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Monday, Dec 11 | A puzzling mystery

Editor's Note

About the author: 
Jim and his wife Susie have been involved at ZPC for more than 16 years. They have a son, Jack, a sophomore at Carmel High School and a daughter, Jessica, a 7th grader at Creekside Middle School. Jim is a former Elder and is active with VBS, the KY mission trip and Great Banquet. 

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.

Mystery | Philippians 1:3-14

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to think this way about all of you, because you hold me in your heart, for all of you share in God’s grace with me, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the compassion of Christ Jesus. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.

I want you to know, beloved, that what has happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters,having been made confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.
Philippians 1:3-14

A few weeks ago, I received a single puzzle piece at the conclusion of the church service. It reminded me of a conversation I led during a children's sermon a number of years ago.

"How do you typically start building a jigsaw puzzle?" I asked.
After some prompting, the general consensus was "with the edge pieces." Why?
"Because we know what they look like. They have flat edges," came the reply. 

Puzzles often get much harder from there, and so we open the box for the instructions...wait, there aren't any. Only more puzzle pieces. The closest thing to instructions for a jigsaw puzzle is the box top itself or rather, the picture of the FINAL PRODUCT. The box top is really helpful, some would say crucial, to finishing a puzzle. 

The box top gives us something we desperately need. Context. Having a single puzzle piece doesn't give you the big picture of what you're attempting to complete.

The problem is, in life, we don't have a box top, so we don't have the big picture. We don't know what the final product is supposed to look like. 

And sometimes, we feel like that single puzzle piece with little context. It's a mystery to understand how our pieces fit with one another.

Only God has an eternal view of how the pieces are meant to fit together. 

When Paul was writing his numerous letters to various churches from his jail cell, there must have been moments where he wondered "how does this piece fit into my puzzle?" But rather than be overwhelmed by the mystery of what would happen next (or if/how his pieces would fit neatly together), he instead continued to write with thanksgiving in his heart. His love letter to the Philippians reflects his joy of the Christian life and his confidence of God's love and work that was occurring in their lives. 

So, during this season of waiting, don't let the mystery of "how/where your puzzle piece fits" distract you from the knowledge that God's plan is at work, and you're part of it. One day, we'll all see the box top...but for now, be content in knowing that in his plan, you've been uniquely designed to be the perfect fit. 


Grab a jigsaw puzzle with the family and without looking at the box top, construct the outer edge. In some ways, it should be simple but it might prove to be difficult. Talk about the value of the box top!


Heavenly Father,

Thank you for having a plan for our lives. Give us patience and peace as your plan is revealed to us. Let us not forget that you've crafted us in a wonderful and deliberate way to affect the lives of others for the benefit of your kingdom. 

In Jesus name,


Posted by Jim Martin with

Saturday, Dec 9 | No longer a slave

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 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.

Galatians 4:4-7 | Waiting

“You are no longer a slave, but a son.” These words from Galatians 4:7 make my heart cry out in relief every time I read them. Across our landscape this year, I see those “enslaved” by sorrow due to grieving a death, a divorce, awaiting a reunion, or a miracle. The Advent season can be a very difficult time for those already exhausted from waiting. Paul’s letter reminds us we are not slaves to earthly circumstances, but rather we are God’s children, just as Jesus is God's son.

The arrival of Jesus means God fulfilled his promise of making us a permanent member of his family. Those who are suffering can turn to Galatians 4:6: To show you that you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.” 

What comfort! I can cry out “Father, my Father!” and he will meet me with the promises of Jesus! I am a child of God, and cherished beyond measure; never alone or without purpose.

So while the Advent season means we await the celebration of a miracle, for those hurting, it also represents the deliverance from waiting for eternal mercy and love. God has such tremendous plans for our lives: And since you are his son, God will give you all that he has for his sons. (Galatians 4:7) This verse gives me the strength to journey forward, and the hope needed to rebuild after times of loss. The Advent season is not just a time of waiting. It's also a time to celebrate that because of Jesus' birth, all waiting has an end.

Please join me in sending love to those who may be waiting through hard times this season:


  1. Think through your personal contact list and find friends or family members who may need comfort this holiday season. Send them an extra card with a prayer or drop a small treat in their mailbox. Let them know they are in your heart this Advent season, and acknowledge they are waiting for comfort, which can be found in this season of God’s promises. How can you add your twist to it, letting them know just how very special they are to your life?
  2. What is your favorite winter item? Warm socks? A fun hat? Soft gloves? Purchase a new one and donate that item for someone in need. Attach a note that includes a prayer of the warmth of God’s promises while waiting for his Son's birth. Comfort sometimes comes in very small bundles of joy. ;)
  3. Check in with the Zionsville Food Pantry and ask what their greatest needs are this season for those who are facing challenges.


Dear Lord our Father,

Thank you for this season of waiting. It reminds us to reach out to those in a season of suffering, and invite them into the warm love of God’s family. Please bring me enlightenment to whom I may share this good news. Please stay with me, Lord. Stay with me during my own challenging times, and teach me how to shine with your love, no matter my circumstances. Please grant me patience when my own seasons of waiting creates discomfort. I especially thank you for the hope this season brings, and show me how I may bring this hope to others.

In Jesus’ Name,


Posted by Lori Fulk with