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.
The 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…
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!
© 2017 Nick Zaccardi
Tags: birth of Messiah, Christ, Christmas thoughts, devotion, Jesus, promise, promises of God
This will be my last post in my series about the Last Day’s weeding that the Lord will perform in His Kingdom. Jesus went on to underscore this message by telling another parable.
“Once again the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into a lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Lord tells us that the kingdom is like a net let down into a lake. This net has been dredging the lake for 2000 years now. It has caught a variety of fish. Some of the fish are good and some are bad.
There are people who claim to be Christians yet know nothing of the Biblical means of salvation. They’re relying on their own good works or their church membership instead of the blood of the crucified, buried, and risen Lord.
There are many that have heard and rejected the Good News because they like their own version better. They say things like, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe in something.” The church universal is full of good fish and bad fish.
So what’s new about that? It’s been like this for hundreds of years. It will not go on like this forever. God is starting a separation process.
When the net is full, or literally, complete and finished, something new is going to happen. Angels are going to be dispatched to separate out of the kingdom of God those who really don’t want to be there on God’s terms. The word separate means to set off by a boundary.
In the last days God is going to perform a supernatural work that makes a clear distinction between His people and the world. Right now the church and the world look very much alike. Divorce, abuse, crime, and substance abuse levels are almost equal.
The end of the age is the time set by the Lord to cleanse His Temple. He’s going to show that there’s a difference between His kingdom and the world. It will soon become impossible to straddle the fence.
If you’re wise, you’ll make your decision now to serve Christ wholeheartedly. Don’t wait until the weeding forces you to make up your mind. Don’t miss out on a single thing that the Lord has planned for you.
We live in exciting times. If you go all out for the Lord, then I can promise you that you’ll be a part of the greatest adventure the world has ever known.
Question: How different should we be from the world?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: angels, Biblical salvation, Christ, cleansing the temple, devotion, distinction, end of the age, Jesus, kingdom of God, parable, separating fish, separation, separation process, serving Christ, straddle the fence, the last days, the world, wholeheartedly, works
The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
I sometimes wonder what might have been running through Abram’s mind as he was listening to the Lord? These are some incredible promises that he was given. God says that He will make Abram’s family into a great nation. He also promises to make Abram famous and to bestow a blessing upon whoever helps him.
But the toughest part, at least for me, would be to step out based on this simple statement. Our first reaction today is: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”
We need to be more like Abram. We must stop assigning God the role of the Madison Avenue hustler, whose only goal is to get your money into his pocket by selling you something you don’t need.
God knows and wants only the best for our lives. His Word contains everything we need for an abundant life. All we need to do is to accept it as true. If we embrace God’s Word as truth, then we will not be afraid to step out on it.
Spend some time today meditating upon the truth of God’s Word to you. Maybe there are some things you have never obeyed because of fear. Use this day to settle the matter before God.
Tags: Abraham, Abram, abundant life, blessing, destiny, devotion, disciple, faith, God's faithfulness, God's will, promise, promises, trust
“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken.”
Sunrise is a very special time of day. It is then that the dark, gray, formless world suddenly bursts with color, shape, and sound. I consider it a privilege to be able to wake up with the dawn. Just to see the blazing colors of the rising sun, to smell the earthy fragrance of the fresh morning dew, and to hear the chatter of the forest creatures as they begin their work in the new day is an experience that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.
This should humble us as human beings. Just to think that this ritual of nature has been repeating itself since creation, and yet we have absolutely no control over it. The rising and the setting of the sun was set by God ages ago and is far outside the realm of our power and authority.
Don’t miss the opportunity to thank God for this new day. Each one is a blessing from Him. It is a gift from His hand, and we never know what it will bring until we walk it out. Start each new day with adoration, praise, and thanksgiving to the Lord. In that way you will have established it on a firm foundation. What you do at this critical time will set the direction and atmosphere for the rest of your day. Make good use of each one.
Tags: adoration, Bible, Christian, dawn, devotion, encouragement, glory, God's faithfulness, holy worship, humble, humility, joy, morning, new day, praise, prayer, sunrise, thank God, thanksgiving
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
This is one of the most important areas of your life. It will either make or break you. It’s always interesting to see what people do with their “down time”. I’m talking about the time during the day that you’re not having to concentrate on what you are doing.
This is the time that you’re getting dressed, driving to work, or doing other things that don’t require a lot of thought. These are times where you have nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company. Using the time wisely can be very challenging.
Of course, with many people, this time is filled by their I-pod, radio, or cell phone. The last thing this society wants is to think too deeply. Like it or not, we need to take the time to think about important issues.
It has become abundantly clear to me through the Word of God and my own experience that what you meditate on during these times will ultimately shape your character. If you are to achieve the maximum benefit from this, then you need to focus on what is spiritual – the Word of God, God’s calling on your life, and songs of praise and worship.
As these thoughts start to fill your mind, a change starts to take place in your heart. You start to be drawn upward to God. This idle time will now become a time of spiritual growth, renewal, and refreshing.
Take the opportunity today to turn off the external “noise”. Begin to steer your thoughts toward the things of the Lord. Discover the power you need for living as you fill your heart with the only thoughts that can bring lasting change to your life.
Tags: Bible, character, Christian, deep thought, destiny, devotion, distractions, down time, driving, encouragement, focus, getting dressed, growth, meditate, meditation, praise, renewal, spiritual, think, thought life
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Most of us like to be helped. When facing a difficult challenge, even a word of encouragement can go a long way.
If you are like most people, then you have relied upon help at one time or another. Scripture teaches us that part of showing gratefulness is taking the blessing you received and passing it on to someone else. It can be anything – a kind word, food, a ride, or a helping hand carrying things. If it is done in obedience to God’s Word, it’s powerful and life changing.
What we need to start realizing is that even though all these good things came through the people around us, God originated them. All the blessings that we receive come from the Lord’s hand. It’s in thankfulness to Him that we are willing to pass a blessing on to someone else.
Look for an opportunity, today, to be a blessing to someone. Do something unexpected. Take the good things you have received from God and pass them on to someone around you. The Lord will see to it that some day, in some way, you will be rewarded for your act of gratefulness to Him.
Tags: Bible, Christian, Christian witness, devotion, encouragement, goodness, gratefulness, help, helpful, obedience, problems, testimony, thankfulness, unexpected kindness
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.
Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
When the temple was established in Jerusalem, no gentile could ever enter it, no matter how devout they were. Temple worship was the exclusive right of the nation of Israel.
Things are different now. Because of what Christ has done, all nations may now enter the invisible, holy temple of God. We can now climb the heights to His very presence. What was formerly impossible is now accessible by grace.
It is now possible to sit at the feet of the Lord and allow Him to teach you His ways. Even when the temple was open to Israel, only the priests had that privilege. Now, because of the cross, we can all experience the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Make that climb today, to the top, to the mountain of God’s temple. Approach the majestic presence of the Creator of all things. Worship at His feet, for He is worthy to receive it. Wait on Him, for His Spirit to move upon your heart. Lives are forever changed up on that mountain. Let yours be one of them.
Tags: accessible, Bible, calling, changed lives, Christ, Christian, cross, devotion, disciple, encouragement, fellowship, glory, God's temple, higher, holy, Holy Spirit, holy temple, holy worship, intimacy, invisible, Jesus Christ, mountain, power, praise, prayer, presence of the lord, revival, temple, victory
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
In this passage, the Word of God is compared to a double-edged sword. The Word of God is sharp enough to cut through all your barriers to get to the real you. It knows where you live. It will find you and you cannot hide from it. People try to run from the Word, but it catches up with them.
Once the Word of God is sown into your heart it’s inescapable. As we walk through our everyday lives, we find that the world is alive with testimonies to God’s truth. The Word of God opens your eyes to them all around you. The Holy Spirit can speak sermons to you throughout the day.
Once activated in a person’s life, the Word cannot be stopped. It will achieve that for which God empowered it. Just think of the effect it will have if we yield to its power. If I line my ways up with God’s ways, I will see a greater degree of transformation taking place in a shorter time.
Don’t fight it. Let the Word of the Lord do its work in your life. Don’t go a day without prayerfully reading a portion of Scripture. After you’ve done that, then meditate on it throughout the day. It is life-changing. Apply it to your life, and see the difference it will make.
Tags: Bible, Christian, devotion, encouragement, God's will, God's word, Holy Spirit, meditate, meditation, power, prayer, prepare, presence of the lord, Scripture, strength, sword, testimony, transformation, trust, victory, word, word of God
Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them.
When walking through the desert, water is a great necessity. The effects of dehydration can be severe. In the above verse, Israel found themselves having to trust God for their most basic needs.
Sometimes in life we go through wilderness experiences. In the natural we can plan ahead to have the necessary food and water. But in our life-journey we occasionally run into unexpected droughts. These are the times we must trust God to feed our souls.
Grumbling and complaining about the situation that we find ourselves in is not the way out. The solution is to walk in faith. We know God will not fail us – He will see us through. Why then would we want to wallow in self pity, when in reality, that only makes matters worse?
You must seek the Lord, especially if you are going through a hard time right now. Spend some time in His presence, and obtain spiritual refreshment. Let Him strengthen your inner man. Renew yourself before His throne. In that way you will always have an abundant supply, no matter how bad the situation.
Tags: Bible, Christian, complaining, destiny, devotion, distractions, drought, encouragement, faith, fear, God's faithfulness, grumbling, overcoming, power, prayer, presence of the lord, problems, refresh, renewal, revival, self pity, spiritual, strength, trust, victory, wilderness
II Kings 1:9-10
Then he sent to Elijah a captain with his company of fifty men. The captain went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “Man of God, the king says, ‘Come down!'”
Elijah answered the captain, “If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!” Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.
There is a peace that comes from being on a mountaintop, or even a hilltop. It seems easier to seek the Lord in these places. The sights and sounds all combine together to make your spirit more open to God. Elijah was in such a place. He realized that the place of prayer was a place of power before God.
Sometimes, in our Christian walk, we experience a spiritual mountaintop. It is a place where God gives us special clarity about what’s ahead. It is an intimate place with the Lord and usually we don’t want it to end too quickly.
In this verse the king ordered Elijah to come down from his mountaintop. He even sent a contingent of soldiers to move Elijah off of his God-given assignment. Unfortunately for the captain and his men, the power of God worked to remove the distraction from the prophet’s path.
In our daily lives, it is the distractions of society that order us out of the presence of the Lord. We need to learn to remain on the mountain (at least in our hearts). If we can continue our focus on the Lord. Then, even when we must leave the place of prayer, His peace still remains.
Take the time today to find that place of peace with the Lord. Spend quality time in His presence, then continue to meditate upon Him throughout the day.
Tags: Bible, Christian, clarity, devotion, distractions, Elijah, encouragement, enemies, fellowship, intimacy, meditate, mountain, mountaintop, peace, power, power of God, prayer, presence of the lord, spiritual mountaintop, strength, trust, victory