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Making Christ Central

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  We’re now in chapter 12 where he begins to talk about our spiritual life.

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
1 Corinthians 12:1

The first thing we need to realize is that the word “gift” is not in the original. What Paul literally says is that he doesn’t want the church to be uninformed about the spiritual.  To do that, he’ll talk about more than just gifts.

He begins by addressing their spiritual heritage.

You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
1 Corinthians 12:2

Because they were a mainly Gentile church, their background included the worship of idols.  They had a history of serving gods that couldn’t speak.  That’s very different from where they are now.

We serve a God who wants to speak to and through His people.  That requires a different kind of lifestyle.  We need to be in a position where we’re ready to hear and obey His voice.  Along with that, we need to discern between the other voices trying to get our attention.

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3

I have a problem with the way this verse is usually explained.  Why would any Christian need to be told that someone saying, “Jesus be cursed” is not speaking by the Holy Spirit?  There’s a deeper issue here.

In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to former idol worshippers.  The word for cursed is the Greek word anathema.  It’s a word that has a specific meaning in regards to the worship of the Greek and Roman gods.

In these pagan temples, if you wanted to appease a god that you needed a blessing from, you would give an animal sacrifice.  Once it was consecrated to that god, it was hung on a wall or a column of that god’s temple.  Now you could go your way and never have to think about it anymore.

In reality, Paul is explaining to these former pagan worshippers, that Jesus was not merely some offering made to appease an angry god.  Christ was, is, and always will be Lord of all.  Not only that, but He now wants to be on speaking terms with His people.

When you’re in a relationship with the true God, He wants a constant interaction with you.  He wants to have power over what you say and do.  He wants to set the direction of your life.

I hate to say it, but sometimes we get this “anathema Jesus” attitude in the modern church.  There are many who have accepted Christ as merely a payment for their sin.  They’re not looking for a relationship with a Lord who wants to direct their lives.

Being a Christian means that Christ has a central role in all that you do.  We live to please Him.  That means we need to spend time in His presence, listening for the voice of His Spirit.

This is where Paul starts with the Corinthian church.  He’s going to explain to them the earmarks of a spiritual life.  What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?

Hopefully, as we continue on in this study, we’ll receive insight that will help us in our daily spiritual walk.

Question: How do you make your relationship with Christ central in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on June 10, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Family or Slavery?

When it comes to serving Christ, why do some choose rules over a relationship?  I believe that, just like in a family, good relationships are harder to maintain.  This is the very thing that Paul talks about in his letter to the Galatian church.

Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says?
Galatians 4:21

Many people are under the assumption that following a set of rules is the best way to serve God.  They think that as long as they try to do good things and keep away from the evil things, then they’ll be okay.  Unfortunately, this kind of thinking shows a basic misunderstanding of how God operates through His people.

The Apostle Paul, an expert in the law, explains this important truth to the church.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise.
Galatians 4:22-23

When we talk about a relationship, especially in the spirit, it has nothing to do with the works you’ve done.  The important thing is how you entered the relationship.  How do you begin to relate to God?

Paul says that there are two ways.  He uses the example of Abraham’s two children.  He tells us that one was born according to the flesh, the other by an announcement from God.  So the two ways of relating to God are by natural means; or by the Word of God.

Many people try the natural method.  They look at their lives and say, “It’s about time that I grow up.  I need to start taking more responsibility and act in a more mature way.”  They say that they’ve “turned over a new leaf.”

They start to read the Bible and think about how they can live like the good people described in its pages.  There’s no spiritual change, it’s all done in the flesh.  They use self-discipline and drive to accomplish their goal to live better.

Please understand – the desire to walk in maturity is a commendable thing.  The problem is that it’s nearly impossible in the natural.  Ask anyone who attends an AA meeting.  It only takes one weak moment to knock you back to the start of the whole process.

That’s what Paul’s talking about here.

These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.  One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.  Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.
Galatians 4:24-25

Paul talks about two covenants.  But if you remember, he already told the Galatian church that the law was not really a covenant, but an addendum to the true covenant.  (Click here to review it.)

What he’s saying is that if you want to view the Law as another covenant, then you’re headed for slavery.  And I can tell you plainly that this is not God’s will for you.  The Lord wants a family, not slaves.

Christ went to the cross so that His people could walk in total freedom.  As we continue to go through Galatians in future posts, we’ll see how this freedom is supposed to work in us.

Question: What are the similarities and differences between the family and slavery relationships?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Walk of Unity and Fellowship

PowerlessI’ve been posting about fellowship and unity lately. It’s all about recognizing those who are serving Christ around me. Understanding their differences, and working with them for God’s glory.

The Apostle Paul describes it this way…

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7

His prayer is that the same God who gives endurance and encouragement will now give them a spirit of unity. But that phrase, spirit of unity, is interesting in the original Greek. It’s literally asking God to give us a mind toward one another.

This goes right along with what we have been saying about unity thus far. I should be thinking about you. You’re on my mind so that I can understand your calling. In that way I can see how we fit together in the body of Christ.

Truly, we’re not called to be an organization, but an organism. We should be functioning seamlessly together because of the Holy Spirit within us. As we hear the voice of the Spirit and watch over each other, we are now equipped to fulfill the next part of this passage.

Only in unity can we glorify God with one heart and one mouth. Especially since the word translated heart is really the word passion. As I spend time in the Spirit, I pick up God’s passion.

It’s not about me convincing you what you need to be passionate about. If we could all be synced to God’s heartbeat, then we’ll operate in one passion. Time with the Spirit brings true unity.

The goal is to function together. It’s not up to you to change in order to please me. That’s not what Christ did. He paid the price for me to go to Him. Sometimes it will cost me something to overlook the faults and differences that you bring with you.

I must receive you just as Christ received me. Just as you are. I’m not the Holy Spirit. I have to leave room for God’s grace to work in you. None of us are perfect yet. The Lord receives us just the way we are and we need to do the same.

Unity is a choice. It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please making everyone else think like me.” That’s not true unity. It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

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 1:10

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching. It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. As I allow the mind of Christ to take over my life, I’m setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we will walk in. This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people. Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What must I do to yield to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Fellowship, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fellowship and Unity

WalkWhat is fellowship? Is it merely sitting together in a church service, then going home? Or is it more than that?

I want to take a couple of posts to talk about fellowship and unity. Both what it is and why it’s so important.

The Old Testament prophet, Amos, had some insight into this subject.

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Amos 3:3

That’s an interesting question, and one that we should be asking ourselves regularly. What he’s really asking is if two can walk in unity, as one. How do you accomplish that?

In English it reads that they agreed to do so. The literal Hebrew says that they must fix upon each other. That’s just like soldiers marching together.

They need to fix upon each other so that their steps will be in sync with the soldiers around them. That’s the difference between soldiers marching together and a crowded sidewalk.

Sometimes I wonder about the body of Christ these days. Are we more like soldiers, marching in step? Or an unruly crowd, all headed in generally the same direction?

That’s why we need true fellowship. It’s through fellowship that we coordinate our lives together. Fellowship and unity go hand in hand. You can’t have unity without true fellowship.

Fellowship is knowing that I can’t serve Christ effectively without understanding your calling. That’s because none of us is called to serve Christ in a vacuum. We’re all interdependent upon each other (or at least we should be).

Our natural inclination is to only think about ourselves. We’re all individual pieces with nothing to hold us together. There needs to be some sort of spiritual “glue” to keep us from going in separate directions. Actually, God has provided just what we need.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18

We must have a revelation – a clear Word – from God. This verse says that without it we cast off restraint. That literally means that our group loosens and falls apart. Hearing from the Holy Spirit is what keeps us marching together.

That’s why we must be in fellowship with each other. We hear from God to hold us together. We fix upon each other so that we can walk in sync together.

In my next post I want to go into detail about these issues. I want to talk about the revelation that’s needed and also, how to fix upon each other so that we can walk in unity.

Question: What would church look like if we were all ministering in unity?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Last Days – Separating the Fish

SONY DSCThis will be my last post in my series about the Last Day’s weeding that the Lord will perform in His Kingdom.  Jesus went on to underscore this message by telling another parable.

“Once again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into a lake and caught all kinds of fish.  When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on shore.  Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age.  The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13:47-50

The Lord tells us that the kingdom is like a net let down into a lake.  This net has been dredging the lake for 2000 years now.  It has caught a variety of fish.  Some of the fish are good and some are bad.

There are people who claim to be Christians yet know nothing of the Biblical means of salvation.  They’re relying on their own good works or their church membership instead of the blood of the crucified, buried, and risen Lord.

There are many that have heard and rejected the Good News because they like their own version better.  They say things like, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something.”  The church universal is full of good fish and bad fish.

So what’s new about that?  It’s been like this for hundreds of years.  It will not go on like this forever.  God is starting a separation process.

When the net is full, or literally, complete and finished, something new is going to happen.  Angels are going to be dispatched to separate out of the kingdom of God those who really don’t want to be there on God’s terms.  The word separate means to set off by a boundary.

In the last days God is going to perform a supernatural work that makes a clear distinction between His people and the world.  Right now the church and the world look very much alike.  Divorce, abuse, crime, and substance abuse levels are almost equal.

The end of the age is the time set by the Lord to cleanse His Temple.  He’s going to show that there’s a difference between His kingdom and the world.  It will soon become impossible to straddle the fence.

If you’re wise, you’ll make your decision now to serve Christ wholeheartedly.  Don’t wait until the weeding forces you to make up your mind.  Don’t miss out on a single thing that the Lord has planned for you.

We live in exciting times.  If you go all out for the Lord, then I can promise you that you’ll be a part of the greatest adventure the world has ever known.

Question: How different should we be from the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2013 in Encouragement, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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