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What are you hungry for?

What have you been hungry for over the holidays?

It may be hungry for honey baked ham and mashed potatoes, Christmas cookies, or some good chips and dips for New Year’s Eve. No, not that kind of hunger.

Hungry for the magic of Christmas, for family and friends to be together? Yes, but there’s more.

In John 6:35, Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Ok, so we need to hunger and thirst for God. But that doesn’t really come naturally. Our culture is so scattered, immediate, and saturated with media, information, and technology that it is hard to hunger for something abstract like God.

But Jesus just doesn’t offer water to quench our physical thirst, like after running a race. Jesus just doesn’t offer bread to fill our stomachs at the end of a long work day. Jesus is the living water; Jesus is the bread of life. It is a spiritual reality, a miracle that we can relate to the living God in Jesus.

This past month at ZPC we’ve also been talking about Jesus is other things as well in the gospel of John. Jesus is light – he’s the light of the world. Jesus is life – he’s the way, the truth, the life. He is the light we need to guide us, for us to “see" and he makes us live, and is everlasting life and full life here on earth.

So knowing that Jesus is light, Jesus is life, and that Jesus will fill your hunger and quench your thirst, how do you seek him? You’ll have to be intentional, you’ll need a plan. You’ll need to have some discipline to desire God more this year.

This is the first full week of a new year. It’s a really cool sounding year, 2020, the start of a new decade. Some say the decade starts with years ending in 1, like 2021, but 2020 sounds better to my ear as the start of the decade!

This new year, this new decade: How will you hunger and thirst for God?

John 6:35 and this question were central to this past Sunday's sermon at ZPC. Listen now if you missed it.

Take some time to consider how will I hunger and thirst for God this year?

I’m trying to read the Bible in a year. I use the word “trying” because I know it’s challenging for me to do that, and I’ve often taken a year and a half to finish…so I started back in October to get a head start! But I love to read, I love the Bible, and I’m going to try and dig in to reading the Bible in a year. I’m going to be picking up some books on the way to help me – such The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey to inspire my reading of the Old Testament. And I’m going to use the You Version Bible app to track the Chronological Bible in a Year reading plan for me. 

You might like people – so you will use 2020 to connect with people, to relate to them, serve them, get to know a neighbor. You might be more introverted, so you’ll more easily connect with God through quiet times or walks in nature to see God’s creation, and be in reflective prayer. Whatever you practice, do it with gusto, knowing you will sometimes fail or fall behind (like I will), but come back to God again and again, and cultivate a thirst for God.

So when Jesus says that if you come to him, if you believe in him, you will never be hungry and never thirst…answer this question:

How will you hunger and thirst for God this year?

Let us know your response.

Here's to a great 2020. Hope to see you at ZPC. 

Posted by Scott Shelton with

The magic of Christmas

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: Rev. Scott Shelton is the Associate Pastor of Discipleship at ZPC. In his role, he feels privileged to help people grow to be shaped more like Jesus through things like Home Groups, Great Banquet, Sunday morning classes, ZPCMen, and ZPC Women’s Ministries, Second Half Adventurers, local and global missions, and even everyday conversations or phone calls.  Scott is married to Claire and they have 4 children: Jacob (senior at Huntington University), Lexia (sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University), Luke and Graham (both juniors at Covenant Christian High School), and one sweet little dog named Dixie.

Scripture: Matthew 2:7-12

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.”

I love the magic of Christmas. I remember growing up as a boy and being so excited to see what was under the tree or in my stocking – I felt like Christmas morning would never arrive. And the magic happened for our family just three years ago, when our 4 kids received a puppy under the tree. They had been begging for a puppy and we finally gave in.

Even more, we see the magic of Christmas in Matthew 1 and 2. The Holy Spirit miraculously helps a young girl named Mary to conceive and helps Joseph not to run away, speaking both to Mary and Joseph through angels – wow!

We see the Magi follow this miraculous and magical star that stops over Bethlehem and they meet the Messiah as a baby – wow! Matthew says they are “overjoyed.” The Magi were overjoyed because they saw the Messiah, the Son of God, this King born to a poor peasant couple. They felt the magic and the miracle of Christmas, just as the shepherds did, Mary and Joseph did, and we do even today. An old pastor was once asked how he was still so joyful and excited about his faith after a lifetime of being a pastor. He thought for a moment and said, “I never lost the wonder.” He never lost the wonder of the Son of God coming to earth as a baby, growing up to sacrifice his life that we might have life – abundant life here on earth and second life with God for eternity – wow! This is the reason we get excited about Jesus, about church, about our faith, family and friends! So never lose the wonder of God’s love for you through his son – born today in Bethlehem.

 

Prayer:

O Jesus,
Today we praise you and celebrate the wonder and the magic and the miracle that through you we can have hope, love, and life. Help us, Jesus, to never lose the wonder of knowing you as our Savior and Lord. Amen.

Posted by Scott Shelton with

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