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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

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The Great Deception

TrophyIn my last post I talked about Paul’s rebuke of the Christians who live as enemies of the cross. There are many who replace Christ with worldly pursuits. I’ve heard a lot of holy sounding excuses.

“We need to be a witness to the world.”

“God understands that I need to do this.”

“I’ve been faithful for months. I can take a week off.”

Here’s the problem. We’ve begun to believe a lie. It sounds so good that even preachers will quote it. But, it’s destroying God’s people. What is this great deception?

“Jesus Christ needs to have first place in your life.”

It sounds so pure and holy, but it has the potential to destroy your walk with the Lord. Why is this the case? Because Jesus never wanted to be first in your life. It’s abundantly clear from the Scripture – Christ wants to be the only thing your life revolves around.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:7-8

If Christ is in first place, then we can have a close second and feel good about it.

“I go to church most Sundays. I only missed one week this month. Of course Christ has first place over the amusement park.”

We need to get back to the pattern. That’s what will change our lives, and the world around us. This is what we were saved for. Not a one-time encounter with Christ, but an ongoing relationship of renewal and transformation.

In order to live this way we must move on into the walk of victory that Christ has destined us for. This will require us to get a new revelation of the cross of Christ.

First we must get over our fear of the cross. For too long God’s people have backed off from it because it sounds uncomfortable. It’s always been this way. Even from the first time Jesus mentioned it to His disciples. At one point the Lord described what He was going to do on the cross and Peter openly rebuked Him.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Matthew 16:23

Very few people understand the cross. The enemy’s kingdom didn’t. Neither did the disciples. But we see here that the very notion of rejecting the cross was offensive to Christ. Peter had no idea the significance of what would happen there. So at this point in time, Peter was an adversary of the cross. It’s the same place we find ourselves so often. Not enemies of Christ, but of His cross.

Even back then, the Lord didn’t let it end there. He went on with His teaching.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Matthew 16:24-25

Christ tells His disciples, and us as well, that if we want to walk in step behind Him, then we need to go where He’s going. We have to be on the same path He’s taking. That means that we must deny ourselves – literally to contradict ourselves – in order to follow Him. That tells me that I must go in a direction that’s opposite of what I think is the logical course for my life.

Question: What does embracing the cross mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Service or Control? #calling

DifferentIn my last post I talked about how we advance in the Kingdom of God.

In the world you set a goal.  You say, “I’m going to be a brain surgeon.”  Then, off you go to school and someday, after years of study and training, you graduate as a brain surgeon.  That’s not how it is in the Kingdom of God.

Before I was born, God said, “I see a day when Nick Zaccardi is going to be born, and I have a place in My kingdom for him, and this is it.”  I then spend my lifetime attaining to the position that God has already prepared for me before the foundation of the world.

Eventually, depending on how well I listen to Him and my obedience level, I may or may not get to that calling.  But the main point for us to see is that it’s not up to me to decide what I want that calling to be.

That’s what the Lord was telling the disciples min the verse we looked at in the last post.  Don’t try to advance yourself in the Kingdom of God by using the world’s methods. But the problem didn’t end there.

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:24-28

To operate in the way of the world, you’re going to have to step over everyone in your path in order to get to the top.  Then, once you get there, you start to boss everyone around because they’re all under you.

Jesus made it clear that we don’t act this way in the church.  In His kingdom, He has a place prepared for everybody.  You need to seek the place God has chosen for you from before the foundation of the world.

As you enter into your assignment, you’ll find that it will be a place of service.  It’s not going to be a place of authority in the sense that the world looks at authority.  So don’t come at the Kingdom of God from a worldly perspective.  In Christ we find fulfillment through service.

It’s clear, however, that the disciples believed that Christ’s kingdom was coming.  The disciples had faith in that concept to the point that in their own fleshly way they were starting to jockey for position.  I pray that we would have as much faith in the words of Christ as they did.  It’s my prayer that God’s people will be found ready for Him on His return.

We must begin to prepare now for the coming kingdom.  God’s Word is clear.  Our rewards will be based upon our obedience.  How closely are you following the Lord’s plan for your life?

Knowledge of the Second Coming of Christ should drive you to serve Him with all your ability.  Don’t rest until you know that you are in the center of His will for your life.

Question: What will it take to reach the next step in your calling?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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