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Tuesday, Dec 12 | The unexpected

Editor's Note

About the author: 
Pamela and her husband David have been at ZPC for a number of years. They both are involved in ZPC's music ministry as well as the Great Banquet community.

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 | 1 Corinthians 2:8-10

No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
  what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

Oh, what the Jews and the rulers missed when they missed Jesus. How did it all happen? Did they not witness enough miracles? Did they not see the joy-filled faces of those who spent time with him, who were forgiven by him, who were healed by him? How did they not know or care that he was for whom they had been waiting? He fulfilled the prophecies. He was the One. And they missed him.  

In this amazing mystery of God’s love, timing, and ways, there were so many things they did not understand. They were not expecting a baby, or a manger, or for Jesus to be revealed to both shepherds and kings. They waited and looked for a Messiah to arrive in a specific way and to act in a certain manner: an earthly king who would deliver them from their Roman oppressors, who would restore Israel, a leader who fit their mold. They could not recognize this man who was not presenting himself as a ruler or a powerful conqueror. He was more interested in eternal saving than in earthly supremacy. And that just didn’t fit.

How about us? What does this time of expectancy look like in our little world? For many of us, we are white-knuckling it until Christmas Day. Holding on for dear life, flying from thing to thing, living in a chaos-filled frenzy, and wondering how it is all going to get done. The preparations, the parties, the outings, the events, there is much to fill our time and yet we can end up feeling empty.

In the midst of all that is grappling for our attention, though, there is a baby who waits. He waits to be remembered. He waits to be asked into our day. He waits for us to acknowledge him as King and Lord over our lives, over this season. The best way to face the frenzy of the season is for us to invite Jesus in, to spend time with him, to become grounded in him before facing the day. We can ask him how to simplify and how to make ourselves and our lives better reflect him during this time.

Jesus is coming. In the midst of all that is beautiful and crazy about this season, don’t miss him.


Make a list of all that you still hope to do this Advent season. Sending Christmas cards, making cookies, going to the office Christmas party, attending a Christmas concert may all top the list. Make the list as complete as possible. Then, knowing that God doesn’t want us to be overwhelmed or exhausted with all of our desires and commitments, pray over the list and ask God what he would like it to look like. When we invite him in and listen to what he says, we may find things look differently than what we first thought. Post the list on your fridge with the question, “God, what do you want?” at the top. Then see how God adjusts things to make your life more reflective of him.


Heavenly Father, we don’t always understand your ways. And it can be hard to know how to keep this season well. Please reveal to us by your Spirit all that you want to show us during this time of waiting. Help our lives to reflect you to others. Use us to bring your hope, light and salvation to the world. Guide our thoughts and our actions so that, in the midst of this Advent season, we do not miss Jesus.

In Jesus’ name we pray,


Posted by Pamela Ackerman with

#digzpc : Hospitality

I find the word “Hospitality” a little intimidating. What comes to mind is an elegant gathering in a picturesque home where the perfect hors d’oeuvres are served on silver trays. Classical music floats through the air as people speak softly and laugh politely.  Hospitality, simply put, is not one of my gifts and so picturing it in action is a little difficult for me.  But, regardless of what a gathering in someone’s home may actually look like, I believe God calls us to connect with people in other ways, not solely in a controlled environment where we have decided what things will look like and who will participate.

Jesus connected with all sorts of people wherever he went.  Some of his interactions developed into relationships, as with the disciples, Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Other connections were quick encounters that, at times, proved to be life-changing, as with the woman at the well and the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.   

My hometown church has a sign over their door as you leave the service which says, “You are now entering your mission field”. While I love to travel to other countries and serve others for Jesus, our mission as Christians is to love people: to encourage them and bring them hope, all for Christ, right where we are.

What does that look like for me? I ask God to help me shine Him, to be His light and life to others each day.  Then, when I go out, I greet pretty much everyone with whom I come into contact: the convenience store clerk, the restaurant worker, the older woman sitting on a bench at Wal-Mart, the teen waiting for a ride home from church. I ask them how their day is going. If it’s going great, I’ll be happy for them.  If not, I’ll let them know I’ll be praying for them.  It’s not the words that make the difference in these minute encounters. What touches others is that someone took the time to ask and truly care about their response.

In thinking of how Jesus ministered to and cared about everyone, what might this look like for you? What suggestions do you have for others? How would you like to challenge yourself in this area?  #digzpc

#digzpc is the title of ZPC's Lenten series about spiritual practices. We encourage you to make comments about your experience with the practice of the week, which is simplicity this week. Also find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, if you participate in these media. When commenting there, please always use #digzpc so we can find your comments. Are you ready to dig?



Posted by Pamela Ackerman with