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Step into the light

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring Jesus' life through the book of John. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpcdevo to 39970. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

About the Author: My name is Cynthia McCall. Brian, my husband of 32 years, and I are members at ZPC. Our children are Zachary and his wife Alexis, who are expecting our first grandchild in April; Jacob and his wife Mia, who are headed to the Dominican Republic to be missionaries in January; Hannah, who is headed to L.A. next semester for an internship in the film industry; and our bonus daughter, Dhamar, who lives at home and attends IUPUI. I am currently working on a Master’s Degree in Divinity. I serve as a ZPC Home Group leader and help out as an adult ministries assistant. I also am part of Revive and Restore Ministries.

SCRIPTURE: JOHN 3:1-10

As I read through John 3, there were so many great themes to choose from for this devotional. I chose the story of Nicodemus, “a member of the Jewish ruling council,” having a conversation with Jesus. In this story is where Jesus says that we need to be “born again” in order to see the Kingdom of Heaven.

John 3:2 reads that Nicodemus “came to Jesus at night.” Charles Swindoll, in Swindoll’s Living Insights, New Testament Commentary on John,[1] makes a couple of revealing insights I’d like to share. “The fact that Nicodemus came to see Jesus under cover of darkness suggests he was concerned about being seen with Him. The images of night and darkness are menacing in John’s Gospel….”[2]

This theme of light and darkness goes along with Elia Mrakovich’s sermon theme on Sunday. Elia writes, “…let [darkness] be that which points back to the light burning in you, refining you, and keeping you warm.” Nicodemus came in darkness to the only Light that could change him. In the conversation between the two of them, it seemed that Nicodemus was not comprehending what Jesus was saying. In all the years I have read this account, I really thought Nicodemus was being innocently confused, because the concept that Jesus presented was difficult. As I read Charles Swindoll’s commentary, my view changed. Swindoll writes, “Don’t forget; (Nicodemus) is no imbecile sitting across from Jesus. This is a brilliant theologian, skilled in the art of debate, addressing what he undoubtedly saw as a young upstart. His question said, in effect, ‘What a ludicrous proposition!’…Nicodemus didn’t misunderstand Jesus’ imagery; he objected to [it].”[3]

Swindoll goes on to make the point that Jesus has handed us a free gift. We can’t earn it by working for it. We just need to receive it. “To Nicodemus, a man who spent most of his life honing his religious skills, meticulously fulfilling every perceived expectation of goodness and righteousness, this news could have come as either a wonderful relief or an exasperating disappointment. Pride is the determining factor.”[4] Nicodemus had a decision to make. Would he choose the Light and give up the self-righteousness he was clinging to, or would he choose to cling to the darkness?

We too have a choice to make. We either choose to cling to our pride and other sin in the darkness or we cling to the Light of life, Jesus. Our initial decision to step into the Light is a decision for salvation. We choose eternal life with the Light of the world. After that, we have opportunity to continually bring parts of ourselves out of the darkness and into the Light of sanctification (which means becoming more like Christ). When we choose the Light, Jesus will reveal what needs to change in us. No matter how hard it may be, letting go of the darkness and choosing the Light brings forgiveness, redemption, and peace. This advent season, step into the Light.

BLESSING:

Loved child of Father God,
He so loved you that he gave his only begotten son, so that if you choose to believe in him, you will not perish but have everlasting life. May you be blessed with the faith to believe and to step into the Light. May you be blessed with courage to bring the dark parts of yourself into the Light & allow Jesus to grant you forgiveness, redemption, and peace.

Have a blessed Advent and Christmas season.

 

[1] Charles R. Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights, New Testament Commentary, Volume, John, Carol Stream, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 2014.

[2] Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights, John, 2014, 140.

[3] Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights, John, 2014, 133.

[4] Swindoll, Swindoll’s Living Insights, John, 2014, 138-139.

Posted by Cynthia McCall with

The blessing of time

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring Jesus' life through the book of John. To sign up to receive text notification of these posts, text zpcdevo to 39970. We welcome your comments and questions each day.

About the author: Kara Crabb and her husband Mike are members of ZPC. They have a blended family of 6 kids and 3 grandchildren with another on the way. Kara is involved with student ministries, Landscape Team, Home Groups, and Great Banquet and Awakening communities.

Scripture: John 2:1-12

My childhood Christmas experiences in Pennsylvania were always wonderful. I have 5 siblings and because my mother and father’s house was the largest on both sides of our family, all the parties were held at my home. As an adult, I assumed everything would be the same with my kids. It wasn’t, so now I dread the Christmas season. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Jesus and celebrating his birth. But, as a mother of a blended family, I have not been able to celebrate with my family as I did as a child. Our children are grown and have families of their own, in addition to having to share them with other parents, grandparents, and in-laws that span no less than 4 states, I rarely get more than a couple of hours with them all together.

Reading the story in today's scripture of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the wedding in Cana, I can relate to her feeling as if this may be a last chance to share her son with family and close friends. I’m sure she was aware that her time with him was limited. I can almost imagine her winking at him and shrugging knowing deep down he would do something glorious. He did! Jesus took something sacred (the ceremonial jars) and filled them with wine–a sweet blessing for all the wedding guests.

This spring my husband Mike and I traveled to Israel with a number of our ZPC friends. Looking at this passage after actually drinking wine in Galilee with my ZPC family, I have a closer connection to Jesus, his mother, and the disciples. In the past I saw the wedding miracle as Jesus being pushed by his mother to do something he wasn’t ready to do. Now I see God loving his mother enough to tease her and exceed her expectations. This Advent season I choose to bask in the glory of my own children’s achievements. I choose to accept the blessing of the time I have with them. It’s very hard to let go of tradition and holiday expectations but I urge all of us to embrace the glory Jesus reveals. Let’s let him surprise us once again.

Activity:

If you are a parent, take the time to really see your child/children for who they really are. If you are a child reading this, when your parents ask you to do something that you don’t feel you are ready for, do something amazing! Exceed each others expectations this Christmas.

Prayer:

Precious Jesus,
Thank you for mothers that challenge us to step out of our comfort zones and children who bring joy to our parties. May this season be filled with love and laughter and the glory of your presence.
Amen

Posted by Kara Crabb with

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