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Tag Archives: inner man

Let Yourself be Stretched

BandsI’ve been posting about the place of fasting in the believer’s life. In my last article we saw that there was a difference between fasting under the Old and New Covenants. The New Covenant fast is so that you put down your flesh to better hear from God.

We don’t seem to hear the voice of the Lord as well as they did in the early church. I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as me not listening. Fasting helps me drown out the noise of my flesh.

But Jesus gave another parable…

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:17

The Old Testament fast is likened to old wineskins; empty, used up, dry, and unyielding. They have nothing of value on the inside.

In that culture, new wine was unfermented grape juice. The fermentation process produces gasses that pressurize the skins. Old, dry and unyielding bags would burst. You can’t live for God like that.

A new wineskin was made of unstretched leather. Then it was oiled to make it soft and pliable. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us – to prepare us to receive God’s Word.

Then we get that new wine in us. It starts to ferment, the pressure builds up and the wineskin stretches.

That’s another reason why fasting is so important to us. Fasting increases the inner man. When you fast, there’s a spiritual pressure that builds up.

You’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. Now you have something to give.

You’re now able to pour out into someone else. Then the pressure is released – for a little while anyway.

By fasting you have something on the inside that stretches the outside. I don’t know what God wants to do this year, but I want to be prepared to hear His voice.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:1-2

Just before Jesus started His public ministry He went on an extended fast. He knew that He was going to be tempted and tested. In order to prepare Himself, He fasted.

Do you think you’ll be tested this year? What are you going to do? How will you enter the test? Prepared? Or not? How will you answer the enemy?

The truth is that fasting prepares us for the battle ahead. I don’t know what’s coming. But I know this; the enemy is good at predicting it based upon what he sees lining up in the spirit world.

We don’t see it. We have to rely upon what we hear from God. Are we going to have a Word from God for our generation? That’s what’s needed.

I want to be prepared to face 2016 and all it holds. The blessings, callings, testings – everything. So I fast to hear from God. Enter into the blessing that fasting brings.

Question: How will you incorporate fasting into the New Year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Fasting, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You Tired?

ClimberI don’t know about you, but sometimes I just get tired. Tired of the battles, the problems of life, and everything that society throws at me. It’s times like that when I need to seek the encouragement of the Word of God.

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

The Apostle Paul understood how to live victoriously in spite of all the stuff that was happening around him. He knew where to go to receive strength in his time of need.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to build us up in our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe that there’s any such thing as an easy life. Of course, as the saying goes, the grass is always greener in someone else’s yard. We look at other people and think that they have it so easy.

The reality is that we’re all different. We all see life from a different perspective. The things that you find difficult to deal with, I don’t have any problem with. And some of the things that trip me up, you don’t struggle with at all.

The simple fact is that everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are the qualities we seem to lose so easily. Yet that’s exactly what the Lord wants to bring into our lives.

Apart from the Holy Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish then collapse in exhaustion.

Finishing strong requires me to rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that without Him I can do nothing.

It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

That’s why we need to run to God’s Word. The verse above is especially encouraging. I’m so glad that the apostle didn’t say, “Being strengthened with some power according to my best efforts.”

When I draw on the power of the Spirit, I have access to all power – all the power I need overcome in every area of my life. This power isn’t based upon what I can do. It’s all because of the Lord’s unlimited resources. He’s the One I look to for help.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that is yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the difference between living in your power vs. the Holy Spirit’s?

©Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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The Secret of Inner Power

PackageDid you know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? The things that are happening around us don’t determine our destiny. We need to learn to live above our circumstances.

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to strengthen our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as an easy life. We all have to go through struggles and trials.

We look at the lives of others and think that they have it easy. That’s only because the things that get me down don’t affect you in the same way. Conversely, the things that you’re having trouble with don’t bother me at all. We all experience things differently.

That’s why everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are qualities we seem to lose so easily. But they are the things that the Holy Spirit wants to equip us with.

Endurance. This comes from a Greek word that means to remain under. Sometimes we have to go through experiences that are uncomfortable. We feel like giving up. The Holy Spirit can give us the power to see it through to the final victory.

Patience. This one sounds the same as endurance but it’s a little different. It literally means to be long passioned. In other words, it’s the ability to go through a hard time without “having a meltdown.” Sometimes in the midst of problems we say or do things that we’re sorry for the rest of our lives. The Lord wants to keep us from making these kinds of mistakes.

Joy. Joy is an interesting concept in the New Testament. It’s very different from the emotion of happiness. Happiness is based what happens. Joy is based upon the knowledge that you are in Christ and nothing can touch you without His permission. Therefore, you can have a positive outlook on life because Jesus has the final say.

The fact is, apart from His Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish my race then collapse in exhaustion. I want to enter Heaven with my head held high, knowing that the Lord has brought me through victoriously.

To finish strong I must rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that “without Him I can do nothing.” It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that’s yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the Lord’s strength working in you recently?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Warning: Legalism is Addictive

PillsIn my last post, I talked about hearing from God and receiving vision for your life and ministry.  This is important, because under the New Covenant, believers need to be hearing from God.

I’m so glad that whenever I pray, God hears me in Christ.  But I also need to hear Him when He speaks.  I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as it’s me not listening.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus made a startling statement that many have overlooked.  But first, let’s look at the context.

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”
Luke 5:37-38

In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism.  Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding.

That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees Jesus had to deal with.  They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.

In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice.  As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins.

Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure.  You can’t live for God like that.

A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.

As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment.  There is a spiritual pressure that builds up.  That’s what brings growth.

Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you.  The pressure is building.  You have something to give and pour out into someone else.

Listen to Jesus’ next statement.

“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5:39

Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit.  Why is that?  Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.

Legalism strokes my ego.  “Look at what I’m doing for God.  I read my Bible and pray every day.  I go to church every week.  I’m better than most.”

This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking.  We don’t feel the need to hear from God.  We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.

Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit.  That’s the deception of legalism.

I want to be prepared to hear His voice.  This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to stretch my outer man sometimes.  It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.

Question: How far are you willing to be stretched by the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Legalism, Prayer

 

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There’s no Excuse for Lack of Vision #Vision

BlurThe following is adapted from my book, Breaking Free from the Pack – Developing a Spirit of Excellence.

And he uttered his oracle: “The oracle of Balaam, son of Beor, the oracle of one whose eye sees clearly, the oracle of one who hears the words of God, who sees a vision from the Almighty, who falls prostrate, and whose eyes are opened:”
Numbers 24:3-4

Even though he was a spiritist and an idolater, Balaam understood something about vision.  Vision is the ability to see and perceive the way ahead through the eyes of your inner man.

We need spiritual eyes that see clearly.  In verse 4, when Balaam says that he hears the words of God, a Hebrew word is used which means to hear intelligently, to give attention to.

In your walk with the Lord, you can only go as far as you can see.  We get into trouble when we’re not seeing what God is showing.  We need to stop assuming that we know it all.  The attention and focus must be upon what God is saying to us.

For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll.  And if you give the scroll to someone who can read, and say to him, “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I can’t; it is sealed.”  Or if you give the scroll to someone who cannot read, and say, “Read this, please,” he will answer, “I don’t know how to read.”
The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.
Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
Isaiah 29:11-14

I’ve found that many people have excuses as to why they don’t know God’s vision for their life and ministry.  To some it’s a mystical thing, words sealed on a spiritual scroll that they can’t open.

They say, “I’m waiting for God to reveal it to me.”  All the while, they’ll sit back and do nothing until the sky opens up and they see angels ascending and descending.

Others think so little of themselves that they believe God can’t possibly give them vision.  They believe that they could never read the spiritual climate they’re in.  They feel that they’re not worthy, not strong enough spiritually, or not mature enough in the Lord.

God is simply looking for a person who’s willing to listen to Him.  He wants to open up His heart.  He wants to show us His vision for our life and ministry so that we can use it to chart the course we will follow.  The Lord doesn’t care if you’re just starting out or if you’ve walked with Him forty years already.

Human nature would rather talk about serving God than actually doing it.  If I’m content to worship God with my lips, then I will not go to God personally to hear His voice. Instead, I want the pastor to hear from God and tell me what I need to do.

Some prefer rules taught by men rather than the discipline that it takes to seek God for themselves.  I can never enter into the fullness of God’s blessing with that attitude.  It’s up to me to spend time in His presence and receive spiritual vision.

Question: What’s the God-given vision for your life at this point?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2014 in Ministry, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Food for the Journey of Life #wordofGod

TrailHave you been starving your inner man?  Spiritual victories require a healthy soul.

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.  Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.  With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
Exodus 12:37-39

Israel was about to leave Egypt.  Moses, the man of God, had warned them days before that they would need to depart quickly.  In order to accomplish this, they took along dough made without yeast.

I’ve shared in the past that I like to get away now and then to hike and pray in the wilderness.

I’ve learned a lot of spiritual lessons along the way.  It comes as no surprise that one of the most important hiking supplies is food.  Thru-hikers walking the Appalachian Trail plan “food drops” to be waiting for them at strategic post offices along the route.  This way they can easily resupply along the way.

One Friday night in a shelter, I met a young man who was out of food and money.  This was a big problem for him even though he had a supply box waiting at a nearby post office.  Ahead of him was a full day’s walk to the post office (which closed at noon on Saturday).  This was compounded by the fact that this particular Monday was a holiday.  That would be three days without food.

I happened to be at the end of the section I was hiking – so I was able to bless him with a ride to pick up his drop before the post office closed.  Needless to say, he was very grateful.

That got me thinking of a spiritual application.  The Word of God is our spiritual bread.  There are many Christians who try to hike the road of life with only one or two meals a week.

So often we wonder why the obstacles of life take such a toll on us.  We blame God and ask why it’s so hard to serve Him.  All the while we live in spiritual starvation.

We need a constant diet of God’s Word if we’re to be victorious.  In the same way that we can’t be healthy without nutritious food, we can’t live for God without a diet of His Word.

Please don’t neglect this vital nourishment.

Question: What do you do to keep well fed in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Inner Strength

Ephesians 3:16
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.

Now that we are in the Spring season, my mind starts to think about hiking.  I love to get out and walk the Appalachian Trail.  In order to be ready, I have been either walking or riding my bike each morning.  I want to strengthen those lazy winter muscles.

Strength is a necessary part of the outdoors experience.  When my wife and I started to add children to our family we stopped hiking because of the limited time we had.  Since I have started back up again I have lost 30 pounds.  (Pounds that I had “found” up till that time!)

I can tell you by experience that out of shape people cannot enjoy hiking as fully as those used to the rigors of trail life.  I remember well the pain in my legs and back when I first started.  I had to stop every few feet while going uphill, just to breathe.  Thank God, I am starting to get in shape again!

More important than physical condition, however, is the shape of your inner being.  The spiritual trail you are on is far tougher than any wilderness trail.  God wants to strengthen you for that journey.

It is going to take quality time spent in the presence of the Lord.  That is why your time in the presence of the Lord is so beneficial.  It builds you up internally.  To do this you must free yourself from distractions so that you can concentrate on Christ.

Let Him strengthen you today.  Spend time before Him just drinking in His Spirit.  Take the time necessary so that your inner man is ready for the road ahead, no matter how rough the path.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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