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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

Sunday, Dec 2 | God's message of hope

Editor's Note

About the author: Scott Shelton is ZPC's associate pastor of discipleship. He and his wife Claire have been at ZPC for 24 years! They have a son and daughter in college and twin sons, who are high school sophomores.

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: Jeremiah 33

Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world. We can see it in our daily news. In Jeremiah 33, we read that ancient Israel had trouble in their world.  They were besieged by the Babylonians where there was anger, death, and the sword. The situation looked like one without hope. It was hope-less.

But God would not leave the people in the place of trouble. Jeremiah brings a message of hope. He promised redemption from the Babylonians. The ancient Jewish people were looking for a Messiah, a Savior. We too see trouble and need hope. We need the Messiah, the Savior, to come again this Christmas. The Messiah brings hope in times of trouble, peace that passes understanding, and joy that comes in the morning. 

In my own family this fall, there has been loss and sadness, mourning and exhaustion. I have been reminded and my family has been reminded that we need Jesus desperately, just like everyone else. We long to see the goodness of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the hope of Jesus. We need this season to sing again the old carols; to gather with family and to hear the messages of hope, peace, and love; and to hear again that God has a plan for our future.

God promises to Jeremiah that God’s people will have healing, peace, and security; that they will be brought back from captivity; and that they will be forgiven from sin and rebellion.

Paul also has a message of hope 1 Thessalonians 3. He calls us to pray for each other and to see the love of Jesus, so that our “love would increase and overflow for each other and everyone else.”

We all need that overflowing love and hope. We need to be brought back from the captivity of our own sin and rebellion. We need hope from the pain of this world. We need the hope that only God can bring with the coming of the Messiah. We desire for all of our best Christmas wishes to come true: to experience joy, peace, love, healing, and to experience the presence of God.

While my family has experienced pain, we have also seen God at work – through you. Through your prayers, meals, hugs, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness too numerous to count. We are humbled and grateful. As we look forward to Christmas, to the coming of Jesus, we too can pray for our families, our friends, and our communities – we need to pray for hope. We need to see God at work – to see Jesus! God is a God of Hope. This season, place your hope in Jesus – “for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” (Jeremiah 33:11)

Activity:

Reflect on God’s promises in these passages: hope, joy, peace, forgiveness, love, security, healing.  Which of these do you need the most? Now pray to receive that gift for yourself from God.

Now think of one other person who needs the hope of God, or the joy, peace, security or healing of God.  Pray for that person.  And think of one action you can do to help bring about God’s kingdom this month by sharing hope, peace, joy, or love.

Prayer:

O God of Jeremiah and Paul,
I too am grateful that despite the troubles of this world, you are there with us; you are Emmanuel.  Despite the troubles I have, and that we all have, you promise to walk with us.  We believe in you. In this beautiful season of anticipation, help us to place our hope in You, the one who is trustworthy and true. Provide for us what we need – your security, your joy, your peace, your love, your hope. We ask for your help. We love you. We thank you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Posted by Scott Shelton with

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