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Unity and the Spirit

A lot of people talk about the need for unity in the church.  Do we fully understand what that means, or what it takes to walk in unity?  I think that the answer will surprise you.

We’re continuing our look at the way Paul describes spiritual ministry in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12

At this point, Paul continues a theme that was started in this letter.  I’m talking about the body of Christ.

This subject started in chapter 6 where they were told that their body was a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Then, in chapter 10, we’re told that when we break bread together in the Lord’s Supper it’s a participation in the Lord’s body.

The Apostle is now giving more insight into this truth.  He begins at a place we can all understand – the natural.  A human body is one entity.

However, you can also view the body as a collection of individual parts.  Even though these many parts all have different functions, they form one whole organism.

All the members of the body together form a unit.  A unit is the foundation for unity.  All the individual parts of the body work together to carry out the will of the mind.

But in all of this, the most important thing to grasp is Paul’s final statement.  So it is with Christ.

He did not say, “So it is with the church.”  It’s vital for us to see that He’s talking about God and not us.  It’s not our body that the Lord becomes a part of.  We participate with Him.  We must become a part of His body.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:13

I believe that this is a key Scripture in understanding unity in the church.  Yet, there are many who never give it much notice.

Part of the problem is in the translation.  The phrase, baptized by, is actually baptized in according to the original Greek text.  So this verse tells us that when we’re baptized in the Spirit, we’re also baptized into the body of Christ.

Throughout Scripture, we’re told that unity is a function of the spirit.  When you think about it, there’s no body-life without unity.

I look at how my own body operates in the natural.  If each member of my body was autonomous, I’d be in trouble.  I couldn’t live normally if each part acted independently regardless of what my brain wanted to be done.

In many cases that’s what the church is like.  We don’t spend the time needed to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Then we go off and do what we feel like doing for God.  And we call that the body of Christ.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

Unity requires effort.  It requires me to hear and obey God’s Spirit within me.  Only when we all synchronize ourselves to the will of the Spirit are we truly acting as the body of Christ.

Question: What’s the difference between unity and agreement?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on June 21, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The Voice of the Spirit

As we continue through Mark’s Gospel, it’s now the day of the Last Supper.  The disciples have no idea what’s about to take place during this feast.  All they know is that the Passover needs to be celebrated.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready.  Make preparations for us there.”
Mark 14:12-15

To understand the importance of this passage, you must first understand the relationship between Christ and His disciples.  At that time, the role of Jesus to His disciples was the same as the Holy Spirit is to us today.

Remember that Jesus told His followers that He would send another Counsellor to lead and guide them.  The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the same way that the Lord led His disciples.  That’s why it’s so important for us to develop sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit.

It’s sad that so many Christians think that God no longer works in this way.  I personally believe that the Holy Spirit still desires to operate through the church.  It’s the manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit that will draw unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ.

In this instance, Jesus is functioning in the gifts of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge.  Notice how specific His instructions are.  I believe that the Holy Spirit will be just that detailed with us if we’ll place ourselves in a position to hear Him.

What was the response of the disciples to this astounding instruction?

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them.  So they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:16

This simple statement shows the trust that had developed between Christ and His followers.  There was no question or hesitation.  They just went and did exactly as they were told.

So often we find two different extremes in the body of Christ these days.  The first is that some Christians come up with elaborate stories of what the Holy Spirit “told” them.  Then, a few days later the “spirit” tells them something that sounds just the opposite.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people who feel impressed to do or say something.  They don’t follow through on it.  Then, when it’s too late, they realize that they’d heard from the Holy Spirit and missed the opportunity for a blessing.  (I’ve been guilty of this more than once.)

We need to spend quality time in the spirit.  That’s where trust and sensitivity are developed.  I believe that’s why the disciples had an easier time hearing from the Spirit once Christ had ascended.  They simply transferred their focus to the voice of the Spirit.

Spend the time necessary to learn to hear and obey the Spirit.  I believe that’s where the Lord is leading His church in this generation.  It’s through hearing and obeying that we’ll see the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What can you do to develop a listening ear in the spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Good Advice?

“Stick to what you’re working at.  Concentrate on what you’re doing.  Don’t get side-tracked.”

That sounds like good advice.  And it is…most of the time.  However, we have to come to the realization that good advice doesn’t always line up with the will of God for you.  And, God’s will doesn’t always sound like good advice.

That’s what happened from time to time in the ministry of Jesus.  I’m talking about an incident that took place when He got off a boat near the Sea of Galilee one day.  You can find it in Mark 5:21-43.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.
Mark 5:21-24

At this point in His ministry, the Lord was gathering crowds wherever He went.  Today was no exception.  But these were not simply people who were following Him.  They were expecting something from Him.  They wanted Jesus to heal them or set them free from demonic oppression.

I don’t know how I would have been able to handle it.  Crowds of people suddenly running up to me, screaming for my immediate attention.  Yet Christ was able to keep His composure through all of it.

All at once, the sea of people parted.  Someone who was well-known and respected by the community was coming forward.  The elder in charge of their local synagogue was in desperate need of a healing for his daughter.

Jesus agrees to go with him and they start heading in that direction.  Then, as they’re proceeding, an interruption takes place.  People are pressing in all around Him, yet the Lord stops and looks around.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
Mark 5:30

“Wait a minute, Jesus.  Let’s do one thing at a time.  There’s someplace else we need to be.”

That might have been my thought when this happened.  But then, I would have been out of the will of God.  There was a bigger purpose than I could see.

The reason that Jesus could go through situations like this, unflustered, was because of His intimacy with the Father.  Time spent in God’s presence allowed Him to have a great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

That might be one of the reasons why we get ourselves into trouble when unexpected things pop up.  We react with the best of our understanding.  Many times it’s our limited knowledge that fouls things up.

The Lord could hear and obey the voice of the Spirit, even in a stressful situation.  He could know which requests to accept, and which to ignore.  This was true even when from the outside it looked like the wrong plan of action.

We know, from the end of this passage, that Jesus was proven right by His decisions.  He remained in God’s will through the whole encounter.  We need to cultivate this same intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  I believe it will help us to see God’s plan unfold on a daily basis.

I will probably be talking about this passage over the next few posts.  There are some good lessons that we can glean from it.

Question: How do you cultivate personal intimacy with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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Spiritual Sensitivity

TrailHow sensitive are you to the things of the spirit? Do you take the time to hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you? God’s people should be in tune to what the Lord is accomplishing on the earth.

This is how Paul described it.

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

I know that I’ve mentioned my hiking from time to time in this blog. As a matter of fact, in a few days I’m leaving on a two week long “hiking and prayer” trip. I’m looking forward to a good time in the Spirit.

I find it enjoyable talking to non-hikers about my backpacking trips. I love their reactions to some of my statements.

“How can you sleep all night in a shelter with only three sides?” “What do you eat?” “Where do you find a bathroom?”

I think that it shocks some people to learn that it’s possible to live without all the trappings of society. The thought of spending one night without TV or the internet is frightening. They don’t even want to think about the fact that running water isn’t necessary to survival.

Unless you’ve experienced the freedom of the wild, the ecstasy of a mountaintop, or the tranquility of a hidden lake there’s no understanding what I find.

It’s the same in the spirit. Unless you’ve experienced the wisdom, peace, and power of a relationship with the Holy Spirit, you have no clue how important it is. The thought of spending time in prayer is foolishness to those who ignore it.

That’s what Paul is talking about in the verse above. The phrase man without the spirit is actually the soulish man in the Greek. He’s not talking about an unsaved person. Rather, it’s the Christian who lives by what sounds logical to him. He gives no thought to the Spirit.

Unfortunately there are many believers who live this way. They read the Bible, go to church, and then do their best to figure out what they should be doing for the Lord. What they don’t realize is there are some things in their Christian walk that they can never figure out on their own.

They need to be hearing from the Holy Spirit. There are some things God has for us that can only be received by the spirit. But in order for that to happen there needs to be some quiet, alone time with the Holy Spirit.

There are some who can’t imagine spending time in the presence of God. But until you experience it for yourself, you’ll never fully understand the blessing. All of my descriptions fall short of the reality of time spent in the Spirit.

Walk in that blessed experience today. Spend time in the presence of the Lord. Let His Spirit minister to yours. Come away refreshed and revived. Let your soul be reminded why it’s so important to obtain what can only come from the Spirit.

Question: How has your life been touched and changed by time spent with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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The Spirit and the Bride

 

DoveIn my last post I showed that not all believers are residents of the New Jerusalem, and therefore, are not part of the Bride of Christ. The understanding of all this is found in the characteristics of the Bride.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17

This verse shows us the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ. The first thing I notice is that the Bride is listening to the voice of the Spirit. Do all Christians listen to the Spirit of God? Absolutely not. But the Bride hears the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And more than that, the Bride speaks what the Holy Spirit is speaking. What I find amazing is that there’s no lag time. Their words are totally in sync with each other.

When the Spirit says, “Come,” the Bride is proclaiming the exact same thing. There’s a connection between the Spirit and the Bride.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:18

Let’s talk for a moment about our spiritual birth. We know that we were given birth – born again – by the Word of God. Christ, Himself, is the Living Word. Obviously He’s the Father. But for a birth to occur there has to be a mother. Spiritually speaking, who’s our mother?

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about the difference between self-righteousness and the salvation of God. As he explains this, he makes a surprising statement.

But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
Galatians 4:26

I’ll try to not be too graphic. We were given birth by the seed of the Word, planted in the Bride. These two must be combined for a birth to take place. The Spirit is calling, “Come!” The Bride is calling, “Come!” We have been given birth by the Holy Spirit and the Word operating through the Bride.

The Bride is made up of the overcomers in Christ. It’s the Bride that’s manifesting the Kingdom of God. That should make it abundantly clear to us that it’s the Bride that’s producing the fruit of the Kingdom. If you’re saved, it’s because the Bride of Christ declared the Word of God to you. That’s how you entered the Kingdom.

Then the choice is up to you. You can join the Bride or remain one of the attendants. But there’s one more characteristic of the Bride that’s important to us.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7

The Bride prepares herself for the wedding day. Why? Because it’s important to her. She wants to give herself to the Groom. She wants to be pleasing to her husband. So she dresses up in the finest clothing available to her.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Revelation 19:8

It’s not her clothing. She could never present herself to her husband dressed in the filthy rags of her own righteousness. This wedding gown had to be given to her. It was a work of God. The bottom line is that even though she was given this treasure – she had to prepare herself by putting it on.

Question: What does it take for the church to make herself ready?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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Fasting and Victory over the Flesh #spiritualfast

TrophyI’m posting about how fasting will revolutionize your spiritual walk.  The disciples had tried, and failed, to cast a demon out of a young man.  After Jesus was able to do it, the disciples asked Him privately why they were unable to.

So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.  However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”
Matthew 17:20-21, NKJV

The disciples’ problem was unbelief.  Jesus explains to them that faith as small as a mustard seed, working all by itself, can move a mountain.  Nothing would be impossible for us if faith was the only issue.

If it were only about faith, then America should have the most miracles of any country on earth.  We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  In America we have access to more of the Word than in any other country.

The problem is that we have unbelief alongside of that faith.  The U.S. is also one of the most flesh-driven countries on earth.  Just driving down the street I can see a billboard that feeds my flesh.  Standing in a checkout counter, listening to the news on the radio, almost everything I do causes me to access food for my flesh.  Even though I try to filter it by “taking every thought captive,” some of this trash still gets through.

So the stronger my spirit is built up on the Word of God, the more my flesh is built up just by living in this society.  It’s the presence of these two powerful forces in my life, faith and unbelief, side-by-side, that’s watering down my spiritual strength.  What can I do about it?

Again, the key is the statement made by the boy’s father.  We have plenty of faith, but how do we overcome our unbelief?  There is a solution.  Jesus tells the disciples, “This kind only goes out by prayer and fasting.”

The question is, this kind of what?  Most people say He was talking about the demon.  I don’t believe it.  A demon couldn’t care less whether you’ve fasted or not.  Look at the emphasis of the verse.  It’s the disciples who were talking about the demon.

Jesus never once mentioned the demon.  He spent the whole time talking about the problem – unbelief.  What Jesus wants you to get rid of is unbelief.  It’s this kind of unbelief that blocks the working of your faith to the point where nothing happens, even though you believe the Word of God.

Where does fasting come into the picture?  Fasting is a way to forcefully and supernaturally put down your flesh.  You’re telling it, “I don’t care what you say – I’m not listening to you today.”

When you fast, it’s as if you’re turning down the volume control to the voice of your flesh.  This allows the faith that you have to effectively become stronger.  Without the voice of your flesh talking so loud, you will be better able to hear the voice of the Lord speaking to your spirit.

Question: How well do you hear from God presently?  Would you like to increase your spiritual sensitivity?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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