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Tag Archives: putting down the flesh

Eyes on the Prize

The Olympics are a worldwide phenomenon.  It seems like for two weeks, everything else is put on hold.  There are no other important news stories.  Everyone focuses on the competition.

Are you one of those people who loves watching the drama of the Olympics unfold?  If so, what excites you about it?

Paul used the backdrop of the Olympics to explain his view of the ministry.  Listen to how he puts it.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24

In the ministry, we’re competing for the prize.  The prize is your destiny in Christ.  It should be your reason for living.

The fact is that only one gets the prize.  It’s the one who pushes himself out in front and crosses the finish line first.  Please understand that I’m not talking about racing against other believers.

No, you’re racing against yourself.  Your lazy self, your proud self, your distracted self, and your “all for Christ” self.  They’re all running against each other.  Run in such a way that you get the prize the Lord has called you to receive.

Paul tells us how this is accomplished.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27

The first key is strict training versus running aimlessly.  We need to focus on our calling in Christ.  What is it that the Lord wants you to accomplish?  What will it take for you to lay hold of it?

This is something that we need to hear in our generation.  We get so distracted by all that’s happening around us.  There are so many opportunities to participate in.

I wish it were simply a matter of right and wrong, but it’s not.  It’s about what you want to accomplish for eternity.

There’s nothing wrong with eating a hot fudge sundae.  However, if you’re training to run a marathon, then it’s not the best food choice.  In our ministry, we avoid certain activities, not because they’re wrong, but because they’re counter-productive to what we want to accomplish.

The other issue is beating the air versus beating my body.  This makes it clear that we truly are competing against our own selves.

Who is going to be in charge?  Will the desires of my flesh determine my destiny?  Or will I, instead, let my spirit lead me into God’s perfect will for my life?

These are the things we need to deal with on a daily basis.  We put the flesh down and build the spirit up.

Of course, that’s not easy or comfortable.  I’m talking about fasting and prayer.  Then there’s prayer in the spirit and meditating on the Word of God.  I also have to be in right relationship with my fellow believers.

Do I have to do these things in order to be a “good Christian”?  Absolutely not.

Unless…your goal is to win the prize of your destiny in Christ.

Question: What is your “strict training” that pushes you toward the prize?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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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 Your Clothes Shrinking?

clothes2I’m posting about the place of fasting in the life of a believer. In my last post I looked at an incident in the life of the early church.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:2-3

We saw that it was fasting that prepared them to hear from God. They received the message to set apart Barnabas and Saul. So what did they do next? They continued to fast and pray in order to hear the specifics of this calling.

You need the whole Word from God. Too many people run off with only part of the message. Then they get into trouble and blame God.

What’s so special about fasting? In Jesus’ ministry He taught what to do “when you fast.” Jesus assumed that fasting would be a normal part of our lives.

I believe that hearing from God is the great assumption in the New Testament. In the above verse, it doesn’t look like a special, radical, event took place in the church. A mature believer should be hearing from God regularly.

The problem we have today is that much of the church has lost this ability to hear from God. It’s hearing from God that gets us to the narrow gate I talked about in my last post. His Word to us helps us to stay on the narrow road. Fasting is the key.

There was a point when the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting. They noticed that Jesus’ disciples were not. They questioned Jesus about it.

He said that fasting would change in the transition from the Old Covenant to the New. The Lord wanted the disciples to wait until after the resurrection to begin fasting. Jesus gives a description of these differences in parable form.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.”
Matthew 9:16

First, the Lord talks about the outside – a garment. The old way was to take an old cloth and patch an old garment. Fasting in the Old Testament was only a patch. At that time, fasting was all about getting God to listen to me. I needed to patch things up between God and me.

If I try to patch the garment in the New Testament it only makes things worse. Then how do I get God to hear me? I DON’T!!!

In Christ we now have access to God 24/7. There’s now no condemnation and we can enter boldly into His presence. Now we are a new garment and we don’t need a patch.

But a new garment (back then) would shrink with usage. Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment. That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease. We want the voice of the flesh to get quieter.

Fasting forcefully puts down the flesh. This is because now it’s about me hearing from God. God hears me in Christ. But I need to hear Him when He speaks. And that’s where fasting comes in.

Question: How often, and for how, long do you fast?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Fasting, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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