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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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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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Anointed to Teach

In my last post, I started talking about the teacher’s anointing.  What’s the purpose of a teacher in the body of Christ?  I think the answer will surprise a lot of people.

There are many who think the reason we need teachers is so that we can learn what’s in the Bible.  Actually, it seems to me that this is what most teachers are trying to do.  They believe that it’s all about getting my knowledge of the Scripture into your brain.

I’m here to tell you that this is NOT what God is calling teachers to do in His kingdom.  Yes, we are to use the Scripture, but the purpose has to be according to God’s agenda.

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life…
Proverbs 6:23

The calling of a teacher is to bring light.  Specifically, godly teaching shines a light on the way of life.  It shows how to get from where you are now, to where God wants you to be.

Scriptural teaching is never about knowledge and always about life.  You know that you’ve sat under an anointed teacher because you leave with an understanding of how to walk on a higher level with Christ.

As a matter of fact, if you look up the word “taught” in the New Testament, you’ll find out that it’s always about how to live.  They were taught how to walk as a new creature in Christ.  They were taught the walk of faith and how to love one another.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

This is the goal.  It’s the perfecting of the saints.  A teacher’s anointing brings with it a passion for the building up of the body of Christ.

As I look around the church of this generation, I see very few who operate in the teacher’s anointing.  That doesn’t mean that there are few called and anointed teachers.  The problem is that if the only examples you’ve seen are those who simply pass on Bible knowledge, then that’s the course you’ll follow.  We need teachers who are willing to spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.

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

I think that we should listen to the Apostle Paul.  After all, he did write most of the New Testament.  Where do you think he got his teaching from?

As for me, I know that I’m called as a teacher.  I also know that I’ll be judged more strictly.  I want to make sure that the message of my teaching is not simply Bible knowledge, but the true light of the Word of God for the hearers.

This should be the heart of every teacher of the Word.

Question: How do you recognize a teacher walking in his or her anointing?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2018 in Anointing, Ministry, The Church, Word of God

 

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Teachers in Church

In my last post, I mentioned that my anointing is that of a teacher in the body of Christ.  That got me thinking about our view of teaching in the church of today.  I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

I believe that a lot of problems we face are directly tied to what we’re being taught.  But let’s start at the beginning.  We really need to understand the importance of teaching from God’s perspective.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the form of the New Testament that we use now is not in the order it was given to the church.  Over the years it has been arranged by topics rather than the original order.

While that may make it easier to find certain passages, we sometimes miss out on some important warnings.  For instance, James was the first book to be written, but because it’s placed close to the end, it doesn’t get a lot of priority.

However, when it comes to teaching in the church, James should be the first book we think of.  In its pages, we find the first thing the Holy Spirit revealed about teachers in the body of Christ.  What do you think that is?

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

Please pay careful attention to the voice of the Spirit.  The first thing He wants you to know about the ministry of a teacher is – that position comes with a stricter judgment.

That’s because the place of a teacher is much more important than most people realize.  Yet in our present church culture, we’ll let anyone teach.  We need so many for Sunday School, Children’s Church, Teens, and Adult classes.

“Everything you need has already been done.  All you have to do is to study the lesson plan at home, and talk about it in class.”

I’m sorry if I’m stereotyping, but here’s what I observe in our present church ministries.  Most teaching is simply passing on what we’ve read or heard from someone else.  We use books, sermons, online tools, and lessons that give us the messages that we, in turn, pass on to those we’re teaching.

That was actually the state of teaching in Israel when Christ came on the scene.  He had a different method.  The Lord only taught those things that He heard from the Father.  What was the response?

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

The difference was obvious.  He wasn’t simply parroting what someone else was teaching.  He was bringing them a Word from the Father.

That’s where we need to get to in the church today.  We must raise up teachers who walk in the anointing the Holy Spirit.

In my next post, I’ll continue with this important truth.

Question: How should the warning of James work in the life of modern teachers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Anointing, Leadership, Ministry, Word of God

 

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A Teaching Testimonial

As we come near the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to give some short exhortations.  I find this next one to be of particular importance.

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Galatians 6:6

I’m obviously partial to this one because I’m an instructor in the Word of God.  Many times teachers never find out the effects that they have on someone’s life.

That’s because teaching is a cumulative process.  Changes in those being instructed don’t happen overnight.  Each new concept received, brings a tiny step forward.

Over time, these little pieces add up to a life that’s been brought to a new place in Christ.  That’s why we need to periodically take stock of where we are in our Christian walk.  Then, when we see where we are in our progress, we take note of where we learned these things from.

This verse tells us to communicate the good things we see in our lives with the ones who instructed us.  In that way, the teachers will be encouraged that their work was not in vain.

I remember my Sunday School teachers from when I was young.  One of them, Brother Jerry Citro, had a great impact upon my life.

I had just “graduated” into the Junior High Boys’ class.  We were a group known for always clowning around.  But Bro. Jerry loved us and worked with us.

One Sunday morning, he made an announcement to the class.  He told us that for the next few weeks, he wouldn’t be teaching us.  Instead, we would each take a turn teaching to our peers.  It should go without saying that this got quite a negative reaction from the class, but that’s the way it would be.

For the next few weeks, the class was pretty boring, to say the least.  The students either didn’t remember that it was their turn, or didn’t care.  I remember sitting in class listening to students reading the workbook to us.

Then it came to my turn.  I made a decision that I didn’t want to look foolish by not preparing anything.  So at some point during the week I read the lesson and wrote down some notes.  I also prayed for God’s help, since I had never done anything like this before.

That’s when it happened.  I got up in front of the class to teach.  My stomach was in knots.  But at least I had prepared something.

I don’t remember anything I said or taught that day.  I do remember that Bro. Jerry had a big smile as he thanked me for teaching at the end of the class.  I also remember that a couple of my friends came to me afterward and told me how much they enjoyed my talk.

As I look back on this experience, I realize it was that day when I first had the thought that maybe God wants me to teach.  If Bro Jerry had not made us participate, would I even have made it to where I am today?

Brother Jerry has since gone on to his reward in Heaven.  I have no doubt that he heard the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But there’s something that brings me joy in all of this.  That’s the fact that on more than one occasion, I was able to communicate to him just how big a role he played in my ministry.  Every life I affected with the Word of God can be traced back to his faithfulness.

We need to be aware of the “Brother Jerry’s” in our lives.  I’ve had many more teachers that changed my life.  All of them should be thanked and made to understand their effect on us.  Don’t neglect this vital part of receiving God’s Word.

Question: Who are the teachers that have affected your life the most?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Faith and Opinions

We all have our opinions about things. But are there some times that we should keep our opinions to ourselves?

I’ve been posting from the book of James. He’s been telling us that our speaking and actions need to line up with our faith. Further; that faith must be born of the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

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

Sometimes the placement of the chapters and verses in the Bible cause us to miss important truths. This is one of those places. Because this is the start of a new chapter, we think it starts a new thought. It doesn’t.

James is still talking about our speaking that must line up with what the Holy Spirit speaks. The original Greek of this passage says that not many should make themselves to be teachers. It’s talking about when I presume that you need me to give you my opinion about the way things are.

This verse gives us the reason why we have to be very careful in how we give out our opinions. We need to ask ourselves if our opinions line up with the Holy Spirit’s opinion. Because His is the only one that matters. We are going to be judged on what we instruct others to do.

Jesus explained this very concept to His disciples when preparing them for His death.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
John 14:25-26

Jesus explains to the disciples that the Holy Spirit will do two things – teach them and remind them. I want to deal with the teaching aspect of the Spirit. Jesus said that He will teach you everything.

That’s especially important for someone like me to understand. God has called me to be a teacher in the body of Christ. That means that my attitude must be pure before God. I’m teaching, but my hope is that at the same time the Holy Spirit is teaching you.

The problem is that some people prepare as if it’s them doing the teaching. That’s not the way it should be.

I know from the comments that I get from people, that I’m a good teacher. It’s a gift that God has given me. I’ve used this gift in the past to teach math, physics, hiking, and a number of other things.

But when it comes to teaching others how to live for Christ, I don’t want to be the one teaching you. I might be the one doing the talking or writing, but I want the Holy Spirit to do the teaching.

When I was young in the ministry, there was a prayer that I always prayed just before I got up to speak. I still do it from time to time, but I presume that the Holy Spirit knows that it’s always my desire. The prayer is, “Lord help me to remember what you want me to remember, and to forget what you want me to forget.”

You don’t know how freeing this is to me. There have been many times that I’ve forgotten things that I’ve wanted to share in my preaching. Later on I remember, but it doesn’t trouble me at all, because I know that it was the Holy Spirit that didn’t want it shared.

Other times I think of things, while I’m preaching, that I never prepared to say. I believe that it was God reminding me something He wanted said. Very often, that was the part of the message that touched people the most.

The truth is that if I take on the exclusive role as teacher, then the burden of responsibility is on me. I don’t want to be judged that strictly. I’m much more comfortable with the role of assistant teacher to the Holy Spirit.

Question: How do people use their opinions to teach others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Holy Spirit – Our Teacher

ClassIn my last post I started looking at some things about the Holy Spirit in us. I believe that we need to deepen our relationship with Him. There’s a purpose for this.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
John 14:25-26

This statement shows us two of the works that the Holy Spirit wants to perform in us. The first is that He will teach us all things. But His teaching is different than what we normally think of when using that word.

The root of this word teach is learn. This is different than just a lecture. Even though I attend a class, I may or may not learn anything.

What this verse implies is that the Holy Spirit will cause you to learn. There are lessons He wants to get across to you. The fact is, you will learn them – the easy way or the hard way. The Spirit will bring you the lesson in such a way as to make it impossible to ignore.

The second role of the Holy Spirit mentioned here is that of reminding you of the words of Christ. It literally says that He will quietly remind you, or suggest. I believe that this refers to whatever Christ is trying to get across to you at the time.

The Spirit doesn’t come in like a bull in a china shop. He doesn’t disrupt our lives and demand our attention. That’s probably why we miss His voice on occasion.

Our goal should be to recognize that voice when He speaks to us. Elijah learned this lesson.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
1 Kings 19:11-13

The Holy Spirit is sent to come alongside us. He wants to teach us and to gently persuade us. That’s what makes it so hard to hear Him sometimes. He doesn’t barge into our lives – He waits for us to listen. That’s why it’s so important to cultivate our relationship with Him. Time spent in the Spirit is never wasted.

Give the Holy Spirit the time He needs to come alongside you, to teach, remind, and suggest what needs to be done in your life.

Question: What have you learned from your time spent with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2015 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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