Dec 24, 2020
Luke 2:1-20 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Salvation”
Series: Advent
Christmas Eve Service
Pastor Jon VanderWall Preaching
  • Dec 24, 2020Luke 2:1-20 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Salvation”
    Dec 24, 2020
    Luke 2:1-20 “Christmas: Setting the Stage for Salvation”
    Series: Advent
    Christmas Eve Service
    Pastor Jon VanderWall Preaching
  • Dec 20, 2020Isaiah 92, 6-7; 7:14 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Prophecy”
    Dec 20, 2020
    Isaiah 92, 6-7; 7:14 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Prophecy”
    Series: Advent
  • Dec 13, 20202 Samuel 7:12-16 “Advent: Setting the Stage for the Kingdom”
    Dec 13, 2020
    2 Samuel 7:12-16 “Advent: Setting the Stage for the Kingdom”
    Series: Advent
    Thoughts for Reflection: Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, the Kingdom of Heaven is one of the topics that He addresses most.  Often speaking through parables, Jesus explains what this Kingdom is like and how it expands.  This, however, is not the first time this sort of language is spoken of in Scripture.  From the time of King David, God puts forth the understanding that His Kingdom would be established on earth through David’s line, ultimately resulting in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. God tells David that his throne would be established forever.  This too points to Jesus not just as a relative of David, or as an exemplary teacher and moral example, but as the true King of kings and Lord of Lords.  So many New Testament passages affirm this position of Jesus, seated on “David’s throne” and at “God’s Right Hand.”  Ultimately, though, as we look forward to Christmas, we must consider what it means for us that the King of Heaven came into the world, when we declare Jesus as Lord and King of our lives as well. Questions to take home:
    1. What do you think about when you hear “Kingdom of Heaven/God”?  Where would you say you have learned the most about that?  How has that understanding been challenged or confirmed through today’s Scripture passage?
    2. Jesus fulfills three Old Testament rolls: Prophet, Priest and King.  How do you understand Jesus as your King and what implications does that have for your life and walk of faith?
    3. We talk often about seeing “the Kingdom expand” in the community of Hopkins.  What does that mean for you?  How do you envision that being accomplished?  How do you see yourself as a part of that expansion?
  • Dec 6, 2020Genesis 12:1-9; Exodus 20:1-21 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Covenant Promise”
    Dec 6, 2020
    Genesis 12:1-9; Exodus 20:1-21 “Advent: Setting the Stage – Covenant Promise”
    Series: Advent

    Thoughts for Reflection:

    Having set the stage for the coming Messiah, a Redeemer and Savior from the sin humanity has become bound to, Scripture then takes us on a journey. Along that journey God reveals how he is going to bring about this Messiah, what this Savior will be like, and how redemption will be accomplished. Through a series of covenants, God gradually sets the stage for the coming Messiah, His Son, and shows His people both their need for Him and what He will be like.

    As we journey through Advent and look forward to the Christmas holiday, we find ourselves thinking a great deal about the story of that first Christmas night. Shepherds and angels, wisemen and a manger, and a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths. That’s what Christmas is all about, right Charlie Brown? But there is so much more wrapped up in those cloths than just an infant and the way that we understand and recognize Him, His Mission, and ultimately His deity and Holiness has been part of God’s work for hundreds of years.

    Questions to take home:

    What are some of the normal things that come to mind when you think about the Christmas narrative? Do you ever find yourself dismissing this amazing happening because you’ve “heard it before?” How can you intentionally work to deepen your understanding of the Incarnation of Christ this year?

    We read the 10 Commandments today. Read Romans 3:9-20 & 7:7-25. What is the connection to the Messiah here? How do these passages help you understand the person of Jesus Christ better?

    Ultimately, the story of Christmas is a message that we are called to share. How does our understanding of God’s word to “set the stage” for the coming of Jesus Christ help you better share the Good News with others?

  • Nov 29, 2020Genesis 3:1-15 “Advent: Setting the Stage”
    Nov 29, 2020
    Genesis 3:1-15 “Advent: Setting the Stage”
    Series: Advent
    Thoughts for Reflection: Though the contemporary season of Advent is not truly outlined in the Bible, the theme of “expectant waiting” and anticipation for the coming of the Lord and His work is found throughout Scripture. From the very beginning, humanity had been waiting for the One who would crush the head of the serpent. The people of God waited through both good times and bad times for the coming of the Messiah. In the present age, we wait once again for Christ’s Second Coming and the ultimate fulfillment and completion of His redemptive work. In the season of Advent, we reflect on and even practice this sort of “expectant waiting” as we approach the celebration of Christmas. This year, our waiting seems to go beyond just Christmas though as our yearning for a “return to normal,” a release from this pandemic is on our minds. Throughout Scripture, we see God at work through the difficult times, setting the stage for something greater for His people. As we consider the Advent season, maybe this year we need to broaden our gaze as we wait expectantly for the great work God is preparing in advance for us. Questions to take home: Read Psalm 130. The word “wait” means to “hope for”, “put trust in” and “anticipate”. These are major themes of the Advent season. How do these themes and this Psalm alter your perspective on our present season (most of 2020) of “waiting”? Read Romans 8:18-30. Scripture is very clear that God is working for the “good” of those who “love Him.” If you have declared Christ to be Lord of your life, how does this passage help to clarify your perspective on God’s work in and through your present situation? What do you think He is “setting the stage” for in your life? How can the hope/anticipation of Psalm 130 and the Truth of Romans 8 impact your prayer life in the next month? Read Hebrews 11. Pay special attention to Verses 13-16 and 39-40. How does the faith of these “heroes of the faith” inspire you in this difficult time? How can we put our faith into action in this Advent season? 4 Ways to Pray during Advent: Acknowledge Present Difficulties Renew Trust in God's Faithfulness New (renewed) Vision for God's Present Work Expectant Hope for God's Future Plans
  • 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?