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Ready or not, the Christmas
season is upon us. For many, this is
the busiest andmost stressful time
of the year, with so many events,
parties, family commitments, end
of year responsibilities at work,
and the list goes on. I know for me,
I get so busy each December that
the weeks from Thanksgiving to
New Year’s seem to pass by in the
blink of an eye.
This year, I am purposing to
not allow Christmas to pass me
by
without
taking
the
opportunity to consider its true
significance: that God came
down and dwelt among us and, in
doing so, changed everything.
Under a curse
In the Old Testament of the
Bible, we read endless verses about
God’s blessings on obedience and
his punishment and curses for
disobedience. At that time, before
Jesus arrived on the scene, God’s
people were bound to follow his
613 laws – to the letter – or face
certain punishment and even
death.
You see, before the miracle of
the incarnation (Jesus coming to
earth in the flesh as a human), the
lawwas the only way God allowed
men to be in right standing with
him. If you wanted God to hear
your prayers, or were seeking any
sort of blessing or favor from him,
you had to keep yourself squeaky
clean at all times. And, when you
did mess up, righting your wrong
always involved death; either the
sacrificial death of an animal to
make payment for your sin, or
your own death if the law said that
your sin was too great to be
forgiven.
The Apostle Paul sums it up
well when he says, “But those who
depend on the law to make them
right with God are under his
curse, for the Scriptures say,
‘Cursed is everyone who does not
observe and obey all the
commands that are written in
God’s Book of the Law.’”’
(Galatians 3:10). Imagine living
your entire life knowing that you
would face horrible punishment
for making a mistake or
committing a sin. Sure sounds like
a cursed existence to me.
Jesus changed it all
But then, Jesus came. The all-
powerful, all-knowing, holy,
righteous God of the universe
entered humanity as a humble
baby boy on a mission to fulfill the
inflexible demands of the law,
perfectly, once and for all. God
knew that we needed rescue and
took it upon himself to enter into
this broken world, live a perfect
life and die a sacrificial death in
our place.
Why is this so significant?
Because Jesus not only lived the
perfect life that we will never be
able to, but died to pay for all of the
times that we domess up andmiss
the mark of perfection. Then, as
the ultimate gift, he offers his
perfection to us totally free of
charge with no expectation of
repayment. For those who place
their trust and faith in him, this
means that we no longer have to
live our lives in fear of
punishment or rejection by
God. Instead, God now looks at
us as completely justified before
him; “just as if I’d” never sinned,
and just as if I’d always obeyed.
All of this because God chose to
come down and dwell with us,
the very reason we celebrate
Christmas in the first place.
Don’t miss it
Now I know I’ve gotten a little
theological so far, but I hope you’ve
hung in there long enough for me
to tie this all together. The
amazingly great news for all of us
this Christmas is that the free gift of
right standing before God is
available to any person who will
simply receive it.Many try tomake
it so complicated when it’s really
quite simple: we are sinful, God is
holy, and coming to Jesus is the one
and onlyway to bemade right with
God once and for all.
But don’t miss this: whether
you are a Christian or not, it is so
important to understand that no
amount of right doing can make
you right with God. The Bible tells
us that even the things that we do
that are “righteous” amount to
nothing more than a pile of dirty
rags when compared to the
holiness of God (Isaiah 64:6). Don’t
fall into the trap of believing that
you are a “good” person – or a
good, strong, committedChristian
– and that God owes you
something for your goodness. The
reality is that Jesus is our only hope,
and that if we’re not standing onhis
righteousness, we’re standing on
quicksand (Matthew 7:26-27).
This Christmas, I pray that
you will join me in purposing to
remember the wonder that God
came down to offer us the gift of
right standing before him.
Without this –without Jesus – life
all adds up to nothing.
So enjoy your gifts, enjoy your
families and enjoy all that this
season brings, but, above all, I hope
that you experience of the joy that
comes from the righteousness
purchased for you by Jesus. “Oh,
what joy for those whose
disobedience is forgiven, whose sin
is put out of sight!” (Psalm 32:1).
If you want to know more
about what it means to know
Jesus and to experience new life
in him, please email me. I would
love to connect you with
someone on our team to talk
with you, pray with you, and help
you experience God in a way you
may never have before.
A native of sunny South Florida,
Nicole Oliva joined forces with the
Good News over four and half
years ago and has served as
Editor-in-Chief for the past three
years. She has a heart for
reaching out to the next
generation and is passionate
about topics such as human
trafficking and teen issues. To
contact Nicole please email her
at: nicoleo@goodnewsfl.org.
>
The Best Christmas Gift
- Nicole Oliva -
Good News - Broward Edition
2 December 2013
EDITOR
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