Filter By:

Thursday, Dec 21 | A familiar kindness

Editor's Note

About the author: Megan Deck is the wife of Jerry and the mom of Shaughnessy, Adelie, Wynnie, and Liesel. She has been at ZPC for almost four years and has enjoyed getting involved in the church's mission. Megan works in real estate and in her spare time loves to cook, read, and craft.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Redemption | John 21:28

When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. [NIV]

 

During the three years I was working on my master’s degree I did what most young people in need of cheap health insurance and flexibility in their schedule did at that time; I worked for Starbucks. I didn’t work at just any Starbucks though, I happened to work at one of the top 10 busiest locations in the nation. Almost every single one of my shifts was brutal. The line would be almost constantly stretched out the door and we would be scurrying around trying to serve them while trying to maintain some level of cleanliness and not run out of supplies we needed (like milk and cups!). If that wasn’t enough, the reality of working under these conditions made it very common for employees (or, “partners” as they are called) to walk off the job in the middle of a shift or to just not even show up, so we were typically short-staffed.

On a particular Saturday night, I was in the midst of one of these chaotic, short-staffed shifts when, after taking what was likely my one thousandth order of the day, I found myself face-to-face with the most beautiful sight—dear friends had stopped in to say hello! What a relief to see them, people who I knew loved me, would have grace on me, and could take my mind off all the hardship going on in my present circumstance! Stranger after stranger had been through the line, many giving harsh, impatient words to those of us brave enough to work our scheduled shift that night and so the familiar kindness in my loved ones’ faces was a welcomed experience that honestly brought tears of joy to my eyes.

This is the scene that came to my mind when I read the words of Luke 21:28. The verse comes at the end of a passage where Jesus foretells the destruction of Jerusalem during which Christians were going to face persecution, violence, and destruction. Our lives, too, will not be always be easy—there will be times of hardship, stress, and perhaps even hostility. Yet, when it gets darkest, Jesus promises he will return in order to redeem those who love him from all of their troubles; bringing peace and righting every wrong. 

In this time of Advent, we are to be a people who look for Jesus’ redemption. We look expectantly for the time in the future when he will return to Earth again. I also believe we are called to look for redemption right now in the midst of the despair of our world. We should work to train our eyes to see the presence of God and, when we catch a glimpse, to lift our heads with joy because we see the face of him who we know loves us, has grace for us, and shares in our burdens.

Prayer 

Father,

Give us eyes to see your face in the midst of our chaos and disappointment. Remind us to lift our eyes to you with joy for we know you are at work in the now and the not yet. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us.

Amen!

Posted by Megan Deck with

Wednesday, Dec 20 | White as snow

Editor's Note

About the author: RJ and his wife Libby have been members at ZPC since 2014. They have two daughters, age 9 and 6. The Pollak family has gone on the Kentucky mission trip for several years. RJ is also active in the Great Banquet community. 

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of waiting, mystery, redemption, and incarnation. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpc advent to 39970. Advent booklets are also available at the ZPC Welcome Center. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

Redemption | Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let’s settle this,”
    says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,

    they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
    they shall be like wool."

Growing up a “Chreaster,” Christmas to me was all about the glitz, glamour, parties, and presents. You know, the real important materialistic things in life. Although it was a time spent with family, it was not centered around the real joy and excitement of Christmas – the birth of our savior Jesus Christ! It wasn’t until about 4 years ago that Advent and Christmas became a much more important and personal time for me – much different than it ever was before. In my family, the excitement leading up to December 25th is no longer centered around materialistic things. It is now centered around the joy and excitement of getting to celebrate the birth of a baby long ago in Bethlehem.

Isaiah 1:18 and this third week of Advent, focus on redemption. Redemption is something I have struggled with in the past, but I am sure I am not alone here. In Isaiah 1:18, we read about God taking all of our ugly sins in life and washing them away, making us pure and white as snow. Is there a more beautiful picture of God's forgiveness? This is the redemption promised by the prophet Isaiah.

We often feel ourselves outside the boundaries of God’s grace. We think we have gone too far; we have strayed away too long; we have committed too many sins. But God has given us every reason to believe in him. Give up your sins to God, let them all go. Let him take them, and he will wash them away. This is a great promise indeed, assuring us that no matter how much sin has stained our souls, God can cleanse us completely and make us stand before him as his holy people. Remember Emmanuel – God with us? God tells us through the profit Isaiah right here in 1:18 – “Come now, let us settle the matter.” He settles it once and for all. He is with us indeed as he washes away our scarlet red sins.

This is the good news; this is the gospel. It looks forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus and the shedding of his blood. His taking our place that God might put our sins upon him and enable Jesus to give us the gift of righteousness, so that our hearts will be changed. Selfishness is not taken away but it is overcome by the gift of love.

Posted by RJ Pollak with

12345678910 ... 4041