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A Christmas Eve Post

A Christmas Eve Post

Since today is Christmas Eve, I want to take a post to give a brief meditation. I believe that we need to go into these holidays with the right mindset.

Over the past few weeks, people have been frantically preparing for the “holidays”. Buying, cooking, cleaning, traveling, and a whole host of other activities. It’s no wonder that during this time of year see the most cases of depression.

In this season, we need to focus on what’s the most important. We need to be reminded of the events that took place over 2000 years ago.

To start, I want to take you back to the early 1800’s in Austria. It’s Christmas Eve, in the village of Oberndorf. A young priest named Joseph Mohr had a big problem.

Christmas Eve services always include singing. But, because of some recent flooding in the area, the church organ was broken and unable to be used.

Joseph decided that he needed a song that could be sung without an organ. He had a poem that he’d written a year before. Now he shows it to a friend named Franz Gruber.

Franz is able to put the poem to music for guitars.

That night, it was introduced to the church, sung by a male duet accompanied by guitars. Everyone loved it and was touched by the music. But, the story doesn’t end there.

The church was finally able to get their organ fixed. An organ specialist, named Karl Mauracher repaired the instrument. In the process, Joseph played the new song for him.

Needless to say, Karl loved it. As he went around repairing organs, he would share it with his customers. At one point it was heard by the Strasser family. They were traveling glove-makers, and singers.

They started singing it at fairs and it caught on with all who heard it. It has become one of the most beloved carols in the church. We know it as Silent Night. That just goes to show you that God doesn’t need Facebook, I-tunes, or YouTube for His things to go viral.

It was the same with the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary had to travel many miles from home to arrive at the town of Bethlehem.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

Our Lord was born in a place with no luxuries. The King of the universe was brought into the world with no pomp or splendor.

Yet, His message of salvation, forgiveness and hope, has spread around the world.

As you go through this Christmas season, keep the true meaning of the holiday before you. Christ should be the center of all that we do.

Have a very blessed Christmas!

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2021 in Encouragement, Music, The Gospel

 

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Baby Jesus – The Sign

Baby Jesus – The Sign

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw how God orchestrated everything so that Joseph and Mary arrived in Bethlehem. They were in the right place, at the right time, so that the Messiah would be born just as the Word of God had prophesied.

But, as we’ll see, there was more to this birth that the Lord wanted to show us.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

As I read this, it strikes me that this is such a simple statement. We’ve probably heard this many times over the years. It’s the normal quote in every Christmas message.

First, let’s dispel a few myths. The problem wasn’t that all the hotels were booked up in Bethlehem. At that point in history, there were no hotels or inns as we would define them.

They were more like AirBnB’s. There were normal people who had guest rooms available for travelers who needed a temporary place to stay. When Mary and Joseph arrived, the only thing left was a place with the livestock.

Once the child was born, they needed to keep Him warm. The only thing they had was strips of cloth – rags – that they had to delicately tie around the baby. They were doing the best they could with what they had.

But, what no one at that time realized, this was the day everything changed. Christ was born. God made flesh.

And still today, 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, an infant “mummy”. 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 sake.

Especially in this season, 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.

Question: How do you keep the truth of Christ at the center of Christmas?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Hopeless Situations

Hopeless Situations

How do you view God’s will in your life. As for me, there are times when I look at what God has spoken to me and it seems miles away from where I am. I wonder how God will ever bring to pass what He said He would. Actually, this is normal for those who follow God’s plan for their lives.

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. It’s very appropriate, because we’re now entering the holiday season where peoples’ thoughts naturally look to the birth of Christ.

Today’s post will look at Luke 2:1-5. You may want to read this section before continuing with this post.

In chapter one, we saw the angelic announcement of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth. We saw Mary going to Elizabeth’s house for a few months to prepare. Then, we saw the arrival of John. Now we fast-forward to the birth of Christ.

Luke begins chapter two with a history lesson. Caesar Augustus was the emperor of the Roman Empire. As emperors do, he wants to bring in some more revenue for his campaigns. So, he decides to tax the empire.

That means everyone needs to go to their home towns because that’s where the family lists are kept. And, of course, with taxes you don’t want to miss anyone.

We also meet a man named Joseph for the first time. He’s living in a town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee. It turns out, he’s also the man that Mary is engaged to. It seems that he’s come to terms with her pregnancy, and they’re moving forward with their plans to start a family together.

Why is all of this important? I’m glad you asked!

Everyone is waiting for the Messiah to be born. There are many Old Testament Scriptures that point to this great event. The verses even tell us where the Christ child will be born.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2

This is another important Scripture. I’ve heard people try to discredit the Biblical account by pointing out that there was more than one Bethlehem in Israel. But, the Word of God makes it clear that we’re talking about the Bethlehem that’s located in Judea, the tribal land of Judah.

Here’s the problem. Joseph and Mary are living in Nazareth. It’s the tribal land of Zebulun. That’s approximately 120 miles from where God said Messiah would be born.

If Joseph and Mary were normal Israelites, then they probably had no clue as to the location of the prophecy. In the natural, things look almost impossible for the Messiah to be born where God predicted.

But, God can move in ways that we can’t even imagine. That’s why we can trust Him to accomplish in us exactly what He say’s He will do.

The Lord moved upon the heart of Caesar.

And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Luke 2:3-4

It turns out that God is a perfect strategist. He can work through people and events to bring about His will no matter what the situation looks like. We can always fully trust the Lord to accomplish His plan in us.

120 miles might not sound like much to us, but for a pregnant woman on foot, it’s a huge distance. It had to be something of great importance to make them take this hard journey. Everything worked together for the completion of God’s will.

Question: How well do you trust God when the situation looks impossible?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Faith in Humility

Faith in Humility

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, the next section I want to look at is Luke 1:26-38. You may want to read that section of Scripture before continuing with this post.

In the last couple of posts, we saw the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah the priest. The message was that Zechariah and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, in their old age.

Because of his pride, Zechariah questioned the angel as to the truth of his message. Because of that, he couldn’t speak until the child was born.

Now, this same angel is sent with a message to a young Jewish woman named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph. She was a virgin, yet she was told that she would conceive a child without any sexual relations.

Right from the start, she was caught off guard, not only by the angel’s appearance, but his greeting to her.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:28-30

It’s at this point that we see the difference between Mary and Zechariah. This verse literally says that she was agitated and confused by his words to her. As a result, she was questioning internally and trying to figure out what this angel could possibly mean by this greeting.

Where Zechariah spoke out of his pride, Mary remained humble and kept her thoughts to herself. This makes a big difference. We need to learn this lesson. We don’t always need to say everything that’s passing through our brain.

Because of her silence, the angel could continue with his message to her.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33

In this passage, Luke begins to show us some insight into who Jesus is. He is Son of the Most High God. He’s the last king of Israel, because when He reigns, there will be no end of His kingdom. It’s obvious that Mary is being told that she will bear the long awaited Messiah.

Believing the angel’s words, Mary then asks the next logical question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

This question is very different than the question asked by Zechariah. He was looking for proof that the angel spoke the truth.

Mary, on the other hand, assumed that the message was true. She simply was curious as to how it was going to take place. Would this Son be a product of her upcoming marriage? Or, would He be the result of a miracle?

Gabriel then responds to her faith. He let’s Mary know that God is doing miraculous things. Not only in her, but in Elizabeth as well. The times were changing. Messiah was about to appear. God’s plan was going to move forward.

Her response at this point is incredible.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

I can’t even imagine the faith that she showed at his statements. She was in total surrender to God’s will for her.

There was no thought to herself. What would people think of her – pregnant outside of marriage? What would her parents say? What would Joseph, her fiance, think about this?

None of this seemed to even enter her thinking. The only thing that concerned her was to carry out God’s will. We need to walk in that same kind of faith.

Question: How would you have reacted to Gabriel’s message?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Christmas Birth

The Christmas Birth

Today is Christmas, so I decided to post some thoughts about the day.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18

This verse tells us that this is how, or literally, this is the manner in which it happened.  There’s a pattern that the Lord uses in bringing about His will.  It’s important that we see it.

First, there was an unexpected pregnancy.  This is interesting.  The pregnancy wasn’t expected.  Yet the Messiah was foretold hundreds of years before.

Just like today. God promises things, and then we forget it…or write it off.  Israel was captured and conquered many times.  Would the fulfillment ever take place?

And yet, in the fullness of time…Mary was found to be with child.

There is a supernatural announcement.  Angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph on separate occasions.

God usually doesn’t do things in the dark.  He always announces His plans.  That’s why we need to be a people who not only pray – but listen.

When the birth was imminent, it was announced to shepherds and wise men.

Then it came to pass.  What God promises, will happen.  Even though we don’t always know the how or why.

Finally, when Christ was born, there was a reception of joy.  “Joy to the world…”  He who is born must be received and with that receiving comes great joy.

God wants to do the same in us right now.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…

Galatians 4:19

God’s work in us is a birthing process.  There’s a promise.  But then – an unexpected pregnancy.

I wonder sometimes; with all the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, did they think He would just appear out of thin air?

There are many great and precious promises God has for us.  We think the same thing sometimes…that they’ll just happen.  No, there’s a process.

It involves birth pangs.  There’s breathing, pushing, work, and sweat.  They come in waves, right up until the time they’re birthed in or through us.

When you think about Christ being born in a manger…think about the same process for His will being born in us.  Wait patiently for the fullness of time – then the rejoicing.

Have a very blessed Christmas as you celebrate what Christ has done!

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2020 in Encouragement, Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Signs of Christ

The Signs of Christ

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve.  At this time of year 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 Eve!

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2020 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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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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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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