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The Supernatural Orchestra

In the last few posts, we’ve been looking at how the church should be built up through prophecy, and tongues and interpretation.  God wants to strengthen us by His power.

Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?  Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:7-8

In talking about the need for understanding, Paul uses the example of musical instruments.  When we gather together, God has a purpose for what’s being said.  If someone is speaking, then it should be useful to build others up in the faith.

In an orchestra, everyone doesn’t just arrive and start playing whatever they want on their instruments.  They all play the same song together.  Even if some play melody and some play harmony, together they make a cohesive whole.

When we gather together, we need to speak with purpose.  The Holy Spirit is the great Conductor.  He should be orchestrating the whole so that all who attend are touched by His presence.

So it is with you.  Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?  You will just be speaking into the air.  Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.  If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
1 Corinthians 14:9-11

I understand that the context of this passage is about the need for a message in tongues to be interpreted.  However, in our generation, there’s another point that needs to be made.

In the modern church, we’ve come up with our own particular culture and language.  I sometimes wonder what the unchurched think about when they hear what we say in church.

We question why they don’t respond when we call them to be “washed in the blood” or “come to the cross”.  Those phrases have great meaning to us as believers.  But to the world, they mean nothing.

I’m not saying, like some do, that we need to stop preaching the blood of Christ or His cross.  No, instead, we need to be explaining the significance of these words.  We can’t just assume that everybody knows what we mean by these church terms.

Since I’ve already started going there, let me make a few more people mad at me.  I think that this also applies to those who insist on only using the King James Version of the bible.  That’s a foreign language to most people today.

It’s perfectly fine to use the KJV if those you’re speaking to were raised hearing it.  But in my case, a great number of people that I minister to don’t have English as their first language.  They need to hear the Word of God in a way that they can grasp and apply to their lives.

We need to stop being self-centered in our view of church ministry.  It’s not about what I want.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s desire that should be central.

When we come together as believers, we need to be in prayer as to how the Lord wants His service to flow.  It’s not about the songs I want to sing or the sermon I want to preach.  Christ is the head of the church and He should set the direction for each meeting.

Only in that way will we be assured that everyone in attendance, who are expecting to receive something, will meet with God.

Question: How do we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our church gatherings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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The Purpose of Prayer in the Spirit

In my last post, I began to talk about two specific gifts of the Spirit – prophecy, and prayer in the spirit (tongues).  I showed that Paul’s emphasis was for the church of Corinth, and us as well, to make sure that loving others was the key ministry.

Now, I want to get into what Paul says in more detail.  It’s important that we understand how these gifts operate.  I believe that God wants His church to flow in this anointing.  That’s how the world will be evangelized in our generation.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:2

Further on in this epistle, Paul writes that he spoke in tongues more than all who were in the church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:18).  This tells me that he had an intimate knowledge of the use and the function of the gift.  Paul wrote about his experiences in the Greek language, which is a very descriptive language.

In order for us to understand what Paul wrote we rely upon translators to help us.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of these translators.  I’m in awe of the amount of work they have before them and realize that I could never accomplish half of what they do.  I’m very grateful for their work.

That being said, I also have a problem with a particular portion of their work.  As I’ve said, Paul wrote to us about his experiences in the deep usage of prayer in the spirit.  Unfortunately, the translators who worked on that passage may not have even experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, let alone the deeper works.

In reading the words that Paul wrote, these translators didn’t understand why Paul was using the words that he used.  So they tried to explain Paul’s words instead of telling us exactly what he said.

Because of this, many of the deeper truths of the Gift of Tongues were lost.  It’s my prayer that the Lord will once again restore our knowledge of these concepts through godly teachings such as this.

The verse I just quoted is one such verse.  The English words used in the translation are not the Greek words used in the original text.  After Paul tells us that the person is speaking to God, not to man, the next sentence actually reads (in Greek), “Indeed, no man hears him; his spirit speaks mysteries.”

This gives us fresh insight into the gift.  When I pray in tongues, I’m not speaking to man, but to God.  What’s coming out of my mouth is immaterial to the spiritual communication that’s going on.

According to Paul, no man even hears what I’m saying to God.  It’s not your flesh that’s communicating with Him.  There’s no correlation between what’s coming out of your mouth, and what is being exchanged with God in the spirit.

This is an important truth in understanding the gift of the spirit.  Every spiritual gift has its own unique purpose.  The reason I pray in the spirit is to speak directly to God from my spirit.

This is one of the most powerful parts of our spiritual walk.  It gives us access to the mind of God.  Paul talked about it in detail at the beginning of this letter.  To read my posts about it, click here for the starting post.

As we continue in this chapter, we’ll receive insight into the uses of both tongues and prophecy.  They’re both vitally needed in our Christian experience.

Question: How important is the Baptism of the Spirit to your walk with God?

©2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Tongues – The Sign

FireI’ve been sharing about why God uses prayer in the spirit. In my last post I talked about giving control over to God. But does that mean that when I pray in tongues I’m ‘out of control’?

The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:32

Paul is talking about church order in this section of Scripture. He talks about the limits we place in public meetings.

According to Paul, no one can say, “I just had to – I couldn’t control it.” In context he’s talking about the gift of prophecy. But it’s the same for tongues, healing, or any gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. My spirit is always under the control of my soul.

Does that mean that I’m controlling everything that happens? No. I simply can allow the gift to operate or not operate at any given moment.

Think about sports, for instance. An athlete will spend an enormous amount of time practicing so that his body will function almost independently. We call that eye, hand coordination. If a third baseman has to think about catching a line drive, it’s already too late.

In certain areas we’ll let our body do things on its own. Our mind initiates the response, but reflex takes over. It’s the same with prayer in the spirit.

We need to let prayer in the spirit become a reflex of the spirit. I know when I need to commune with God, and whether or not it’s an appropriate time. Then, if it’s right, I give my spirit the freedom to go where the Holy Spirit will lead.

The reason tongues is so important should be obvious. Paul talks about the reasons we use our spirit to talk to God.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

God is trying to get our attention. With Israel He tried using prophets, but they wouldn’t listen. So God used other means to get His word across.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22

This verse seems to confuse people. The first definition of the word sign is a distinguishing mark. For instance, circumcision was the sign of the covenant. The second definition of sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues gets people’s attention.

So what Paul is saying in this verse, is that tongues is not unusual to believers (or at least they shouldn’t be).  It’s something that gets the attention of unbelievers. Prophecy, speaking for God, is not that unusual for unbelievers. They’ve heard moving speeches before.

When used together in a meeting, tongues will get their attention, and then the prophetic word will open their hearts. Both are needed. This generation is in desperate need of seeing the hand of God at work.

It’s time for God’s people to spend time praying in the spirit. It’s not just a spiritual toy to take out when we want to feel happy. It’s vital to our spiritual growth and the evangelism of our nation.

Question: How have you experienced tongues and prophecy working together in the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Why Prayer in the Spirit?

FireI talk a lot about praying in the spirit. I believe that it’s an important part of the Christian walk. Sometimes it can be a controversial subject. I want to take a few posts to talk about why God chooses this method.

We read about the start of this in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descended upon the church.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:4

Jesus had prepared His disciples, telling them that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit if they waited in Jerusalem. Then it happened on the day of Pentecost. There was a sound like wind, fire rested on each person’s head, and then they started speaking in unknown tongues.

Please realize that the word tongues was the old English word for languages. Somehow the name stuck even though we don’t use it that way today. We’re really talking about the gift of languages.

Why does God choose to use this gift? First of all, the gift of tongues is the proof of the baptism in the Spirit. We see this throughout the book of Acts.

It was that way when the Gentiles first received salvation.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Acts 10:45-46

This was the proof the Jewish believers needed to know that salvation was opened to the Gentiles. They understood it because the Gentiles received the same gifting.

At one point Paul was ministering and met some men who had only received John’s baptism. He then preached to them the fuller revelation of Christ. They believed Paul’s testimony and were baptized.

On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Acts 19:5-6

This is the proof that the early church had of the baptism of the Spirit. What about the other things, like prophecy or healings? I’ve heard some people teach that these are valid proofs as well. I don’t agree with them because all of the other spiritual manifestations were seen in the Old Testament without the baptism.

I believe that this gift of tongues is the only evidence of an immersed life – it’s the start of our prayer language. But a reasonable question many ask is; why tongues? Why not fire, wind, or something else?

Speaking in an unknown language seems so foolish. Then again, foolish never bothered God. If something that looks foolish brings about the results God wants – He’s okay with it.

So I want to take a couple of posts to deal with the issue of; why tongues? What is it about our prayer language that makes it important for us to use regularly? I believe this series will be a help to those struggling to understand it.

Question: How often do you use your prayer language?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Spiritual Interaction

PowerlessIn my last post I started to talk about prayer in the spirit. We saw that it’s a spiritual communication with the Lord. But how does this help me?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Romans 8:26-27

This is a verse that the translators had some problems with. First of all, there’s no capital “s” in the word spirit. They did that because they believed that this passage was referring to the Holy Spirit.

Actually, this verse is talking about the interaction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. I believe that the first part is talking about our human spirit. I would ask you to trust me on this for now.

We will look at another verse in my next post that will bear me out (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). At that point, if you disagree, you’re free to disregard what I say. But for now I ask you to keep an open mind.

I believe that verse 26 is saying that our spirit cooperates with our weakness. It’s very familiar with the failings of our flesh. Because it knows you intimately, your spirit works with your weakness.

What is the weakness that it’s talking about here? The literal Greek in this verse says, we do not know, by seeing and observing, the objective of the prayer precisely as needed. We don’t always fully understand what we’re praying for. As a pastor, when someone comes forward for prayer, I want to see them blessed. If they say, “Pastor, I’m having severe headaches – pray for me.”, then I want to see them healed. So I pray in the name of Jesus, against that sickness.

What this verse is saying is that I don’t always know what’s happening. According to my observation, the person needs to be healed of the headaches. However, what if I don’t know that this person has been nursing bitterness against a brother in the Lord? What if the headaches are a physical manifestation of this bitterness?

There are many sins that can cause physical symptoms. The objective of the prayer should be to let go of the bitterness. That’s why the Scripture says that I don’t always know the objective of the prayer exactly as needed. This is a part of my weakness that my spirit helps me with.

So, what does my spirit do to help me? According to this verse, my spirit intercedes over me with sighs that cannot be spoken. Literally, you cannot put what the spirit is doing into words. The fact is, your spirit intercedes for you.

Now, here’s the great part. It says that he who searches our hearts does this work. It’s my spirit who searches my heart. Again, I’ll show you this elsewhere in Scripture in my next post. My spirit searches my heart AND knows the mind of THE SPIRIT.

Here I believe that THE SPIRIT is the Holy Spirit of God. This can only be what it means. Why would Paul feel it necessary to tell us that the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Holy Spirit?

So what this tells me is that my spirit knows my weaknesses and searches my heart. But, because of the fact that the Holy Spirit now resides in me, my spirit also knows the mind of the Holy Spirit. And it’s this same Holy Spirit that intercedes for all the saints in the perfect will of God.

This is simply the most powerful interaction that anyone could ever hope for. These two things are happening as we pray in the spirit. My spirit intercedes for me knowing both my needs and my weaknesses. The Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints knowing God’s will. As they get together and share with one another, there’s nothing that they cannot accomplish together.

Question: How does prayer in the spirit bring your prayer life to a whole new level?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk

 

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Building Yourself Up

Music ManMany people ask why prayer in the spirit is so important. Many times it’s used as a spiritual toy that we only take out to play with on Sunday mornings. Scripture lets us know that it’s much more than that.

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4

I’ve heard many people talk about this passage of Scripture. Some think it means, “Prophecy good, tongues bad.” The truth of the matter is that there are two totally different gifts that are to be used for two totally different purposes.

The reason God gives you the gift of this spiritual language is to edify you! The word edify literally means to build up. I can’t serve God without constantly being built up on the inside. One of the most important reasons that God has given us this gift is so that we can regularly strengthen ourselves by the spirit.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

This verse tells us that it’s our spirit, not our mouth that’s doing the praying. My mind doesn’t understand what’s taking place. This is because the transfer is spiritual. At one point the Lord gave me an excellent illustration to emphasize this truth.

During a sermon when I was speaking on this topic, I asked my Assistant Pastor to come up front to help me demonstrate. I gave him no prior warning as to what would be happening. I then gave him a CD player and told him to place the earphones on.

I then told him and the congregation, that when I press the play button, my assistant would hear a pastor preaching a salvation message. What I wanted my assistant to do was to speak out loud exactly what the pastor on the CD was saying, word for word. The result got quite a reaction. This because the pastor on the CD was preaching in the Korean language!

This is a beautiful picture of what happens when we pray in the spirit. Your mind hears your spirit praying in a language it doesn’t recognize – the language of the spirit. It tries to mimic it with your mouth, but only ends up sounding unintelligible.

This is why what we hear coming out of someone’s mouth does not always parallel what’s said by the gift of interpretation. Your spirit might be interceding for a need, while your mouth is merely saying “Praise the Lord” over and over again in Russian.

It’s interesting to note here exactly what the gift of interpretation is as mentioned in the Bible. The word the Apostle used was a word that means to put into words. Basically this means that the message we hear by the gift of interpretation was not in words until it was interpreted. This goes right along with the truth that it’s our spirit praying and not our mouth.

This is also why the gift of tongues will cease after the resurrection. The only reason that we speak this way during the use of the gift is because our mind doesn’t grasp what’s taking place in our spirit. After the resurrection we’ll still communicate with God in the spirit, but because our mind and body will be perfected, it will not have this outward effect anymore.

Question: How have you been built up by praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2015 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk

 

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