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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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Does Your Tongue Lead a Double Life?

Are you living a double life? That’s the question James asks us in his small book. I’ve been posting about how our tongue shows publically what’s going on in our heart.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
James 3:9-12

There’s a self-deception sometimes, over how far along we are in our spiritual maturity. We like to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true when we find ourselves in a Christian meeting, praising God along with everyone else.

James gives us a more accurate picture. He starts with what it looks like by observation. Praise and cursing coming from the same mouth. “Lord I love you” with one breath, and telling someone “you’re no good” with the next. It looks like you can do both – unless you see God’s perspective.

That’s why James asks these questions. He knows the answer. Jesus answered them with His disciples. I’m sure that James heard Jesus say it on more than one occasion.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:43-45

It’s obvious that James hasn’t changed the subject. He’s still talking about controlling the tongue by what you put in your heart.

More than that, he’s saying what sounds like praise to us, is not always praise to God. If your heart is overflowing with things other than the Word, then your so-called praise is not acceptable to God. It may look like fresh water to all those around, but to God it’s a salt spring.

A life that’s consistently producing bad fruit is a sign of a heart without much of the Word of God. What about the praise that’s going up to God? Isn’t that a sign of a good heart?

I wish it were. Unfortunately, praising God is not a fruit of the spirit. I’ve even heard some ungodly people exclaim, “Praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah” at times. That’s not the sign of maturity.

The fruit of the spirit and maturity are things that can’t be forced or pretended. They have to be grown into. That’s why there must be a consistent walk with the Lord. The more of the Word we receive – both the written and spoken Word of God – the more our hearts overflow with the right things.

Take love, for an example. The world looks at the emotion. As the fruit of a mature spiritual life, love is a choice we make. It goes against our human nature to choose to love people we don’t even like. That’s why we need the power of the spirit working in us.

The sign of our maturity is not a random act of kindness once in a long while. It’s the consistent production of mature fruit on a daily basis. That’s the sign of a life spent in the presence of the Lord.

Question: What fruit of the spirit have been evident in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Are You Religious?

What comes to your mind when you hear the word religious? Do you think about someone who goes to church, reads the Bible, and prays a lot? The Bible has a very different definition of what religious should be.

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:26-27

The word religious in this passage comes from a Greek word that means ceremonial observances. That means that you do things out of tradition. So to understand it, we need to realize that this doesn’t apply to our spiritual walk with Christ.

Being spiritual is all about relationship, not religion. I come to Christ in prayer, in the church, and in the Scripture, not because it’s tradition or ceremony. I come to Him because I want to know Him better as a person.

The better I relate to Christ, the more growth I experience in my Christian walk. I do know that there are many Christians who treat their walk with God in a religious way. However, in my opinion, it’s much better to cultivate a relationship with Christ, then to simply follow religious observances.

What, then, does this Scripture want us to be religious about? I can see three things that we need to observe as a tradition in our lives.

First of all, we need to religiously control our tongues. James goes so far as to say that if you don’t control your tongue, you’re deceiving yourself as to your maturity. It doesn’t matter what else you do, it’s all worthless without bringing the tongue under control.

That’s because our mouth doesn’t speak on its own.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

Control of the tongue is about controlling what you put into your heart. So if you’re not constantly filling your heart with the Word, your tongue will declare it publically.

The next part of good religion is to help those in distress. We don’t just live for ourselves. There’s a world of hurting people around us. Orphans, widows, single parents, and those in prison all need encouragement and help. There are many more than just those groups.

If we truly want to start a tradition, it should be one of helping others in their need. More than any other group, Christians should be the ones that help those no one else cares about. After all, that’s what Jesus did in His ministry.

The final part is to keep yourself from being polluted by the world. That’s a tough assignment. The Scripture literally says to keep from becoming spotted or stained by the world.

Every day, as we work and interact with those around us, the dirt from society is coming at us. If we’re not careful, we can start picking up some of the same attitudes. This will greatly hinder our walk with God.

We need to be in the pattern, the tradition, of going to God daily for repentance. As the Holy Spirit prompts us that we need to be cleaned of something, we need to be quick to respond. In that way we’ll be free of the stains of the world.

If you want to be religious about something, these are the things you should major on; and keep your walk with Christ as a growing relationship.

Question: What are the religious traditions in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2017 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Called to be Mighty

strongTough times call for tough people. That’s especially true in the body of Christ. More than ever we need to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about God’s plan in our nation.

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

I am prompted to meditate on David and the men who were drawn to him as he was being hunted by King Saul. It was quite a group who joined him.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
1 Samuel 22:1-2

According to the Bible, the men who came to David were basically fed up with the way things were. They were distressed, in debt, and discontent.

The fact is that God is still looking for some angry people. He needs people with attitude.

“This is not the way it should be.”

That’s what God is doing in the church right now. He’s cultivating this attitude. This nation needs to change. The church needs to change. I need to change.

I want to take a couple of posts to look at some of the men who came to David. The ones termed his mighty men.

Of course, that was for a physical battle. Right now we’re in a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of those around us. It goes without saying that the Lord needs mighty women as well.

By the way, maybe you disagree with that statement – and don’t believe that it’s a woman’s place to be mighty. If that’s you, then please note that in Proverbs 31, the word usually translated virtuous, is the exact word mighty used with David’s men.

Out of the 600 or so men who eventually joined with David, only 30 were called mighty. Think about it; 600 people knew what God was doing in Israel. 600 aligned themselves with God’s plan. These men joined David’s fight, and committed themselves to see God’s will carried out.

But of all those men, only 5% were termed mighty. When it comes to God’s kingdom, I want to be on the cutting edge. I want to be in the mighty category. It’s my hope that you want that distinction as well.

Most of Israel was clueless as to what was happening around them at that time. It’s the same in our generation. Much of the church has no idea about the spiritual climate, or what God is planning on doing.

Then again, many are like the 600. They’re onboard with what God is doing, but they’re just following orders. Then there were the 30 mighty men; but even with them we mostly only know their names.

We’re only told the details about five of these men. That’s less than 1%. That’s where we should desire to be. We should strive to be in the upper echelon of God’s warriors.

When my time on earth is done, I want my angels to talk about me. I want them to have some exciting war stories to share with their friends.

“Let me tell you about the guy we were watching. More than once we had a fight on our hands. It was always exciting being with him.”

In my next post I’m going to begin talking about what it takes to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Who are these mighty men, and what did it take for them to accomplish great things?

Question: How far are you willing to go to advance the cause of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Worship – The Spiritual Transporter

ThroneThe ability to worship Christ is one of the greatest gifts that we’ve been given. In the past I’ve talked about true worship. It takes place when we enter God’s presence. It doesn’t matter where we are on earth; it’s our position in the spirit that counts.

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect…
Hebrews 12:22-23

When we begin to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, it’s like we’re being transported before His throne. As we enter into worship, we find that we’re a part of two groups.

First, we’re a part of the church of Jesus Christ on the earth.

For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Colossians 2:5

We find that it’s through worship that the body of Christ is brought into unity. That’s why Scripture calls it the unity of the spirit. When we pray in the spirit, we’re united with the Holy Spirit. Of course, if we’re united with God’s Spirit, then we are also united with each other.

But there’s another group that I find myself with when I worship. According to the above verse, I’m with the spirits of righteous men made perfect. I believe that it’s talking about those who have passed on and are now in the Lord’s presence.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We are worshipping with the saints on earth and in heaven.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.
Revelation 4:4

When I come before God’s throne to worship Him, I’m together with believers from both the Old and New Testaments. It’s a mind-blowing thought – that I can enter the universal chorus of worship that surrounds the Lord’s throne.

Some people are just waiting for the day that they can be a part of this heavenly worship. Little do they know that they can enter it right now, wherever they are.

Take advantage of this great gift. Enter the Lord’s presence in spirit and truth. Allow yourself to be caught up in the unity that only comes from being with Him.

Question: How often do you set aside to worship Christ in the spirit?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Spiritual Investigations

magIn my last post I started talking about the spiritual Christian. We were looking at a verse that the apostle Paul wrote.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

My last statement was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated. You may wonder why I used the word investigate when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case. It’s the investigation stage of the trial. Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things. On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out. It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer. They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I have taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God. Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them. Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from. I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it. What study books do you use?”

The soulish Christian just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit. They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord. A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He has made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English. The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used. What he literally said was who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That is a very powerful question. He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord. All the answers that we need are right within our grasp, if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life. This is why we need to daily live in the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift. Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Truth about Mountaintops – Clarity

 

ViewIn my last post I talked about how to climb to a spiritual mountaintop. You don’t just magically wake up there one day. You have to be intentional about doing the daily things that you know to do.

Today I want to expose another myth many people have about these spiritual peaks. They usually equate a mountaintop experience as an emotional high – a very happy time. As I said last time, you need to understand the physical to grasp the spiritual.

I’ve climbed many mountains, but I haven’t always been happy when I got to the top. I remember one time in particular when I fell and got a bad sprain on the trail. The only way back to the nearest road required me to continue up and over two mountains.

When I made it to the summit I was tired, hurting and very frustrated. In spite of this, what I found on the top was still the same as always. There’s something that happens that causes you to stop and take it in.

The defining characteristic of a mountaintop is this – clarity. Usually you get an unobstructed 360 degree view that goes on for miles. This is what being on the mountaintop is all about.

It’s the same for the spiritual. As we go through our daily routines, as boring and monotonous as they are sometimes, suddenly the view opens up. We hear from the Holy Spirit. We get a vision of where God is taking us to.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

The revelation talked about here is not for those who simply live for themselves with no thought to the spirit walk. God reveals His plan to those who through their daily walk with Christ climb this mountain of revelation. They’re the ones who see God’s plan for their lives.

There is one catch, however. When I stand on a mountaintop I can see the next few mountains that the trail will cross. What I can’t see is the trail itself. In spite of the great view, I don’t know the exact route I’ll take to get there. All I know is that if I stay on the trail, I’ll get to my destiny.

Another plus of mountaintop clarity is that you can see where you came from. There are times when we think that God is taking us the wrong way. But looking back from the peak I can see that there was a lake that I had to go around – that’s why it took so long. It’s always good to realize why God took you the way He did. It inspires faith for the future.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
Ephesians 1:17

God’s will is for all believers to live at this level of spiritual insight. This clarity in the spirit is a wonderful thing. Once you’ve experienced it, you don’t want to lose it. So remember, mountaintops are not about being happy, but having a clear vision of where the Lord’s bringing you to.

Question: How clear is your vision of your destiny in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Revival

 

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