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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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The Power of Love

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s view of the spiritual gifts.  He’s explaining them to the church in Corinth.  The apostle was trying to straighten out some of their foolishness.

For the last few posts, we saw that the Gifts of the Spirit are useless without walking in love.  That’s the most important ingredient in any ministry.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1

We’re told here, that of the three most important concepts in Scripture – faith, hope, and love – the greatest is love.  Paul then tells us to pursue love.  In order to do that effectively, we need to walk in the spiritual gifts.

It literally says to be passionate about the things of the spirit.  We should especially desire to show love by speaking a Word on behalf of God.  That’s what prophecy is.  God is love and if you speak His Word, then love will be evident.

In order to understand First Corinthians, chapter 14, we need to keep it in its context.  Paul is writing to a church where everyone’s doing their own thing.  All they care about is their own wants and desires.  Love for others doesn’t enter into their thoughts.

He wants them to use their gifts to bless others.  That’s the context of his next statement.

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.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:2-3

There are those who look at these verses, and the ones that follow, and conclude that the gift of tongues is bad and prophecy is good.  That’s not what Paul is trying to get across to this church.  That’s why I talked about the context.

The apostle wants us to see that in the church setting, love needs to be the major component.  Prayer in tongues has a definite purpose.  I use it to build myself up.  That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t directly show love to others.

So if I come to church and all I do is pray in the spirit, then I’m not loving others.  Instead, I’m being self-centric.

In the church, there needs to be an evident communication of God’s love.  Prophecy is a great gift for showing God’s love.  God’s Word can be a powerful encouragement to those around us.

In the church, I have a choice.  I can major on making sure that I’m blessed.  That’s what the Corinthian Christians were doing and Paul wasn’t happy with them.

My other option is to go to church with a desire to bless others.  Through the gift of prophecy, I can speak a word of strength, encouragement, and comfort.  I believe that’s what “being the church” is all about.

And in reality, I’ve found that when I want to bless others, God finds a way to bless me in the process.  There’s a mutual encouragement in the body of Christ.

Be passionate about spiritual gifts.  And seek to show the love of God in all that you do.

Question: How were you positively affected by someone operating in their spiritual gift?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, The Church

 

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Love and the Gifts

We’re continuing our study of love in First Corinthians, chapter 13.  Paul is now going to compare its lasting effects to that of some spiritual gifts.

Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

This is a verse that has sparked a lot of debate over the years.  There are those who point to it and say that the Gifts of the Spirit had an expiration date.  They conclude that these gifts ceased to operate after the original 12 apostles died.

I don’t think that’s what Paul is trying to say.  He’s teaching us a more excellent way of walking in the gifts.  Love is a factor that brings greater results.

He starts by saying that love never fails.  This means that the effects of love are enduring.  An act of love will continue to touch someone’s life long after the event has passed.  With that in mind, look at some of the other gifts.

Paul says that prophecies will cease.  That word, cease, means to be rendered useless or idle.  It does NOT mean that people will stop prophesying.

The prophecies themselves are only temporary.  Once they’ve been fulfilled, they have no more purpose.  That’s because a prophecy will always point to something.  And once the focus of the prophecy arrives, we begin a new chapter.

He goes on to say that tongues will be stilled.  Again, this verse does NOT say that the gift of tongues will no longer be available.  The word, stilled, means to be paused or restrained.

This tells me that the gift of tongues will be paused or put on hold.  It also means that those who operate in this gift would be physically or legalistically retrained from using it.  A look at church history will prove the truth of this interpretation.

Finally, the apostle says that knowledge will pass away.  It’s actually the same Greek word he used when he said that prophecies would cease.  It simply means that the usefulness of the knowledge given will come to an end.

Why is Paul telling us all this?  Because he wants to take our supernatural gifts to a higher level.

The Gifts of the Spirit, all by themselves, are only temporary events.  People won’t remember that I gave a prophecy on a certain date in the past.  But they will remember if the prophecy was used to show love to them.

Prophecy, tongues, and word of knowledge – they all give temporary benefits.  But if they’re used to show love to others in a tangible way, they have a lasting effect.

The Corinthian church was boasting in their ability to “flow in the anointing.”  They had all the gifts evident in their meetings.  Unfortunately, it was all for show – “Look what I can do!”

They left out the most important ingredient – love for one another.  There were factions and divisions.  The poor within their congregation was being publically shamed.  Love was noticeably absent.

We need to learn their lesson.  Having a move of God with the Gifts of the Spirit is an awesome thing.  But we can’t leave out love for our brothers and sisters.

It’s not an either/or proposition.  We need both the Gifts of the Spirit and love if we’re going to minister as Christ did.

Question: How have you experienced the Gifts of the Spirit operated in love?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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Manifesting the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

In my last post, I started looking at the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I’ve already talked about the Message of Wisdom, the Message of Knowledge, and Faith.  Now we’ll move on to the rest.

Gifts of Healing.  You may remember that a couple of posts ago, I talked about the word, gifts.  This is the Greek word, charismata.  It’s a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how it will be used.

Another interesting point about this manifestation is that the original text reads – gifts of healings.  Both words are plural.

I see an incredible word picture in this.  It’s like each of us is given a bag full of presents – healings that we’re to deliver to particular people that we’ll meet throughout our lives.  It’s up to us to stay sensitive so that we can be obedient when the Holy Spirit tells us to pray over that sick person.

Miraculous Powers.  The words used in Scripture mean the working of power.  This can be anything, other than healing, that seems to go against the natural laws.

This also includes the instances of divine favor that we experience.  People in the world will say, “Wasn’t that a great coincidence.”  No, it was the power of God at work orchestrating things on my behalf.

Prophecy.   This is when God gives you a message that He wants you to deliver for Him.  It could be a private or public message.

Many times when we hear the word, prophecy, we think future.  That’s not always the case.  God may want something said that could deal with the past, present, or future.  I think that there are times when believers are speaking prophetically and they don’t even realize it.

Distinguishing Between Spirits.  The phrase, distinguishing between, comes from a Greek word that means to make a judicial decision.  It’s this supernatural gifting that gives you the ability to know what spirit, if any, is at work in a situation.  You’ll know if the demonic forces are trying to hinder.  You’ll also know if the Holy Spirit is at work in the background.

Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues.  This is the use of your prayer language for ministry.  It could include simply praying for yourself or others.  It could also be a part of deep intercession.  It’s when you allow your spirit to pray in the will of God beyond what you know in the natural.

Interpretation of Tongues.  This is when the Holy Spirit gives you insight into what you or someone else is praying in the spirit.  It’s not quite the same as a translation.  That’s because what you’re speaking with your mouth may not be what’s being exchanged between you and the Lord in the spiritual realm.

These are the manifestations of power that the Holy Spirit wants to display through His people.  They’ll directly point to Christ as Lord.  They’ll cause people to move closer to a relationship with Him.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

I don’t believe that you can full proclaim the Gospel of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen the manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work?

© 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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