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Monthly Archives: September 2013

The Foundation for Fasting #spiritualfast

BibleI am posting about the New Testament fast.  I believe that it can revolutionize your walk with the Lord.

Did you ever feel like your spiritual breakthrough was right there?  You could almost taste it.  You have the faith, but you just couldn’t cross over to the promise before you.

Hopefully, that will no longer be the case.  No, you don’t have to fast to be saved.  However, if your desire is to walk in the fullness of the salvation that the Lord has provided for you, then fasting is one of the tools available to propel you forward.

Fasting is something that should be a normal part of your walk with the Lord.  As a matter of fact, no one should even be aware of your doing it.

When the Lord spoke of washing your face and putting oil on your head he was referring to the normal grooming that most people of His culture did each day.  In other words, go through your day in the normal routine, only without eating.  That is the impact of what Jesus was teaching in the verses we looked at in my last post (Matthew 6:16-18).

On the other hand, I have seen people get religious about this point.  They lock themselves in their room for the day.  It’s not a sin for people to know that you’re fasting.

My regular fasting day is Tuesday.  It would be impossible for me to hide this from my wife and children.  What I’m not to do is use fasting as a way to make myself look good in the eyes of others.  I simply go through the day normally – only without eating.

The big question is – why does the Lord want us to fast?

To understand fasting, we must look at an incident that occurred in Jesus’ ministry.  This happened immediately after the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain.  I will look at it in detail in my next post.  By understanding this event, we will see why the supernatural is so difficult to enter into in the United States.

The first thing I need to understand is who I am as a person.  I’m a multi-part being.  I exist as body (flesh), soul (mind), and spirit.

My spirit is the part of my being that communes with God.  My spirit believes everything in the Word of God.  It agrees, without reservation, to every word spoken by the Lord.

My flesh, on the other hand, is the part that I inherited from my ancestor, Adam.  It rejects and doubts whatever God says.  The tension between the flesh and the spirit has created a war that’s constantly waging within me.

The third aspect, my mind, is the part of me that’s in control and has to sort it all out.  This will be the case until we receive our resurrected body from the Lord.  So we better know the scriptural way to handle it.

In my next post we’ll see what Jesus says the problem is.

Questions: Have you been trust God for a spiritual breakthrough?  How close is it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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When Fasting Changed #spiritualfast

Fine DiningI’m taking a few posts to talk about fasting.  I believe that fasting is one of the most neglected sources of spiritual power in the Christian walk.

In my last post I said that the New Testament fast is totally different than that of the old.  I base this upon the words of Jesus Himself when He was questioned about fasting by the disciples of John the Baptist.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Matthew 9:14-15

When asked why He didn’t make His disciples fast, Jesus replied that they were not going to mourn while He was here with them.  The Old Testament fast was a humbling process before God for the forgiveness of sin.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was the fulfillment of this.  Humiliation for sin was finished – God’s provision had arrived.

The Lord then goes on to talk about the “new patch” and the “new wineskins” in the next verses (v16-17).  Most Christians have no idea that Jesus was talking about fasting when He gave these illustrations.

It’s obvious to me that the Lord didn’t want the disciples to get confused.  This would have happened if He made them fast according to Old Testament tradition, and then later on tried to teach them the New Covenant fast.  He must have felt it was better to start them off correctly right from the beginning.

That’s also why I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the Old Testament fast.  Under the law, fasting was a whole different thing than in the New Testament church.  Unfortunately, many Christians have no idea what the fast is all about now.  It’s my prayer that you will by the end of this series.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16-18

The first thing we see here is that Jesus said, “When you fast…”  Preachers are always quick to point out to their people that Jesus said, “When you pray…” They explain that it means Jesus expects prayer to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  They do the same thing with “When you give…”  What happened to fasting?

It seems to me that the Lord wants fasting to be just as much a part of our lives.  Many of us ignore it and think our walk with God will not suffer for it.  Jesus assumed that fasting was to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  I believe that most of us don’t understand it, and that’s why it is not practiced.

Question: How important is fasting in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Is Fasting for You? #spiritualfast

PlateDo you ever fast?  How often do you fast?  Do you fast regularly?  Weekly?  Monthly?  Why do you fast?  Why don’t you fast?  Is fasting even important in the life of the Christian?

I believe that fasting is one of the most powerful disciplines that you can participate in.  So, I’m going to deal with some of these issues in a series of posts.  Hopefully, by the end of this series, you will decide to fast at least one day a week.  Not only that, but you’ll look forward to fasting with expectancy in what it will accomplish in your life and ministry.

The Old Testament is filled with references about fasting.  I want to take this post to explain the Old Testament fast and how it relates to the New Testament.  As in all areas, whenever an Old Covenant teaching is studied, it must pass through the filter of the cross before we can apply it to our lives.  Only then can you know how much of it, if any, has a place in the New Covenant.

The first thing that should strike you as you study the Old Testament is that fasting was a very mournful experience.  Here are a few occurrences for you to look up.  In Judges 20:26, Israel fasted after a military defeat in order to gain a victory.  In I Kings 21:9, they fasted during a time of judgment in order to show their humility and repentance.  In Joel 1:14, it was to show repentance.

The principle found in I Samuel 31:13 shows fasting during a time of mourning.  In Daniel 9:3, he fasted to remind God of the promise to restore Israel.  Finally, Ezra 8:21 demonstrates humility before God in order to bring about the restoration of Jerusalem.

It’s clear from the above verses that a majority of the Old Testament fasting experience was one of mourning and humility before God.  Unfortunately, many Christians spend a lot of time getting all of their fasting theology from the Old Testament.

They think that they have to mourn over sin and fast in order to do “penance.”  They’re hoping that by doing something hard, they’ll obtain what they want from God.  In essence, they’re trying to get God to do something for them by doing something difficult for Him.  As you’ll see from Scripture, this is not the fast we’re called to.

Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me.  This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace.”
Zechariah 8:18-19

Zechariah was a prophet who ministered just before the “quiet time” between the Old and New Testaments.  During his time, a prophecy came forth that some day fasting was going to change.

Instead of the mourning that Israel was accustomed to, fasting was going to become a joy.  I believe that he was referring to the fast that we experience under the New Covenant.  That’s the fast I will talk about in the upcoming posts.

Question: What’s your fasting experience at this point in your Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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The Day of Christ #returnofChrist

Cloud2I’ve been posting about how Christ will reveal Himself at His return.  We’ve talked about Jesus’ teaching in Luke, chapter 17, on the days of Noah and Lot.

Remember that He already said in verse 24 that when He’s revealed on that day, every eye will see Him.  It will not be a private return.  He’s coming in all of His glory.

“On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot’s wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”
Luke 17:31-36

Many interpret this verse to mean that the one taken is taken into heaven and the one left is the one that’s going to be judged.  How can this be?  In both of His examples, the stories of Noah and Lot, the Lord clearly states that the unrighteous are taken in judgment and the righteous ones are left.

The disciples wanted Jesus to clarify what He was teaching them.  They asked the obvious question: Where was it that they were taken to?

“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Luke 17:37

Jesus makes it clear that those taken are dead bodies.  The Greek word for carcass is what the NIV translates as dead body.  Also, the word Jesus used for vulture is a generic term that could be used for any carrion bird that feeds on dead bodies.

So in answer to the question “Where are they taken?” Jesus said, “Do you want to know where the carcasses are taken?  Then look for the vultures.”  Personally, I don’t want to be taken like that.  I want to be one of the ones who are left.

What, then, have we learned in this portion of Scripture?  First of all, I see a time of warning leading up to the time when Christ is revealed.  We then come to a day – a literal, twenty-four hour day – during which He will reveal Himself.

Christ uses two examples, Noah and Lot, to explain His point.  In both cases the day starts out with some saints.  They are then somehow supernaturally protected during the events of that day.  In Noah’s case he was put in the ark and in Lot’s case he was taken out of the city.

On the day that they were protected, salvation was then closed and judgment fell.  After judgment had fallen, at the end of the day, the saints were left.  That’s the way I read it and that’s the way I believe Christ meant it to be read.

Questions: Are you prepared for that day?  How have you prepared?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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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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Noah and the Day of the Lord #returnofChrist

Rain SignI’ve been posting about how Jesus compared the last days to the days of Noah in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17.  Noah obeyed God and built the ark to save his family.  When the rain was about to fall, God told Noah and his family to enter the ark.

At that point, when all were safe inside, God shut the door.  That was it, there was no turning back.  No one could leave, and no one else could enter the ark of salvation.  This is an important point in the principle Jesus is trying to get across to His disciples.

When all these things had taken place, the judgment of God fell upon that ancient world.

Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died.  Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth.  Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
Genesis 7:22-23

Now it’s important for me to ask you another question.  According to the Scripture above, who was left?  The answer is simple yet ignored.  It clearly states that Noah and everybody in the ark were left.  Who was wiped away from off the face of the earth?  Every person and animal not in the ark.

It’s so clearly stated that you might ask why I’m emphasizing this issue.  There’s a very important reason.  Most of the people, who interpret this section of Scripture, rip it from its context, reverse it, and say that Noah was taken and the rest were left.  We’re not going to do that today.  I believe this verse as written and refuse to do any scriptural gymnastics to try and make it say something that it doesn’t.  A parallel passage of Scripture is Matthew 24:39.

“…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.  That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 24:39

Even in His comments concerning the flood Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it was the sinners that were taken and Noah who was left.  This is a very important concept to grasp.  It goes against most of the teaching in the church today.  Yet it’s vital that we agree with what Christ says no matter what a man teaches.

Question: Does this challenge or confirm your beliefs about the second coming of the Lord?  How?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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The Last Days – The days of Noah #returnofChrist

UmbrellaIn my last post I talked about a statement that Jesus made to the church.  In it He warns us that the last days before His return would be similar to the days of Noah.  What was that like?  Things were going along business as usual.

The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Genesis 6:5

That sounds very familiar.  God saw how great man’s wickedness had become.  People’s thoughts would turn in the direction of evil all the time.  Our society is like that today.  The main concern of most people is, “How can I satisfy myself?”  That’s fallen man’s cry from morning until night. Both Noah’s society and what we see happening around us today sound the same to me.

You know the rest of the story.  God shows Noah His plan.  Noah obeys and builds the ark for the saving of his family.  But what does all that have to do with the return of Christ?  Jesus is making a comparison here.

The world was filled with violence during the days of Noah.  Our society is plagued with the same things as well.  We see wickedness, evil thoughts, corruption, and violence all around us.  If you live in the inner city, violence is a way of life.  Unfortunately, it’s moving out more and more into the countryside, just like it was in the days of Noah.  What is this leading to?

On that very day Noah and his sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, together with his wife and the wives of his three sons, entered the ark.  They had with them every wild animal according to its kind…Then the Lord shut him in.
Genesis 7:13-16

Just like it was in THE DAYS of Noah, they were eating, drinking, and marrying right up until THE DAY Noah entered the ark.  Scripture says “the very day” Noah entered the ark.  At that point the flood came.

Did they have any warning that the flood was coming?  They sure did!  Noah had been warning them for about one hundred years.  That’s how long it took him to build the ark.

What we need to understand is that when the door to the ark was finally shut it was too late.  Here is a very important question.  Who shut the door to the ark?  Please pay careful attention to this fact.  It was God who shut the door.  Noah didn’t shut it, and he couldn’t open it.

Once that door was shut, no one could change their mind and get in.  It was too late.  I’m sure that when the rain started falling, there were people pounding on that door.  But when God shuts the door, the time of repentance is over.

I believe that there will be a day when God will close the door to salvation.  That’s why it’s imperative that we preach the Good News while God’s ark of salvation remains open.

Question: What are you doing to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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