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Christmas Eve Excitement

The countdown started well before Thanksgiving, and with each passing day, the excitement and preparations for its arrival have been accelerating.  Lights and decorations have been put up, stores are full, and music is filling the air.

A lot of people, especially children, are eagerly anticipating a very special event that will take place tonight.  Truly, it’s a very busy time of the year!

And it’s all in preparation for what?  Well, any child can tell you – “A visit from Santa Claus, of course!”

And remember, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! You better not pout, you better not cry – you better watch out, I’m telling you why – Santa Claus is coming to town!”

Maybe some, but not me.

The One I’m waiting for won’t be coming from the North Pole and riding in a sleigh.  Instead, He’s coming from Heaven, and arriving on the clouds of the sky!  Millions all over the world are waiting for His arrival.

He will also be bringing gifts with Him.  The good news is that His gifts are not based on how good I’ve been, but by His grace.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Take the time today to consider Jesus…to get excited about His coming.

I think that it’s fun to watch the excitement grow on the faces of our children as Christmas approaches.  With each passing day the grins grow, the adrenaline level rises, and the expectation almost bursts from every pore.

We should be even more excited!  Children are excited about the coming of a round man in a red suit with toys tucked under his arm.  You and I can be excited about the coming of Jesus Christ, dressed in all His radiance and riding the clouds of heaven.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

Every eye will see Him!  Not just a private return.  But when?  We know when the Christmas deadline is.  We like to be ready.

But with Christ, we only know that He’s coming, not when.  Actually – He told us that He’d arrive when we aren’t expecting Him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that Jesus is coming to town.  I don’t know the hour or the day.  I don’t know much, but there’s one thing I do know – He’s coming to town!

He’s coming back for those who’ve received Him as King and Lord of their life.  When He comes back there’ll be no mistaking Him.  He won’t be riding on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer.  He’ll be riding the clouds of Heaven and His radiance will flood the universe.

Where’s your excitement level this Christmas?  Are you overburdened by your list of things “to do” which seems twice as long as your children’s “wish list?”

Are you excited about seeing what you’ll find under the tree on Christmas morning?  Are you excited to see family and friends that you haven’t been with for some time?

Or…are you excited because the Lord is coming to town?

Have a blessed Christmas holiday!

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 24, 2018 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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Jesus – The Best Gift

PresentI want to wish everyone a blessed Christmas holiday as we celebrate the birth of our Lord. As I said in my last post, He went through the same things we experience. We looked at this verse in Hebrews…

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:8-9

He had to experience everything we do; even the need to obey our authorities. It’s very hard to imagine what He went through. As a child, Jesus had to obey His parents, even when they were wrong, and He truly knew better.

That’s something for us to think about, especially when we find ourselves having to submit to imperfect and ungodly leaders. The Lord learned obedience by submitting His very life to the Father. It was only along that path that He could become the source of our deliverance.

…He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 6:20b

He became our High Priest. The High Priest is the one who goes before God the Father on our behalf.

That’s what we truly need to understand. Even though we’re celebrating His birth, He’s not a baby anymore. That’s something we have to get a grip on this season.

The Lord Jesus Christ is a priest that’s beyond the priests of Israel. He entered the sanctuary of heaven with His own blood. He became the Author of our salvation.

Such a high priest meets our need– one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
Hebrews 7:26

Because of His submission, He was able to fully meet our needs. He is holy – set apart, like no other. The Lord is blameless – without fault of any kind, cannot be accused of anything. He’s pure – untainted by sin and perfectly walking the path of righteousness.

Jesus humbly took the lowest place, but is now exalted to the highest place. This is the God we serve.

Christmas is all about Christ. Remember the One that’s the focus of this holiday and celebrate it with His gift in mind.

Question: What do you do to keep the focus on Christ during Christmas?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2015 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk

 

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God Became Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week especially, many people are thinking about the Christmas holiday. It’s funny to me how it stirs up so much controversy.

Here and there you see the scenes of the season. A humble stable with animals and a

manger. Why does it offend and anger a lot of people? After all, it’s only a father, a mother, and her child.

The problem is what it means to the human race. The writer of Hebrews gives us the truth behind this simple picture.

You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor.
Hebrews 2:7

God became man. He humbled Himself in ways we could never imagine. The Creator of the universe needed to have His diapers changed. He had to depend upon his parents to feed and clothe Him. That’s what He willingly chose in order to save us from our sin.

The all-powerful One clothed Himself in our weakness.

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:17

For this reason, He became like us. In the summertime I see ants all over the place. Sometimes they’re just a nuisance. What God did for us would be like me becoming an ant in order to communicate to other ants. I would have to eat what they eat and live where they live. That’s not a very appealing thought to me.

Think about what it meant to Christ. He got tired, hungry, frustrated, and angry. He had to deal with the enemy as a man – as someone weaker in the flesh. That’s why He alone is worthy to be our advocate, and our judge.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:8-9

This is one of the characteristics of the Lord that amazes me. The God of the universe – the highest authority there is – learned obedience through suffering.

Please understand what this means when it says He became perfect. That word means to become mature. He was always perfect in the sense of His sinlessness. What He had to learn was the maturing process that all humans must go through.

In my next post I’ll talk about this in a little more detail. My desire is that it will give us a little more insight into the holiday that we celebrate.

Question: What amazes you about the birth of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Encouragement, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Sign

One WayWe have entered what is traditionally thought of as the Christmas season. During this time we think about what the birth of Christ means to us. As I was meditating on it, this verse came to mind.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

This is a prophecy about the Messiah being born of a virgin. We sometimes hear it read during this season.

As wonderful as this verse is, it’s even richer when you know the whole story. I believe in the importance of context. So I want to talk about how this prophecy came about.

King Uzziah was one of the greatest kings of Judah. He served God faithfully and gained victory after victory. One of his failures was that he didn’t remove the high places where people worshiped other gods in Israel.

Then one day, in an act of pride, he decided that he was holy enough to burn incense in the temple. Because of this, he was struck with leprosy until the day of his death.

Then Uzziah’s son Jotham became king. He served God and kept the status quo. Just like his father, he didn’t remove the high places. During his rule, Israel and the nation of Aram start to attack Judah.

After Jotham, Ahaz became king. He didn’t serve God at all. He actually worshipped at the high places. Then Israel and Aram begin to step up their attacks. Judah is in absolute fear over this.

It’s at this point in their history that God sends the prophet Isaiah with a Word for Ahaz.

“Say to him, ‘Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood — because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah.’”
Isaiah 7:4

Isaiah prophesies about victory. But then he says something interesting.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
Isaiah 7:10-11

This is absolutely incredible. He is told to ask anything, even to the point of raising the dead. That rarely happens.

We serve a God of signs. A sign, in Scripture, means a signal – like traffic signals. A sign is a signal of God’s will.

Stop, do not enter, one way. It’s one of the things God uses to make sure we’re on track.

The world is full of signs. We were given the sun, moon and stars. God has established them as signs for times and seasons. A rainbow is a sign to remind us of God’s covenant.

I want to take a few posts to talk about supernatural signs, and how they fit into the plan of God for us.

Question: Can you think of any other signs that God has used?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Will Your Gift to God be Returned? #greatestgift

PresentThe Christmas season is in full swing!  The stores are full of shoppers.  The TV is all about buying presents for people.  With all the hype going on around us; do we really understand giving?

I’m talking about what we give to God.  No, I’m not going to ask for an offering.  I’m thinking about how willing we are to give.

There are some things that we’re more willing to give than others.  Many are willing to give some time to the Lord on Sundays as well as a couple of hours during the week.  There are a lot of believers who give ten percent of their income to the work of God.

Here’s the problem.  Am I giving what God is asking for?  If not, then all my works count for nothing.

Is it any different than our Christmas experience?  We all get presents that we don’t want.  Check out the exchange lines the day after Christmas and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  No one wants to give a gift that gets returned.

How much more important is it to you, that God doesn’t return your gift?  We need to know what He’s looking for in a gift.

Actually, we can get some insight from the enemy.  Satan made an interesting statement while he was accusing Job before God.

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.”
Job 2:4

If anyone knows us well, it’s the devil.  After centuries of watching us, he came to this conclusion.

That’s how we know the value of the greatest gift God asks of us.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:25-26

Jesus taught the same thing.  A man will sell everything he has to save his life.  It’s the most precious possession we own.

That’s why it’s also the greatest gift we can give to God.  In reality, God doesn’t want your time or money if it’s just a replacement for you.  The Lord wants you.

This season, while we think about all the things we’re getting for others, don’t forget the highest name on the list.  Make it your first priority to give yourself fully to Christ.  Then, everything else will fall into place.

Question: How far are you willing to go for the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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Birth of Christ…A Sign of Things to Come

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s Christmas Eve.  Our thoughts turn to the Child born in a stable in Bethlehem.

This is the day everything changed.  Christ was born.  God made flesh.

And yet, many people miss the significance of the events that occurred that day.  Sometimes the smallest detail can make a world of difference.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:8-12

At night in Bethlehem, everyone was asleep in their beds.  Well, not everyone.  There was a group of people who couldn’t sleep.  They had a job to accomplish.  They were shepherds watching over a flock of sheep.

Suddenly the unexpected occurred.  They had a supernatural encounter.  An angel showed up with an important message for them.  The Christ was born.

But more than that – there was a sign.  That means there was a special thing they were to look for to prove they were in the right place.  A baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.

This sign to the shepherds was more than just proof for them.  It was a sign of things to come.  This baby was placed in a manger – not a crib or cradle.  A manger is a fancy way of saying a feeding trough for livestock.  It’s a place for animal food, not babies.

Yet this was the “Bread of Heaven” who came down to give us life.  So for Christ, this was an appropriate resting place for Him.  The Bread of Life lying in a feeding trough.

The strips of cloth were another sign. It wasn’t the normal kind of baby clothes of that day.  Strips of cloth were used to clothe the dead, not the living.  This baby was dressed as a corpse.  Again – it was a sign of things to come.

Here was the Lamb of God.  He has come to take our place on the cross.  Even as a baby, His calling was revealed.  Death, burial, resurrection and ascension – all for our sakes.

On this great day, amid all the activities and excitement you may find around you, don’t lose sight of the signs.  This child we celebrate is no longer a baby.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is our Life and Light.  This season is all about Him.

Have a Blessed and Wondrous Christmas!

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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