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Hope is the reward, but the price tag is servanthood.

Editor's Note

About the author: Lori, her husband Greg, and their 2 daughters, have been members at ZPC since 2015. Lori loves serving (and cooking!) as a ZPC Deacon, writing as a parent contributor to USA Today, and running her party planning business. 

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: 2 Samuel 7:18-29

I will build a house for you. 2 Samuel 7:27

I have always cherished this verse. Home conjures up so many images, doesn't it? A warm, inviting place, surrounded by those you love. There is nothing we, as humans, scramble for harder than a place to call home. Shelter is a basic need, but when we say "shelter," what we really mean is "safety." Home is a security, and a place to rest. 

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 2 Samuel 7:18 

And yet so many times in our lives, we transition through phases where we have to hang onto hope that while one "home" disappears, another will be built. I wonder if the survivors of the California Campfire are thinking, "Why God? Why did you bless me with a homestead, only to have it burn to the ground?" And the parents who have lost children to violence or drug addiction this year? How do we grapple with what feels to be senseless loss of that which we hold most precious?

So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever. 2 Samuel 7:27-29

And my answer is right here: Because God PROMISES he will build a house for me that can never burn to the ground. King David prays about being a courageous and hopeful servant, but those are hard tasks in the best of circumstances, let alone when faced with the true hardships of this world! "Servant" is written ten times in these verses, instructing me of my job title in this eternal-hope-relationship: God is my eternal hope, and I will be his servant while I am upon this earth. Unfortunately, in good times I easily become distracted by activities in and around the "home" during the Advent season, and in hard times, I'm just plain distracted. In order to maintain hope and not become depleted, I would better SERVE the Lord by making sure he's at the CENTER of my life, keeping my eye on the promise of a forever home with the Lord. Easier said than done! Godspeed, my friends! 

Activity:

Hope is the reward, but the price tag is servanthood. In this season of waiting, take time to plan for it. With intention, sit down alone or with your family, and plan out your servanthood for 2019. What are your ongoing commitments, and where do those busy seasons fall? How can that best be managed as a person and as a family functioning as a unit? What are your financial commitments for beneficence, and how can you as a servant and as a family, discuss and plan for those in the upcoming year? It's a serious responsibility to be a servant of the Lord, but it is also fun and spontaneous. Allow space for unexpected requests, both in time and in finance. When opportunities arise in 2019, you'll have a written plan that allows for commitments to be made with a sense of security that you can serve the Lord with your whole heart and mind. 

Prayer:

Lord,
Only you know which jobs are mine to do. I can look across the landscape and see many tasks, but what I hope is that you'll point me to the ones chosen by you. Please send me out to do your work, because when you're at the center of my day, hope fills me to the point of overflowing. And when my life is full of hope, joy and peace soon follow. All other paths lead to depletion and despair. Let my living show others that by being a part of God's family, we can survive and thrive in our season of waiting for your eternal promises.
Amen

Posted by Lori Fulk with

Monday, December 3 | Hope in the desert

Editor's Note

About the author: Andrew and his wife Abby joined ZPC in 2015. They have two school aged children Sam and Leah. Andrew 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: Psalm 90


The Christmas season comes to us with overwhelmingly positive messages. Joy, merry, and happy are just some of the words that fill the most well-known Christmas songs. But the reality is that Advent finds all of us in different seasons of our lives. For some of us, the warmth of the food and the lights perfectly mirrors the excitement we are experiencing.  For others, the cold and dark days better reflect the pain or sadness we feel.

As I reflect on Psalm 90, I cannot help but focus on the person to whom it is attributed: Moses. In this Psalm, Moses prays for God’s blessing, as the Israelites are wandering in the desert. In the midst of the suffering and trials they have been through, Moses still has hope that the Lord will bless them—he still hopes for the Promised Land that he will never see but that his descendants will inherit. He acknowledges God’s sovereignty and permanence compared to the insignificance of man. I’m struck by the hope of a man who has wandered in the desert without seeing the fulfillment of that promise. 

Moses’s faith is so strong that he is prominent in the heroes of the faith later in Hebrews 11: “By faith, Moses, when grown, refused the privileges of the Egyptian royal house. He chose a hard life with God’s people rather than an opportunistic soft life of sin with the oppressors. He valued suffering in the Messiah’s camp far greater than Egyptian wealth because he was looking ahead, anticipating the payoff…He had his eye on the One no eye can see, and kept right on going” (MSG).

Moses’s prayer reminds us that God is good and true, regardless of our circumstances. His prayer also reminds us that God’s timing is much different than our own. Moses’s hope was focused on the Lord, and that kept him going. As we enter Advent, I pray that our circumstances wouldn’t diminish our hope, but rather that our hope in Jesus would guide our steps. Moses’s prayer is a timely reminder that we do not find our hope in this world; our hope comes through Jesus. Moses knew his current situation was not the end of the story, and that propelled him forward.

ACTIVITY:

Take some time to reflect where you saw God at work in your life during 2018. This may have come through suffering or joy, but it is important to see God’s hand where you may not have seen it in the moment. Write this down as a remembrance to sustain you in moments of pain and doubt.

PRAYER:

Lord,
We acknowledge your faithfulness and goodness. Thank you for blessing us and sustaining us through the good and the bad. Thank you for fulfilling your promise to Moses and to us through the Promised Land and ultimately through your Son Jesus. Throughout Advent, may we be reassured of Jesus’ return and the hope that provides. 

In Jesus’ name we pray, 

Amen.

Posted by Andrew Perrin with

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