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Fasting and Preparation

In my last post, I talked about Jesus’ view of fasting.  There was a change from the Old to the New Testament fast.  The Lord explained it in parable form.

Last time, we looked at the parable of the patches.  Christ also gave another parable concerning the difference between the Old and New Covenant fast.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
Mark 2:22

The Old Covenant is the old wineskins that the Lord is referring to.  It’s empty, used up, dry, and unyielding.  It has nothing on the inside to give life.

New wine is unfermented grape juice.  During the fermentation process, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins.  A dry and unyielding wineskin will burst under the pressure of this reaction.  You can’t live for God like that.

A new wineskin; unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable, is ready to receive the new wine.  We get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us when we’re saved.

As we spend time in the Lord’s presence, it starts to ferment; it creates a pressure on the inside, and we start to grow.  That’s the second part of this process.

Fasting increases the inner man.  There’s a spiritual pressure that builds up.  Because you’re quieting your flesh, you begin hearing from God.  Then, as you spend time with the Holy Spirit, something is being poured into you.

The pressure is building.  Now you have something to give that will cause God’s grace to flow through you.  Now you can pour out into someone else.

When you walk in your calling, the pressure released – for a little while.  Now you have something on the inside that stretches the outside.  I don’t know what God wants to do in the months and years ahead, 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

We find that just before Jesus started His public ministry He went through a time of tempting and testing.  What did He do to prepare for it?  He fasted.

Do you think you’ll be tested in the coming year?  What are you going to do?  How will you enter the test?  Prepared or unprepared?  How will you answer the enemy?

The fact is, fasting prepares us for the battle.  We 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 on 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 whatever lies ahead.  The blessings, the callings, the tests – everything.  So I’ll fast in order to hear from God more clearly.  I hope you will too.

Question: What are the things that God’s preparing you for in 2018?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Fasting, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Bodyguard

HandsThis will be my last post in a series about spiritual warfare as seen through the eyes of David’s mighty men. In my last article I talked about Abishai, who was a giant killer, just like David. Now we’ll learn a little more about him.

He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
2 Samuel 23:23

He wasn’t the same type of fighter as The Three. He probably didn’t hang out with them. They liked a good battle with uneven odds. He liked to go one on one with a giant. The good news is that we don’t have to all be the same.

When David saw his ability, he put Abishai over his bodyguards. And that’s the last big point I want to make. The mighty in spirit protect their leaders.

In the body of Christ, it seems like we’ve picked up the world’s spirit. Many times we treat church leaders the way we treat government officials. We gossip and joke about them. Sometimes we out rightly ignore them.

I believe it’s because we don’t understand the body of Christ. In reality, a pastor or church leader is not a commander, a president, or a king.

Personally speaking, when I hear from God, usually it’s when I’m minding my own business. I never wanted to enter the ministry when I was young. But when I wasn’t expecting it, the Lord spoke to my heart.

“Son, I’ve given you a gift of being able to take my Word and explain it with simplicity. You make My Word accessible to a lot of people. So I’m going to wrap you up as a gift to My church to help them attain to my calling on their lives.”

It wasn’t my plan. It’s actually all about your call and abilities. God has called me to encourage you, through the Word, to fulfill God’s calling. That’s all I’m able to do. That’s all any church leader is able to do.

What you do with me is totally up to you. You can choose to listen, ignore, blame, or talk about me. Of course you could also choose to receive my counsel and to pray for me. My prayer is that you decide on the second route.

That’s because those who lead are under greater attack from the enemy. People in church leadership need intercessors to go to war for them. It’s vital that there are those who are committed to protect their leaders daily in prayer.

We need spiritual bodyguards. It’s time to get some back at their posts in this generation. Are you a mighty bodyguard? Do you pray regularly and consistently for those over you in the body of Christ?

Where do you fit in as a mighty one? After all, you’re all called to be one. Are you content to simply be a part of the 600? Or do you aspire for more – to be part of the 30, the three, or the one?

Question: How often do you pray for church leadership?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Giant Killers

stonesI’m posting about spiritual warfare and using David’s mighty men as our examples. Today I want to talk about someone named Benaiah.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
2 Samuel 23:20

Benaiah was special. He wasn’t like the others. He was at his best when the fight was one on one.

But when I read about his encounter with the lion, I don’t think that was planned. I think that it was simply a snowy day. He hit a patch of slippery ground and slid into the pit.

Did you ever have a day like that? It’s snowy, it’s cold, and just when you think it couldn’t get any worse you slide into pit. Then you look around only to find a mad lion at the bottom. It’s a day that just keeps going from bad to worse.

In our situation we know that the enemy roams around like a roaring lion. You need to understand what that means. When a pride of lions are hunting their prey, they have a system. The young, strong ones silently circle around in front of the intended victim.

But it’s the oldest one – not as strong and maybe missing some teeth – who stays in the rear. There’s one thing he can do, and that’s to let out a huge roar. That scares the prey so that they run straight to the waiting pack.

In Abishai’s case, if he had tried to run away he would have been dead. The only course open to him was to fight the lion.

In our struggles, it’s the same thing. Never run scared from the enemy’s roar. The name of Jesus is more than enough to bring about the victory.

This is how we’re to behave. The mighty never run from the enemy. They go on the offensive in a battle.

And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.
2 Samuel 23:21

Abishai was a giant killer just like David. We need to pick up that same spirit. One of the enemy’s most frequently used tactics is to make the problem look overwhelmingly large.

We look at the challenge ahead and compare it to our abilities and resources. We start to fear and get anxious over how we’re going to get through. That’s a certain recipe for disaster.

We have to come to the realization that Jesus Christ is bigger that any situation we’ll ever face. We must keep our eyes fixed on Him, knowing that all the resources of Heaven are there to back Him up.

Question: What are some giants that the Lord has helped you overcome?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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But I Wasn’t Asked

Question MarkI’ve been posting about David’s mighty men. They have a lot they can teach us about spiritual warfare.

I shared about the greatest of this group. They were simply known as “The Three”. Men named Josheb, Eleazar, and Shammah. But with these three, it wasn’t just about boldness. It was their heart that made the difference.

Here they are at a place called Adullam, with David. David’s home town, Bethlehem, was under Philistine control. Israel’s enemy actually had a military post there. Soldiers were housed there.

At one point, David starts to get homesick.

David longed for water and said, “Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!”
2 Samuel 23:15

He was simply musing about his home. But it didn’t end there.

So the three mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the LORD.
“Far be it from me, O LORD, to do this!” he said. “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?” And David would not drink it. Such were the exploits of the three mighty men.
2 Samuel 23:16-17

Do you hear the heartbeat of these men? They weren’t ordered to do this. No one asked them to do it. There was no memo – “If anyone has some free time…”

David didn’t need this water. He was just talking – “You know what I miss, the water of Bethlehem.”

I can picture the looks on the faces of The Three. They probably didn’t have to say a word to each other as they quietly slipped away during the night.

How many things need to be done in the kingdom of God these days? When asked, some reply, “I just don’t feel called.”

Other times you ask why something went undone. You hear things like, “Nobody asked”; or, “I don’t like the way I was asked.”

I think that it’s funny sometimes when we look at incredible international ministries and successes. Many times we find that they’re being done by people who started small, just meeting a little need that they came across.

“I could have done that.”

But you didn’t.

“I didn’t know it would grow that big.”

They didn’t either. Do you think these mighty men said, “If we bring David this water, we’re definitely getting our names in the Bible.”?

It’s clear from the Scripture that the mighty take the initiative. They don’t need to be asked, begged, or coerced.

Too many good people were clueless in Israel. Others were content to be in the 600. But to be one of the mighty requires more. Is that your goal?

Spend time in the presence of the Lord – then do what He impresses upon your heart. That’s the start of greatness.

Question: What is God prompting you to do for Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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The Challenge

ClimberIf you’re not facing any challenges, then you’re not living up to your full potential in Christ. That statement is true, whether we want to hear it or not. As much as we’d like a nice easy road, that’s not what the Lord promised us.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many Christians would rather bury their heads in the sand than face the truth. We’re in a battle. We’re fighting for the souls of the men and women around us. Most of them are not even aware of what’s really going on in the spirit.

The good news is that Christ has already won the victory. We’re simply a part of the clean-up crew. We’re here to enforce the Lord’s victory on the enemy’s kingdom. We’re to open up the prisons and bring healing to the scarred and hurting – spiritually speaking.

It’s not all about my agenda and what I want to accomplish. I need to yield my life to the will of Christ. After all, He’s the Commander and Chief. He’s the one who gives us our marching orders.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10

I might be dating myself, but one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies is The Matrix. It had an interesting concept. Because they lived in a virtual world, if they needed to know Karate, they could just download it into their brain. If they needed to fly a helicopter, they could download that knowledge.

It’s too bad that doesn’t work for us – even though some Christians try that technique in their spiritual lives. We sometimes think that we can do our own thing, then when we get into trouble, we can pray.

Many people find out too late that this strategy doesn’t work very well. I can’t wait for the enemy’s attack, then suddenly learn to resist him. The time to prepare is before the problem.

The “secret” to overcoming is in knowing where our strength comes from. We’re told to be strong in the Lord. That’s where we prepare for the struggle.

That’s why it’s so important to remain in Christ. We need to be a people of prayer, even when everything seems to be going smoothly along. It’s when we’re spending time in the Spirit that we’re downloading the weaponry needed to overcome our future challenges.

I’m only ready for the problems of life if I am resting in the Lord. It’s His mighty power that will sustain me. Take the time to draw from the Lord’s ability. Be strong in His mighty power.

Question: How can God’s power help you in the challenge you’re facing right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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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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The Battle Zone Mentality – Knowing the Cost

JailIn my last post I talked about what it means to bring our petitions to God in prayer. It’s all about being moved in our spirits by the same passion that stirs the Lord.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

We must be passionate as we live in this spiritual battle zone. We need to be passionate about our duty. This is what we are called – under orders – to carry out.

In Scripture we’re told what’s important to our Commander. God’s people should be petitioning for workers in the field, healing, deliverance, protection, baptism in the spirit, and for God’s will to be accomplished.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:3-4

It’s clear from Scripture that there are two different mentalities. You could think like a soldier or like a civilian. Which are you?

In may last post I used the illustration of a company of soldiers who were ordered to take a hill. They are making a passionate call for reinforcements, air support, and medical evacuation of the wounded so that they could fulfill their orders.

At the same time, back home, there are people safe in their houses watching TV. They don’t know or care that this company of soldiers is pinned down. They don’t know or care about the objective to take that hill. They don’t know or care if these soldiers succeed or die.

Maybe the next day they’ll hear a news report about soldiers who were killed in the line of duty and say, “That’s too bad.”

The key mentality of battle is that each soldier knows the importance of the objective. They know just how precious every foot of ground is. They also know what the cost of advancement is.

There are people in the body of Christ right now, who go to church on Sunday. They sing, clap, and hear a message that uplifts them. Then they go off happily to their homes. Or maybe they go off to work or play. They don’t know or care that there’s a lost soul about to enter eternity that needs to hear the message of the cross NOW.

“God, send reinforcements.”

They don’t care that the enemy has trapped someone in a prison of drugs.

“God, send air support. Break the stronghold so we can set them free.”

That’s what this word petition means. Knowing the objective and passionately begging for the support from on high. Not because we need to beg, but because we know the cost of failure. We know how precious a soul is to the Lord.

We know the price of victory. We have a warrior’s mentality.

Question: How do you fulfill the call to bring petitions to the Lord on behalf of others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2015 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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