Filter By:

Jesus changes everything!

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: Craig Olney and his wife Christy are active ZPC members. They serve as home group leaders, on Great Banquet and Kairos Prison Ministries teams, are Greeters, First Impressions team members and Christy serves on the Missions Commission Finance team. They recently moved from Zionsville to the Village of West Clay and are reaching out and getting to know their neighbors.

Scripture: John 4

Today’s devotional focuses on the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus is on his way to Galilee from Judea because he was facing opposition from the Jewish leaders. He has a large following, primarily due to the public miracles people have seen him perform, but he is becoming a liability to the ruling Jewish leadership. Therefore, he decides to take his ministry back to the rural area of Galilee.

Jesus chooses the shortest route, and it takes him through Samaria, a place avoided by Jews because of the people who live there. He stops at a well for a drink where he encounters a woman drawing water. He speaks to her, which is not culturally appropriate, and ends up telling her he is the Messiah. She believes and runs back to her village and tells the whole town about this encounter. The Samaritans in the village come to the well and ask Jesus to stay with them. He stays for 2 days and many believe in him.

Funny, isn’t it? The Jews, who were looking for the Messiah, did not recognize him but the Samaritans, who had a different conception of the Messiah, were able to recognize and accept that Jesus is who he said he was.  

This is an example of the inclusiveness of the Christian faith. In our world today, Christians are often viewed as exclusive (because of Jesus’ words in John 14:6: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.). However, the opposite is actually true, Jesus reaches out to all people regardless of what they believe. Jesus is “the way” and that “way” is available for all who seek it. 

This Advent, as we look at the life of Jesus as told by John. Remember it’s all about Jesus and how him coming into the world changed everything! 

Prayer:

Merciful God,
Thank you so much for sending Jesus into the world. Thank you for loving me enough to provide a way to be your child. Thank you for forgiving my sins. Help me see all people through your eyes. Help me to reach out, tell my story, and show others the way.
In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

Activity:

Sit quietly today for 5 min and reflect on how much you are loved by God. Just soak it in. Then think of someone you don’t like or have a problem with and ask God to show you a way to encounter them with the “good news." 

Posted by Craig Olney with

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

12345678910 ... 6869