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Sunday, Dec 2 | God's message of hope

Editor's Note

About the author: Scott Shelton is ZPC's associate pastor of discipleship. He and his wife Claire have been at ZPC for 24 years! They have a son and daughter in college and twin sons, who are high school sophomores.

About this post: This blog post is part of a series of daily devotionals where we are exploring traditional Advent themes of hope, joy, peace, and love. 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.

Today's scripture: Jeremiah 33

Jesus said that we will have trouble in this world. We can see it in our daily news. In Jeremiah 33, we read that ancient Israel had trouble in their world.  They were besieged by the Babylonians where there was anger, death, and the sword. The situation looked like one without hope. It was hope-less.

But God would not leave the people in the place of trouble. Jeremiah brings a message of hope. He promised redemption from the Babylonians. The ancient Jewish people were looking for a Messiah, a Savior. We too see trouble and need hope. We need the Messiah, the Savior, to come again this Christmas. The Messiah brings hope in times of trouble, peace that passes understanding, and joy that comes in the morning. 

In my own family this fall, there has been loss and sadness, mourning and exhaustion. I have been reminded and my family has been reminded that we need Jesus desperately, just like everyone else. We long to see the goodness of Jesus, the love of Jesus, the hope of Jesus. We need this season to sing again the old carols; to gather with family and to hear the messages of hope, peace, and love; and to hear again that God has a plan for our future.

God promises to Jeremiah that God’s people will have healing, peace, and security; that they will be brought back from captivity; and that they will be forgiven from sin and rebellion.

Paul also has a message of hope 1 Thessalonians 3. He calls us to pray for each other and to see the love of Jesus, so that our “love would increase and overflow for each other and everyone else.”

We all need that overflowing love and hope. We need to be brought back from the captivity of our own sin and rebellion. We need hope from the pain of this world. We need the hope that only God can bring with the coming of the Messiah. We desire for all of our best Christmas wishes to come true: to experience joy, peace, love, healing, and to experience the presence of God.

While my family has experienced pain, we have also seen God at work – through you. Through your prayers, meals, hugs, words of encouragement, and acts of kindness too numerous to count. We are humbled and grateful. As we look forward to Christmas, to the coming of Jesus, we too can pray for our families, our friends, and our communities – we need to pray for hope. We need to see God at work – to see Jesus! God is a God of Hope. This season, place your hope in Jesus – “for the Lord is good; his love endures forever.” (Jeremiah 33:11)


Reflect on God’s promises in these passages: hope, joy, peace, forgiveness, love, security, healing.  Which of these do you need the most? Now pray to receive that gift for yourself from God.

Now think of one other person who needs the hope of God, or the joy, peace, security or healing of God.  Pray for that person.  And think of one action you can do to help bring about God’s kingdom this month by sharing hope, peace, joy, or love.


O God of Jeremiah and Paul,
I too am grateful that despite the troubles of this world, you are there with us; you are Emmanuel.  Despite the troubles I have, and that we all have, you promise to walk with us.  We believe in you. In this beautiful season of anticipation, help us to place our hope in You, the one who is trustworthy and true. Provide for us what we need – your security, your joy, your peace, your love, your hope. We ask for your help. We love you. We thank you.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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We value our people

At our recent congregational dinner and meeting, I had the chance to talk about a couple of ways in which we value people. We say we are a church that values community – which means we value the relationships between the people that are here and the people that are to come. We are called as the church not to be a building but a people who build each other up. For this reason, we are working hard in 2018 to improve in two key areas.

We value our people | staffing

As many of you know, Betsy Howden is retiring April 8 after more than 20 years on staff as our worship coordinator. We will thank and celebrate her as a church on April 8 and with a smaller private party of friends and family. Thank you Betsy – we love you! Betsy’s retirement means that Jon Graybeal will be moving from student ministry to worship to work alongside Don Nieman. Jon will do more of the upfront worship leading at the 10:30 worship service so we will have two great worship leaders instead of just one. Jon and Don will also handle Betsy’s duties. We think this move values our people as we enhance the Sunday morning worship experience. With Jon moving over, we are searching for a Director of Next Generation Ministries to take Jon’s place. This new hire will be a person who can do hands-on ministry for middle school and high school students and be a department leader over children and youth, from birth to college. Many churches around the country are using this model to bring a more cohesive and collaborative approach to help children, teens, and families in churches. Please pray as we have a great search team and are actively searching for the right person. Pray that God will prepare that person to join us, and that we will recognize and support this person to succeed at making disciples of kids and families.

We value our people | security

We have increased our building security in the building during the week especially for our preschool and day care, Noah’s Ark, with the addition of locked doors, entry through key fobs into the Noah’s Ark wing, and security cameras which provide accountability in classrooms. We are now working on Sunday morning security by creating a Shepherd Team, led by ZPCers Jim Martin and Mike Mitchell, who have expertise in security and law enforcement. The Shepherd Team will soon be trained and deployed on Sunday mornings in a few key places around the building to be “eyes and ears” to watch over the flock and to help lead when we have weather emergencies, medical emergencies, or other scenarios when hundreds of you are here on a Sunday. Keep praying for this group as Jerry and I work closely with them to take one step at a time (it will take a while to cover all the bases with security) to make our church more secure, and still grow in our gifts of being welcoming and hospitable to all who come to ZPC.

We’ll keep working on being a church who values community, helps you to build relationships, and takes care of our people who are here and even those who aren’t here yet. God bless, Scott Shelton

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