Filter By:
Showing items filed under “Advent 2017”

Tuesday, Dec 19 | Redemption in a tiny package

Editor's Note

About the author: Brian is a child of God and he and his wife Cynthia have been members at ZPC for 1 year, returning after an 8 year hiatus. Brian is a business owner in the Village in Zionsville and enjoys golf, racquetball, and going on traveling adventures with Cynthia.

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 | Matthew 19:16-22

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “ ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

 

I love Christmas! 

I have worked retail jewelry for more than 30 years so Christmas is like my Super Bowl. When the Christmas season gets here, I have to get into a certain mindset. It's a kind of girding up; a preparation that the season is going to be long and tiring. But at the end of it I will have made a lot of people very happy with that special something. I will have done my job or, now that I own my own business, achieved my passion and I love it!

I love our themes here at ZPC in Advent of waiting and mystery and, finally, redemption. 

I love the waiting as if it’s the anticipation of a child on, well....Christmas Eve. It’s a breathless expectation because even though we don’t know what’s going to be under that tree, we know it’s going to be something special. 

I love the mystery of billions of galaxies or the Pillars of Hercules thrown into the heavens by a Creator. I am filled with wonder and humility every time I look up at a clear night sky or consider the mystery of a babe to save the world.

Ahh, the babe. Redemption. Our waiting and mystery and redemption in a nice 8 pound 4 ounce package. 

Our friend in the Bible verse above wanted to skip the waiting and solve the mystery, all the while totally missing that it was Redemption he was searching for. It was too easy, yet eternally hard. “What must I do?” He asks, “to get eternal life?” He could check all the boxes of law abiding. It was too hard to get his heart there, though.

But the heart is what God wants. In fact, he might even want that more than the law abiding. He wants it so much that he sent the Redemption in a 8 pound 4 ounce package. It’s brilliant, really, totally unexpected. It came from a place that fooled everyone. Our warrior was in diapers. Our redeemer was being cooed to sleep by cows. 

And I love it. I’m overwhelmed by it. I’m redeemed by it.

I love Christmas. 

Activity

This might be the hardest project we have had. Turn off your phone and all other electronic input for FIVE MINUTES and close your eyes. Then very intentionally contemplate the waiting and the mystery and the redemption. Allow it to wash over you, allow it to overwhelm you, allow it to drive you to your knees. Let yourself love Christmas. 

Prayer

Thank you, Father, for who you are and what you have done. Thank you for giving us the law to follow and the Redeemer when we don’t. Thank you for mystery. Be with us throughout this day and in all we think, say, or do and above all, let us glorify you.  

Thank you for Christmas. 

I love you.

Amen

Posted by Brian McCall with

Monday, Dec 18 | The judgement seat

Editor's Note

About the author: Misty Soderstrom and her husband Stan have been members at ZPC for almost 20 years! They have two adult children who are both married - one daughter and one son. Misty has served as a ZPC deacon, sings in the choir, and currently coordinates ZPC's Inquirers Classes.

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 | 2 Corinthians 5:10

For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.

A few days ago I served on a jury. It was my fourth time to be chosen, and I’m always glad that I’m not the one on trial before the judge. Our justice system is about determining guilt (or innocence) and dispensing appropriate punishments. We use judges, juries, and lawyers to try and arrive at just verdicts or judgements.  

God’s justice doesn't involve juries, lawyers, or any human element. It is intrinsic to who he is — God is just. God also is love, and because of his love for us, he sent his son to take the punishment for our guilt. Jesus is sinless and blameless— the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed for us. Jesus redeemed our lives by giving his own in our place. Redemption is possible because Jesus took our punishment. 

Our scripture for today says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he’s done in the body, whether good or evil.” 

Just as the person was standing trial in the case for which I recently served, each of us will stand in judgement. However, we will not have a jury of our peers. We will stand before a holy God.

If you're like me, the thought of having every deed judged makes you uncomfortable. Our broken selves and our broken world get in the way of always choosing good over evil. Before a human jury we can try to make a case for ourselves, but how can we even begin to make a case before God – blameless, just, and the holiest of holies?

God knew that in our human-ness we would fail him. And he sent His Son Jesus to humbly bare our guilt and allow us to be acquitted on every charge.

Activity

The Christmas season can be very difficult when we are experiencing strained relationships. Ask yourself if you are in the position of judge, jury, or executioner over someone in your life. Are you holding someone in the prison of your unmet expectations? Maybe someone has unfairly judged you.

Ask God to open your eyes to all the ways he has redeemed your life. Pray that he will show you any areas where you are not living out your redemption. Choose to forgive and release those who have hurt you (or hurt your loved ones). Praise God for what he has done and is doing to bring reconciliation in your relationships.  

Prayer

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for taking my sin and giving me your right standing before God. Thank you that I need not fear your judgement seat because you have redeemed my life. Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to you. Help me to bring honor and glory to you, Lord God Almighty.  

Shine your healing light on any areas of darkness in me and the relationships in which you have placed me. Help me to be an instrument of your peace and love. Show me all that you would have me do to live into the redemption that I have in Christ Jesus. Continue to strengthen me and encourage me in your ways so that I will not slip into unloving habits. May your kingdom come and your will be done.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Posted by Misty Soderstrom with

1234567891011