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The Holy Spirit and Fire

The Holy Spirit and Fire

We’re continuing in our study through Luke’s Gospel. The Lord is teaching about the future ministry of His disciples and the church. At that point, the disciples probably didn’t understand most of what Christ was saying. But, looking back, we can take it to heart.

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!”

Luke 12:49-50 NIV

The Lord begins to talk about the results of His ministry on the earth. There’s a fire He wants to start, but He has to undergo His immersion first. Jesus is talking about His death, burial, and resurrection.

The fire is to be an important part of what He starts at His resurrection. He mentioned it at another place in His ministry.

Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Mark 9:49-50 NIV

In this section, the Lord is not talking about us being the salt of the earth. He’s speaking about the salt of fire being placed within us. I believe that He’s talking about the Holy Spirit, who we receive when we become a Christian.

Throughout the Bible, God is referred to as a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Elsewhere, we’re told not to put out the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It’s through this purifying work of the Holy Spirit that we’re made clean before God.

There is a consequence of this, however. Not everybody wants to be changed by the Spirit of God. There are those who will refuse to accept this free gift of salvation.

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:51-53 NIV

Peace is a big subject when you talk about Christ. At Christmas time we sing about “Peace on Earth.” That’s what Christ is talking about here, but that won’t come about until His return. At that time the Lord will reign over the earth and there will be peace.

Until then, the earth will be in turmoil. Part of that will be the tension between darkness and light. The kingdom of God vs the enemy’s rule on earth. Many times this war will erupt right inside our homes. This happens when some family members are Christians and some are not.

We experience this on many occasions. We need to be going to the Lord to receive grace to win over our families. Sometimes that’s the hardest place to minister. I’ve heard so many stories where a family member comes to Christ through a friend, even though they had rejected that same witness from their family.

But there’s another peace that’s available to us, as believers. That’s God’s peace. It’s the peace that should be active in His people. Jesus said that He was going to give it to us (John 14:27).

I believe this is the peace that Jesus was referring to in the verse in Mark, above. If we let God salt us with His purifying fire, then we’ll be clean from all the things that cause conflict. By submitting to the Holy Spirit’s work, the church can be a place that shows forth the peace of God. This should be an example to the world around us.

Of course, we want our loved ones to enter into this peace. We need to be praying for them. And praying for the grace to reach them.

But, if we find that they refuse to listen to our testimony, there’s another prayer that we must use. We should be praying that God would send someone to them that they will listen to. We can’t be so stubborn to think that we’re the only person God will use to reach them. Pray for a Christian friend to bring the Word they need to hear.

Question: Who are you praying for to receive the Gospel of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Final Exam

As we continue to go through our study of First Corinthians, Paul is explaining to the church about the importance of God’s calling.  The Lord’s work is different in each of us.  He deals with us all as individuals.

Our rewards are based upon what we’ve done.  My work isn’t compared to yours.  It’s judged against what God’s plan for my life required.

God desires to continually bring about changes in us to get us to where we need to be.  As I submit to these changes, I fulfill more of my calling.

But what happens if I don’t allow God to continue with His plan to renew my life?  Paul gives us some insight into the question.  In the letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is addressing a group of mostly baby Christians.  According to the Apostle, they’re not babies because they lack experience, but because they chose not to grow up.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

When we were initially saved we were placed onto the foundation of Christ.  It’s afterward that the building program begins.  We have the choice to build for ourselves – wood, hay, and straw.

Think about it in the natural.  All over the world wood, hay, and straw are normal building materials.  They’re used because they’re readily available and easy to build with.

It’s a lot more difficult to build with gold, silver or costly stones.  They speak of what’s built by the spirit.  If we submit to the will of God for our lives, then we’ll see a beautiful structure arise.  Not only that, but it will be beyond our expectations for what we could have ever accomplished on our own.

The good news is that we’re told how it will all turn out.  We’re not in the dark.  We know what we’ll be judged on.  The test is fire.

You can build some elaborate and beautiful houses with wood, hay, and straw.  I’ve seen some grandiose mansions around the country.  Here’s the problem, they’re not going to be judged on how high they were built or how ornate they are.  They’re going to be doused with gasoline and lit up.

Think about what’s important to you right now.  The test is not how high you climbed up the corporate ladder.  It’s not how much money you accumulated.  It’s not even about how many good deeds you did or how many friends you have on Facebook.

The judgment will be based upon how close you stuck to the plan of God for your life.  Did you allow the Holy Spirit to work His changes in you?  The final exam is how close your life came to God’s will for you.

That’s what will matter the most to you in the end.

Question: How high on your priority list is knowing and accomplishing God’s will for your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Well Pleasing Sacrifice

FireIn my last post I talked about having a faith that’s well pleasing to God. Today I want to continue in that theme of pleasing God.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

This is one of those verses that we wished wasn’t in the Bible. But it is, so we have to follow it. It says that there’s something we can do that’s holy and well pleasing to God.

The word offer means to stand beside your body. Paul is talking about something that can only be done in the spirit.

The original Greek says that it’s a burnt offering, living, holy, and to God – well pleasing. Wait a minute; we are to be a living burnt offering? There’s really no other way to say it.

Pleasing God requires sacrifice. But what exactly does that mean to us? Most people use the word sacrifice to mean they’ll try harder. They think it tells them to fast on holidays, eat according to the Old Testament food laws, dress like the 1940’s, and talk King James English.

That’s not what God is looking for. If you read the epistle to the Romans, you find that Paul writes about the walk of the spirit. If that’s in place, then you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. How do we get there?

We need the fire of God to consume the sacrifice. In the book of Acts we see tongues of fire on the heads of those praying in the upper room. We are also told (I Thessalonians 5:19) not to quench the Holy Spirit’s fire. Paul told his spiritual son, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift that was within him (II Timothy 1:6).

Paul was a man who had a rich experience of prayer in the spirit. He assumed that those he was writing to also knew how to pray in the spirit. When you pray in the spirit, you’re standing beside your body as a burnt offering.

The last part of the verse in Romans could be modernized as, logically – this is what you signed up for. We are living out a spiritual walk. You can try harder, stumbling around in the flesh without Christ. But if I’m to be well pleasing, it will require a spiritual work.

My last post talked about our faith being tested and approved – that’s the fire. As I pray in the spirit, I stand beside the burnt offering.

Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re saved, or even acceptable to God. You’re all those things, and more, in Christ. I’m talking about going beyond acceptable and into the realm of well-pleasing to God.

This should be our desire if we want to see a move of God in our lifetime.

Question: Why do some believers find this sacrifice so difficult?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
 

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Thanksgiving Bread – The Spirit and the Word #thanksgiving

BreadUnder the Old Testament law, many different types of offerings were to be presented to God.  Some were called Fellowship Offerings because they were given simply out of love for God.  An offering of thanksgiving was one of these Fellowship Offerings.

If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil.  Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast.
Leviticus 7:12-13

There are four different kinds of bread that were associated with this offering.  The common elements in all of them are flour and oil.  I believe that they correspond to the word and the spirit.  This is central to thanksgiving since everything I receive from God is through the Word and by His Spirit.

The first bread is cakes of bread without yeast and mixed with oil.  The term “unleavened” comes from a root which means to greedily devour because it is sweet.  It was made with flour mixed with oil.  To make these today, we would use shortening or butter.  They would be more like shortbread or butter cookies.

Sometimes the word is sweet to me.  I devour it greedily.  It satisfies my inner longing and refreshes my spirit.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that lifts me up.

The next bread is the wafer – literally, a matzah.  This matzah cracker was to be anointed with oil.  The matzah is very dry and pierced at regular intervals throughout the cracker.

Sometimes the Word pierces me, like a sword.  It’s in times like this that God is doing surgery on me.  The Bible teaches that faithful are the wounds of a friend.  I need it because this is the place of the anointing.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that corrects me.

Another bread is made with fine flour and cooked in oil.  Fine flour is like our bakery flour.  When we cook something in oil, we call it deep fried – like fried dough or donuts.

This one is brought about in the heat of the spirit.  It takes the fire of the Holy Spirit, heating up the Word to produce change in my life.  A prophet said to God that Your Word is like a fire in my bones.  This fire pushes you to action.  Christ has said that He wants you either cold or hot.  Lukewarm just won’t cut it.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that fires me up to action for the Lord.

The last bread of the thanksgiving offering is made with yeast.  Yeast usually speaks of our imperfections.  It amazes me that God will entrust His divine Word to imperfect humans.  The Lord gives me a word to share with others.  If I were God…it would never happen.

But He knows best.  He gives us a word to share, even in our humanity.  This is something that my imperfect life can give to others.  I’m thankful that Christ lets us represent Him by His Spirit.

Thank God.

Question: What are you thankful to God for at this moment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Encouragement, God's Provision, Word of God

 

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The Last Days – The Days of Lot #returnofChrist

Fire DangerI’m posting about Christ’s teaching on the Last Days in Luke, chapter 17.  After talking about the days of Noah, the Lord goes on to describe the days of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

“It was the same in the days of Lot.  People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building.  But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”
Luke 17:28-29

This event is recorded in Genesis 19.  You can read through that chapter to get the whole story.

Two angels arrived in Sodom to visit Lot.  Lot invited them into his home, knowing who they were.

When the men of the city heard that travelers were in Lot’s house, they demanded that Lot turn them over to the crowd.  According to the Bible, they wanted to rape these angels.  Lot then tried to reason with the men of the city but they wouldn’t listen.

You probably know what happens in the city of Sodom.  The two guests, who happen to be angels, come to Lot’s defense.  They bar the way into Lot’s house and bring blindness upon all the men of the city who are trying to get in.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry!  Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them.  As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives!  Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain!  Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
Genesis 19:15-17

With the coming of the dawn – THE DAY – judgment came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.  Once Lot and his family were out of sight of the city it was all over.  The day that Lot left the city was the day that judgment fell.  Now bear in mind that the inhabitants of those cities had some warning.  Lot spent the whole day before trying to convince them.

The angels told Lot that if he had any loved ones in the city he should go and warn them.  The Bible says that he went to his sons-in-law and they laughed at him.  The city was warned.  But because Lot wasn’t as in tune to the Lord as Noah, they didn’t have as much time to prepare.  In both Noah’s day and in Lot’s the people ignored the warning.

Now I’ll ask the same questions I asked in my last post.  When it was all said and done, who was left?  According to Scripture it was Lot.  Who was taken?  Again, according to Scripture, it was the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Twice in the verses from Genesis 19:15-17 the angels said that the inhabitants would be “swept away.”  That concept is very important.

We need to understand what will happen when Christ reveals Himself at His return.  In my next post we’ll look at how Christ summarized His teaching on this future event.

Question: How does this knowledge affect how we live for Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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