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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

Interruptions!

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: Hi! I’m Mary Sumner. My husband Barry and I have been attending ZPC since 1989. We have two grown children, Stephen and Christine, and two beautiful grandchildren. Barry oversees Hispanic ministries for the Presbytery and is on the ZPC Mission Commission. I help lead Revive and Restore Ministries, a non-profit, non-denominational ministry that comes alongside of women of all ages to help them become all that God created them to be.

SCRIPTURE: Luke 2:1-20

   And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.”   Luke 2:8,9 NLT

God is a God of order, so there is nothing wrong with having plans and expectations. But sometimes it seems that God delights is interrupting our well-laid plans! Maybe it is because, when he does, we are forced to take our eyes off of our problems, the daily grind of life, and look up to him and receive his higher perspective. 

We are familiar with the many interruptions Jesus’ parents, Joseph and Mary, endured in their lives and how God used them to fulfill prophecy and bring wonderful, eternal blessings to the world for untold generations.  One is recorded in the familiar passage of the Christmas story, Luke 2:1-10, in which Joseph and Mary were forced to go to Bethlehem to register, when Mary was close to giving birth. 

And then there were the shepherds, who as usual were out there watching their sheep at night, when suddenly they were terrified as the angel of the Lord appeared to them. They were expecting a quiet, ordinary night, when “suddenly, a great company of heavenly hosts” appeared with the angel of the Lord praising God and announcing the birth of the Savior.

God’s interruptions have the potential to eternally alter us and our lives.  Those shepherds’ lives were obviously changed, since immediately they chose to find the Savior and be among the first to recognize and worship him. Maybe, like me, you have asked, “Why?” instead of, “How do you want me to respond, Lord?” when God has interrupted your life. How would you like to react to God’s next sudden change of plans?

As the New Year begins, expect God’s interruptions, and thank him that he loves you so much that he chose to give you an upgrade, a promotion, to a higher place, an eternal perspective that will change your life forever. 

Prayer:

Father God,
Thank you that you love me so much, that you are always working in me and around me to grow me more like Jesus. Holy Spirit, give me the desire and power to align with God’s plans and purposes when his interruptions occur. I don’t want to miss any opportunity to grow in my knowledge and understanding, and draw closer to Jesus.
It’s in my Savior’s precious name I pray,
Amen.

Dear friend, be blessed with confident hope and joyful expectation as you begin the New Year. May the Holy Spirit make you sensitive to the flow of his life in and around you, so that you miss no opportunity to be lifted higher.  Amen.

Posted by Mary Sumner with

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