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God keeps his promises

Editor's Note

About the author: Amy Crispin is the director of children's ministries at ZPC. She partners with parents at ZPC to create a great experience for ZPC kids in grades 1-4. She has served at ZPC since 2006, but has been attending ZPC since 2002! Amy is married to Matt and they have 4 kids: Natalie, Tommy, Charlie, and Andy.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. 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.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3:1-4

Read: Malachi 3:1-4
Say: "The name Malachi means my messenger.”

God had a message for his people. Malachi reminded the people that God loved them. The Jewish people were surprised at Malachi’s message because they said, “How have you loved us?” We don’t know why the Jewish people felt like God didn’t love them. Maybe they felt like God didn’t love them because the Messiah had not come and the promises of peace and God’s blessing were not happening.

God loved his people and was very disappointed that they thought he didn’t love them. They had seen God’s power, protection, and his faithfulness to keep his promises. God always keeps his promises and never stops loving his people. God was working out his plan to send the Messiah who would rescue his people.

The Jewish people had seen God keep his promise to allow them to return to Jerusalem after 70 years of being in Babylon. He helped them rebuild the temple and the walls were rebuilt in 52 days. However, they returned to wicked, sinful behavior.

Before Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins, the Jewish people were to worship God at the temple and bring sacrifices. The sacrifices and worship at the temple were pictures pointing them to Jesus who would be the perfect sacrifice. Malachi told the people that God was going to send a messenger who would prepare the way before him.

You and I know that God kept his promise to his people to send the Messiah. The Jews thought the Messiah would set up a kingdom and rule the land. We learned in Zechariah that the Messiah would come first as a humble servant. (Zech. 9:9) Jesus came first to rescue us from our sins. He is the perfect sacrifice who shed his blood to take away all our sins. (John 1:29

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Activity:

Make a Christmas Card telling of the birth of Jesus.

  • Find the story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-20) and print on the computer.
  • Take a piece of cardstock and fold it in half.
  • Tear the story into 7 pieces, each piece a little shorter than the next so they stack on top of each other to look like a pine tree.
  • Find a star sticker or make one from paper by drawing two triangles on top of each other, one of them upside down.
  • Glue the seven pieces of paper starting with the smallest on top, finishing with the longest on bottom.
  • Tear one more piece of paper for the trunk
  • Glue the trunk on the bottom and the star on the top of the tree. 
  • On the inside, you get to be a messenger of the Good News! Tell your friend about Jesus and what he has done for us. Tell them his birthday is soon! Ask them if they’d like to celebrate with you. Maybe you could bring them to church or invite them over for snacks and games.
  • Mail your letter and don’t forget to put a return address. Maybe they’ll write you back!

Prayer:

Dear God,

Thank you for keeping your promises. Thank you for sending your son Jesus to save me. Thank you for loving me.

Help me to share with other people why I love you.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen.

Posted by Amy Crispin with

Hope in the darkness

Editor's Note

About the author: Kurt Strueh and his wife Lynn have been members at ZPC since 2003. They have 3 children, 13, 11, and 8. Kurt works as a veterinarian and is a current ZPC Elder.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. 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.

TODAY'S SCRIPTURE: Romans 8:22-25

This time of year, the days are getting shorter. It is dark when I wake up. It is dark when I get to work. It is dark when I leave work. This time of year, it seems that a cold dark veil has been placed over the entire earth. Add to this darkness the added stress of shopping for Christmas gifts, the knowledge that next months credit card bills will have those added expenses on them, plus all the holiday events that seem to have us rushing from one thing to another without taking a chance to breathe. 

According to Wikipedia, “Hope is an optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or world at large.” How do we have an “optimistic state of mind” – How do we have “HOPE” this time of year? 

This past week I heard a TED talk on NPR radio. Yes, my kids say I’m getting old because I listen to NPR radio on my commute to work. The speaker said he knew the SECRET TO HAPPINESS! He said the secret to happiness is having low expectations. His reasoning was if you have low expectations you are constantly being surprised. I have thought about that a lot this week. Do I have too high of expectations for co-workers, my children, my wife, myself, the staff at Menards, who was not able to place an order for cabinets and told me I would need to come back the next day when someone else could work the computer? (I digress.) I realized that this mentality is the opposite of hope. To have low or no expectations is actually hopelessness. Hopelessness does not equal happiness.

Take a moment to read Romans 8:22-25.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

According to Charles Ellicott “hope in the future is of the very essence of the Christian life. It is by hope that we are saved.” During this time of darkness, a bright star appeared and the shepherds followed it to Bethlehem. There they found our true hope for the future. They found a way to sustain our soul during difficult times. They found the true meaning of this season. They found a baby in a manger named Jesus. Through Jesus we all have HOPE!  

During this busy crazy season, I encourage each of us to take a moment and be still. Take a moment and look into the clear dark night for a bright star. Take a moment to think about all the blessings we have. Take a moment to have HOPE for the future.

Prayer:

Lord,
During this busy season, let us take a moment and be still. Help us to see the true meaning of this season. Help us to see the hope you gave us through your son Jesus. Please help us face any feelings of despair of anxiety with the hope you give us for the future. 
Amen

Posted by Kurt Strueh with

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