Dec 24, 2017
Isaiah 61:1-62:3 “Glad Tidings”
Series: Advent
Jesus’ coming is heralded by angels who bring “glad tidings” of “great joy” for “all people.”  This verse in Luke 2 is probably one of the most memorable in Scripture, of course hearing it in the voice of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  That, we say, is what Christmas is all about. But what is that good news really?  We say that Jesus coming is “good news.”  It’s the beginning of the Gospel, really, a word that means Good News.  But what is that good news?  For us, it isn’t just that Jesus came to the earth that is the “good news,” it’s the profound impact that God’s only Son had on the world and on our lives.  Our Scripture passage from Isaiah 61 reminds us of just some of the real-life impacts Jesus has on our lives. Questions to take home:
  1. Isaiah lists a number of things that would be accomplished through Jesus’ life and ministry.  Where do you see yourself in this passage?  What impact does Jesus’ ministry then, and His continual presence now have on your life?
  2. Are there those in your life that fit into some of these categories?  How could they benefit from hearing the “Good News” of Jesus coming?  Have you told them these glad tidings?  Will you?
  3. Isaiah’s words have more to do than just physical changes in our lives, they have to do with our God given identity.  Isaiah uses words like “instead,” “inherit,” “clothed,” and “called.”  Christmas celebrations have often been relegated to celebrating Jesus’ coming; how can you remember that His coming ultimately led to the transformation of our identity?  Do we celebrate Christmas with an eye on the cross?
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  • Dec 24, 2017Isaiah 61:1-62:3 “Glad Tidings”
    Dec 24, 2017
    Isaiah 61:1-62:3 “Glad Tidings”
    Series: Advent
    Jesus’ coming is heralded by angels who bring “glad tidings” of “great joy” for “all people.”  This verse in Luke 2 is probably one of the most memorable in Scripture, of course hearing it in the voice of Linus from A Charlie Brown Christmas.  That, we say, is what Christmas is all about. But what is that good news really?  We say that Jesus coming is “good news.”  It’s the beginning of the Gospel, really, a word that means Good News.  But what is that good news?  For us, it isn’t just that Jesus came to the earth that is the “good news,” it’s the profound impact that God’s only Son had on the world and on our lives.  Our Scripture passage from Isaiah 61 reminds us of just some of the real-life impacts Jesus has on our lives. Questions to take home:
    1. Isaiah lists a number of things that would be accomplished through Jesus’ life and ministry.  Where do you see yourself in this passage?  What impact does Jesus’ ministry then, and His continual presence now have on your life?
    2. Are there those in your life that fit into some of these categories?  How could they benefit from hearing the “Good News” of Jesus coming?  Have you told them these glad tidings?  Will you?
    3. Isaiah’s words have more to do than just physical changes in our lives, they have to do with our God given identity.  Isaiah uses words like “instead,” “inherit,” “clothed,” and “called.”  Christmas celebrations have often been relegated to celebrating Jesus’ coming; how can you remember that His coming ultimately led to the transformation of our identity?  Do we celebrate Christmas with an eye on the cross?
  • Dec 10, 2017Isaiah 9:2-7 “Recognizing the Light”
    Dec 10, 2017
    Isaiah 9:2-7 “Recognizing the Light”
    Series: Advent
    The Christmas season is one of light.  We decorate our houses and Christmas trees with lights which seem to brighten up the world in these dark winter days.  These lights are supposed to remind us that Jesus is the Light of the World and that, as John says, the Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. For many of us, though, it seems that the darkness is often a lot more prevalent in our lives than the light.  Whether it’s the “bad things that happen to good people” or the ongoing battle with sickness, uncertainty, loss, or anxiety, darkness seems to be all around us.  Our Scripture today says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…”  It assures us that, even if the light is small, it is still piercing the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Questions to take home:
    1. Last week we talked about the wilderness, which Scripture describes as a place of chaos and darkness.  In what ways are you walking in the wilderness during this holiday season?
    2. Scripture never talks about darkness without directing us to the light.  After reading today’s Scriptures, are there places in your life where you can see the light shining in?  Even if it seems small or faith, where is it?
    3. In Scripture, the response to God’s help and salvation is to “proclaim” it.  We see this in the Psalms and today in Isaiah’s testimony of God’s promise.  If you have “seen the light” at work in your life, will you tell someone about it this week?  Who?
  • Dec 3, 2017Isaiah 40:1-11 “Slow Preparation”
    Dec 3, 2017
    Isaiah 40:1-11 “Slow Preparation”
    Series: Advent
    Like the season of Lent, the season of Advent is a time of waiting and preparation.  It’s a time to slow down and anticipate the events that are about to take place.  Advent is a time of intentional reflection and of self-examination as we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts. Sadly, the Advent season, instead of being a time of slowing down, is a time in which everything speeds up.  Our lives are full of more; more parties, more shopping, more running around.  More, more, more.  Instead of preparation, we have distraction.  Instead of anticipation of a Savior, we look forward to sales.  Instead of reflection, we are full of worry, racing to beat the clock in the maddening countdown to Christmas. Questions to take home:
    1. What are some of the Holiday season traditions that you hold to each year?  What particular meaning do they hold in your life?  Does that meaning resonate with the Biblical call to “prepare the way for the Lord” as we prepare for Christ’s coming?
    2. Are there ways that you and/or your family intentionally slow down and prepare for Christ’s coming?  What are they?  Do you find these things to be life giving or added stress in a full holiday season?
    3. Do you sense God doing any work inside of you in this Advent season?  How is God removing barriers to a relationship with Him?  Are you willing to “open the door” to His presence in your heart?  What is one way you can do that this week?