’ve been given.

Question: How often do you worship in spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spirit Investigation

In my last post, I talked about the spiritual Christian.  We read a verse that the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

One of the last statements I made was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated.  You may wonder why I used the word, investigate, when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case.  It’s the investigation stage of the trial.  Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things.  On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out.  It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer.  They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I’ve taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God.  Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them.  Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from.  I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it.  What commentaries do you use?”

The soulish Christian just can’t wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit.  They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord.  A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He’s made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English.  The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used.  What he literally said was, who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That’s a very powerful question.  He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ.  The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord.  All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life.  This is why we need to live daily in the spirit.  The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.  That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the spirit.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift.  Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Spiritual Believer

I’ve been posting about the Apostle Paul’s description of how prayer in the spirit brings God’s wisdom to us.  If we want God’s best, then we need to develop a rich spiritual prayer life.  Unfortunately, in this generation, there aren’t many examples to follow.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

The phrase, man without the Spirit, is literally the soulish man in Greek.  The New Testament actually speaks of three different kinds of Christians.  This is one of those described.

First, there’s the carnal or fleshly Christian.  This is the type of believer who serves God according to the way he or she feels.

“If I feel like going to church, I’ll go. If not I’ll stay home.”

Their flesh is in control of every decision they make.  Carnal Christians are very nominal at best.

Next, there’s the soulish or natural Christian, depending upon the translation of the Bible you use.  This kind of Believer serves God because he or she has made a conscious decision to serve Him.  They’ve decided that the Lord’s way is best no matter what they feel like.

They’ll give their best for the Lord because they believe it’s the right thing to do.  They serve the Lord with all of their soul. They’re very strong in their faith, and they can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of heaven.

There is, however, another class of believer spoken of in the Word of God.  That’s the spiritual Christian. He or she is the believer who lives their life by using their spirit to its fullest extent in their interaction with God.

This is the one that we either hear very little about or we mistake it for a soulish Christian who’s doing great works for Christ.  Over the years we’ve redefined many of the terms used in the Scripture.  It’s time to straighten out the rough spots.  In the above passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between a spiritual and soulish Christian.

According to Paul, the soulish person cannot understand life in the spirit.  The Greek literally says that he does not have the power to accept them.  The apostle actually uses the Greek word dunamis in this verse.

A soulish believer does not have the dunamis – the power – to receive the things that can only come by the Spirit.  This person is left to rely upon earthly means of communication to receive what he needs from the Lord.  This is because, as Paul writes, these things are spiritually investigated.

Without question, a soulish believer can receive from God.  The problem is that it’s a longer process.  As I said in the illustration in my last post – I’d much rather send an e-mail, than write out a letter to send from the Post Office.

Over the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul describes this spiritual Christian.

Question: How far do you venture into your spiritual life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2019 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Spirit Words

I’m posting about the tremendous amount of power we have access to while praying in the spirit.  It’s all about how our spirit and the Holy Spirit work together to bring about God’s will in our lives.

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12

God does not desire to hold anything back from His children.  Verse 12 tells us, literally, that we can know by seeing what God has freely given us.

As I’ve recently posted, this is not known to us by reading the Bible.  It’s not revealed by hearing great sermons or prophetic words.  It’s only known in that intimate place when my spirit and the Holy Spirit communicate in the language of heaven.  This is reinforced by the next verse.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 2:13

What is it that the Spirit of God teaches us?  He teaches us the wisdom of God.  But He can’t put it into human words.  They’re not adequate for the task.  The Spirit must use spiritual words.

What is a spiritual word?  If you ask some people, they’ll tell you that King James English is speaking in spiritual words!  Please understand that using “thee” and “thou” does not mean you’re speaking in spiritual words.

Spiritual words can only be words spoken in the spiritual realm by your spirit and the Holy Spirit.  It’s the language they use to communicate on that higher level.

Look at it this way.  If I had a friend in Italy, and wanted to send him a message, I could type it up and send it Airmail.  He would then receive it in about a week or so.  This is how humans have conversed long distance for thousands of years.

Now, with my computer, I can type up the letter using E-mail.  When I hit the “send” button, the entire letter is converted into digital words and sent into the internet.  My friend can then receive it instantaneously.  But in order to use this marvelous technique, my computer must be interfaced with the internet so that this letter can travel through cyberspace.

But it’s much more than that.  It’s not only English words that can be converted into digital words.  I can convert pictures into digital words and send them just as fast.  More than that, I can also convert songs and videos into digital words and send them instantly across the planet, simply because of the power of the internet.  I can’t do that with human words.

This is the truth that Paul is trying to convey to us about the language of the spirit.  It was something that he had an intimate knowledge about, but we’ve all but lost in our modern age.  He’s trying to tell us that there are deep principles that God wants us to learn.  The problem is that if the Lord has to use the English language it will take Him 20 years to get it across to us.

Yes, God has many means at His disposal.  He could use the Bible, pastors, teachers, situations and a host of other things.  But if He could communicate to us by the Spirit, using spirit words, He could get the whole message across to us in one instant.  The language of the spirit is the single most efficient way of communicating with the Father.  Every believer should be using this gift that has been bestowed upon the church.

Question: What have you learned from the Holy Spirit while praying in the spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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