Chase the Promise

Part Two: Chase the Promise (Jeremiah 29:10-14)

60% of Americans make resolutions… wanting to be better. 1 diet, 2 exercise. Both require a plan. Listen to the director or coach. The thing we chase after require a plan. That which we long for, we need plans to pursue. All of God’s plans may be discovered in his promises. He will fulfill his Word. The date: 605-537 BC with the Jews in exile, and God raised up Jeremiah to remind them of his promise. How?

Live like His promises are true (chase the promise) by,

1. PRIORITIZING what God says Over POPULAR THOUGHTS of Man (Jeremiah 29:10) Consider this…

1) There are false voices that come against his Word. The negative voice had already arisen, Hananiah. The question became, “Who spoke for God?” Who will you believe? See Jeremiah 28:15-17, the damage was done, so Jeremiah wanted to remind the people of what God said. False voices can sound authoritative, influential, even rational, it made sense to the people. According to Jeremiah 29:2, Hanaiah seemed to speak for the LORD. People don’t really change, because we always like to hear the popular news, not the hard stuff.

2) Only God’s Word can defeat or correct those false voices or narratives. Universalism, how can a God of love say there is only one way to heaven? There are good people of other faiths. I’ve done too much to be forgiven. Some things are just impossible in my life. “Our future is as bright as God’s promises.” Adonia Judson.

2. TRUSTING in God’s PERSONAL PLANS for You DESPITE PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES (Jeremiah 29:11).

1) Don’t give up on God. (Jeremiah 29:1-7) Thousands of God’s people were taken captive, but he is still with you, not limited by the walls of the Jerusalem. Move forward in faith and trust.

2) Don’t stop listening to God. (Jeremiah 29:8-9) Take all others thoughts captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

3) Don’t stop waiting for God’s plan to be fulfilled. (Jeremiah 29:15) When you are busy, the waiting does not seem like waiting. The report about time delays at baggage claim, down to 1 minute walk and an 8 minute wait. They still had complaints so they moved baggage claim about 8 minutes away, and the complaints stopped.

3. APPROACHING worship as the PRIVILEGE OF A DIVINE relationship and not as an OBLIGATION OF RELIGION (Jeremiah 29:12).

Call to me, come to me, pray to me – worship in the temple. The profile of worship in the temple. For us, it is a profile of a worshiper.

Do you hunger for God’s presence? Fellowship with a holy God. Do you see worship as a privilege? Are we dependent on what God says?

4. Seeking God FROM SINCERITY and not OUT OF A SPIRITUAL IDEAL (Jeremiah 29:13).

This is in covenant language. We have something to do. Seek him with our whole heart, not casually or with our mouth only. But how?

  1. We have a personal relationship with Jesus.
  2. We yearn for fellowship.
  3. We seek in all the promises given. Living as they are confirmed.
  4. We follow Jesus. Our first love, Savior, and Lord.

In 2014, there were treasure seekers, in the Rockies, and many died in search of it. The wealthy man claims to have hidden it well, but people still risk their lives to find it. Wives and children have lost their loved ones for a treasure that many don’t believe exists. One widow said that it was vanity to give your life for a “greater good,” is a greater good hidden treasure?

Tozer said it was the greatest paradox of the soul, pursing the One who loves and pursues you.

Questions for further study:

  1. Why was it important for the exiles to know that God planned to prosper them and not to harm them?
  2. What kind of prophet (false or true) told the people what they wanted to hear while requiring nothing of them in return?
  3. What emotional reaction would most people have if asked to pray for the prosperity of their captors?
  4. How do you think God would have us pray for our country?
  5. Why does God want us to seek Him with our whole heart?
  6. What does it mean to you to seek God with your whole heart?

From Apathy to Intensity, Part 1

Jonathan Sax, a former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, “When it was hard to be a Jew, people remained Jewish, when it was easy to be a Jew, people stopped being Jewish.” Same for Christianity. We get comfortable, complacent, apathetic.

The church in the Revelation was commendable, but regarding what mattered most, they were lacking.

To whom was this written, the congregation? The angel, is it a messenger? A pastor of the church? Who is the one who holds the seven stars and walks among them. Jesus gives us a very clear message to the church and this message impacts our journey.

Good people doing good things (Revelation 2:2-3) Jesus acknowledged their behavior locked in a specific lifestyle. I KNOW YOUR LABOR, I KNOW YOUR PERSEVERANCE, which speaks to their unction and then their character.

Labor – you work to the point of exhaustion, the church was very busy.

Perseverance and endurance – your character, setting the evil straight, Acts 19 and the story at Ephesus, unbelieving Jews and the sons of Sceva, no brought in by their false testimony. Demetrius and his silver idol business, and they worked hard through it all. They do not grow weary. Good people doing good things.

George Zulu from Zambia interned with Ken, held a church calendar in his hands and said, “You people are busy. With all this activity, how do your people go out into the world and just be themselves?”

Good things making empty routines (Revelation 2:4) I have something against you. Always beware the “but” or “however,” which will nullify all that you have just heard or done.

Downward spiral toward apathy:

1) First is being settled. Active people get settled, and comfortable, on the couch. They became settled in their activity. Their busyness was affirmation they were righteous enough.

2) Losing sight of the main thing, their purpose, their mission. Apathy reflects a coolness and a loss of passion.

3) Sacrificing the best on the altar of good things. They thought they were a loving congregation but they lost their first love. Hard work and good doctrine is never enough to satisfy our sacrificing Savior (Matthew 22:36-40, John 13:35 – love God and loving others, then the world will know that we belong to Jesus).

1 John 4:2 – to say that I love God and not others makes God a liar. Hate is when we withhold love from someone.

Calvin and Hobbs illustration, good is not defined as just the absence of bad.

Empty routines challenged by intense commitment (Revelation 2:5) Remember, Repent, and Return. This is easy to preach yet hard to apply.

Remember: how they travelled with Paul and went house to house and how the church was founded. Have I forgotten from where I started, and how far I have fallen?

Repent: turn away from mere activity and turn to your first love. Grief over our short comings is often not present. The deeper the sorrow, the deeper the repentance. A preschooler saying “I’m sorry” is not repentance. Am I going through the motions? It there no real emotion or feelings for God and for others?

Return: go back to when we first met. The intensity, love, passion, purpose. Jesus needs to be our motivation for good deeds.

Conclusion (Revelation 2:6) Nicholatians, evil people, promiscuous leaders, false teachers. “Don’t just hate what Jesus hates, love what Jesus loves!”

Mother Teresa quote: Gods love for you is infinite, your disregard for the church is finite, “focus on the infinite and allow it to overcome the finite.”


Questions for Further Study:

  • Why does love—even the most fervent and committed love—sometimes grow cold over time?
  • What are some mementos or heirlooms you are especially attached to?
  • What is something you remember loving dearly as a child that you eventually outgrew?
  • If Jesus were to write a letter to our church, what do you think He’d say?
  • If Jesus were to write you a personal letter, for what would He commend you, and in what ways would He correct you?
  • What do your actions say about who or what is most important in your life?
  • What do you think Christ meant when He said, “You have forsaken your first love”?
  • What does it mean to repent?
  • What about our faith are we prone to “outgrow”?
  • At what time in your life did you feel closest to God or the most dedicated to God?
  • How would you assess the health of your relationship with Christ right now?
  • What can cause us to lose our love for God?
  • How can we keep our commitment to Christ from waning over time?
  • Besides knowing all the right answers and doing all the right activities, what do we need for spiritual vitality?
  • In what concrete ways can you show today that Jesus Christ is your first love?
  • What is one step you can take this week to build the quality of perseverance in your faith?
  • What can you do or say to encourage a Christian friend to remain loyal to Christ?

Change of Heart and Mind

What a change occurred in Saul’s perspective after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus! Leaving on his journey, he was sure that what he believed was right. When Jesus’ voice pierced Saul’s heart, his whole worldview turned upside down. Everything Saul thought he knew had to be rethought: his understanding of truth, his worldview, his life mission. This encounter was just the beginning of his transformation from Saul the persecutor to Paul the apostle to the Gentiles. What difference has encountering Jesus made in how you live and lead?

As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. — Acts 9:3-5

We often see this passage only in the context of salvation (Saul’s conversion on the Damascus Road) but let’s broaden our understanding of Paul’s experience to being confronted with new truth, which forces him into a decision.

Let’s also make this personal. Active church people need to take the introduction of truth (let’s enter here the preaching of God’s Word on Sunday) and decide what to do with the challenge put in front of us.

Ken is preaching January through February on a topic that we can easily dismiss. Perhaps you will justify, “I am pursuing God because I attend church on Sunday.” When we assume this position, we can easily miss the very thing that the Holy Spirit wants to do in our lives. We each must pray and reflect on where we stand with Jesus to discover what God wants us to do and how he wants us to change.

I hope you will listen again to Ken’s introductory message on moving “From Apathy to Intensity” and see if God is speaking to you and challenging you to make some adjustment toward a higher level intensity in your faith.

[Part of this post is from the January 14 Lead Like Jesus devotional, and the image: SON OF GOD Movie, Scene 10/29 – Damascus Road; Paul (CON O’NEIL) sees Jesus (DIOGO MORGADO) and is thrown from his horse]

When We Come Together

When We Come Together
(Preparing Our Year Ahead for Worship)
1 Corinthians 11:17-26

The Vital Issue of Public Worship (1 Corinthians 11:17) (4 facts that make participation in a public worship service necessary) Newspaper editorial, why go to church? Can’t remember one sermon over 30 years. Response came, like eating my wife’s meals over 30 years, yet can’t remember one of them but they nourished me and without them I would be dead.

  1. The Bible encourages accountability to a particular church ministry. Hebrews 13:17, leaders keep watch over you and will give an account. Our pastor knows us personally, not like a TV preacher.
  2. The Bible gives examples of how spiritual breakthrough can happen in public worship. Psalm 73 – when I came into the sanctuary, it all became clear. God bats last. The truth of God was revealed. In the context of public worship.
  3. The people of God are called together corporately for worship. Psalm 95:1-6 – shout before him, worship bow down kneel down. Ephesians 5:19 – come together to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.
  4. The biblical model of the original meetings of the church included fellowship as a priority. Acts 2:22 – come together to break bread… Hebrews 10:25 – don’t forsake coming together. Hold one another up, to encourage one another.

A Critical Problem to Confront (1 Corinthians 11:18-22) (Paul’s Instructions with the Lord’s Supper) Bonhoeffer quote, not an ideal ritual to do every month, but it is a privilege to participate.

  1. The Primary Concern: the proper attitude and practice of public worship. Division, factions, spills over to the fellowship. Worshipers needed the proper attitude in public worship.
  2. The Cultural Context of this Concern: the observance of the Lord’s Supper. Observance of the Lords Supper. It is not going well with you all. People wanted their own portion. The meal attached to the Lords Supper, love feast, activity was building from former pagan influence. In homes, of the more affluent, more notable members get the premiere seats in the dining area, other where assigned out back. The wealthy brought a better menu. Arguments over coming to the table, wanting their own preferences?
  3. The Spirit of The Problem: personal preferences over unity. What I desire becomes a priority, then fellowship begins to diminish and social hierarchy rises.
  4. The Accountability: “shaming the house of God” – unjustifiable.

A Re-commitment to the Centrality of Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) (The Importance of the Lord’s Supper) All things revolve around Jesus. Paul brings in the contrast from Jesus’ words to the fact of reality.

  1. The Proper Framework: the bread and the cup
  2. The Proper Symbolism: the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our Salvation. The sacrifice for our salvation.
  3. The Proper Witness of the Church: proclaiming His death until He comes. He provides a proper witness. The entire gospel… suffering through his return.

Remember: “I am not here for my portion, but to bring glory to Christ.” Reaffirm the centrality of Jesus.

Set Apart with a Promise

Set Apart With a Promise
Joshua 3:1-6

A survey regarding the Holidays, 72 % of Americans enjoyed best going home and having people coming in to visit.

Preparation for going home for God’s people: today we are going to look back, look around, and look ahead.

God says to “Consecrate yourselves TODAY.” Genesis 15:18, God gave the descendants the land. For tomorrow, God will do something amazing in your midst. Consecrate means “set apart with a purpose.” Does God want to do something new in my life, my job, or my family? The people of Israel are about to step into a brand new chapter in their lives. Joshua and the spies had seen the land, Jericho was on the horizon. Their forty years of wandering have come to a close.

Look Back: Commanded the people regarding the ark, when it was time to move, they would break camp and follow the ark. Yet, they are told “don’t go near it.” It is Holy. Why keep your eyes on the ark? Because you have never gone this way before. To a place you’ve never been (geography) in a way you have never traveled (procedure). The point is: Don’t miss the way of the Lord, especially since this is all new.

There is a Problem – you’ve never gone here before. Luke 1:57, Jesus is to guide our feet in peace. Perhaps you have received a diagnosis, you never traveled this way before, a career change or obstacle, in your relationships, there are time we don’t know how to react. Jesus came to give light in darkness.

There is a Resolution – keep your eyes on the ark. Don’t perform a routine ceremony, but at his presence, we find he is in the past, present, and future. Looking back is okay, so we can see where God was faithful in the past. But don’t be like the minority report and the people, preferring to go back to Egypt, preferring the way things were before. Remember Keith Green, “So, you wanna go back to Egypt…”

The ark represented God moving his people in the right direction. In Numbers 14:40-45, God and the ark were a constant presence even in murmuring. The ark represented guidance. The tablets were in the ark, which was a testimony of God among his people.

Ken spoke of an Indian tradition, of boys transitioning to manhood, they would spend all night in the darkness, then when the sun rises, each would see the silhouette of their father with arrow drawn, protecting the boy all night. Psalm 125, always with us and faithful.

Look Around: Consecrate YOURSELVES. Is is not all on God, but some is on me. Holiness is my work, righteousness is on God. We are not passive in holiness, hoping God’s righteousness will rub off on us. It is not our attempt at goodness. Holiness will not happen unless we totally abandon ourselves to God.

Why travel 1000 yards behind the ark? To see it out front. They will no longer see the fire and the cloud. This is a procedural change that blew their minds. Also, the holiness of God’s presence, this is non-negotiable, they are to keep their eyes on the ark. This washing of clothing is not to look good, but represents a clean heart that belongs to God.

Application, 1 Peter 1:15, be Holy as God is holy. What in my life is not surrendered to Jesus? When we think we are clean, God says, “what about this, or that?”

Look Ahead: How much will I be a part of what God is going to do, in my life of in this church? What we do will not stop God’s plan. 1) This promise is THOROUGH, all people made it across the river. 2) God always MAKES a WAY, he may not act until we first step out in faith. 3) It was COMPLETE, all he said actually happened. This is Genesis 15:18 fulfilled, because the land was a step toward the full blessings for those alive in Christ.

Whatever is in the Jordan, these are the things which are between you and God’s promises. God will be with us, so don’t miss what he desires.

Love That Astonished the World

LOVE that Astonished the World
Luke 2:15-20

How to live astonished:

  1. Let the message bring a sense of urgency (Luke 2:15)
  2. Let the message bring enthusiasm (Luke 2:16)
  3. Let the message encourage responsibility (Luke 2:17)
  4. Let the message bring wonder (Luke 2:18)
  5. Let the message bring private devotion (Luke 2:19)
  6. Let the message bring genuine worship (Luke 2:20)

The Need for Peace

PEACE that Overcomes and Overwhelms

JESUS CAME TO BRING PEACE – AS FORETOLD AND PROCLAIMED IN THE SCRIPTURES…

  1. By Isaiah, the messianic prophet. And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6
  2. By the heavenly host, at the birth of Jesus. “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” – Luke 2:13-14

— The Prince of Peace came to bring peace to men of good will.

What is that peace? Here is where the outline in your bulletin begins…

THE PEACE THAT JESUS OFFERS

According to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is…

Personal – “Peace among men with whom he is pleased” Personal peace can come in two ways…

PEACE WITH GOD…

  1. Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” so this reminds us that since we have been made right with God through faith in Jesus Christ, we have peace with God.
  2. James 4:4 tells us that “do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” When you are an enemy of God, there can be no peace. He requires total surrender, coming to him on HIS terms, not our own.
  3. Paul says in Colossians 1:20 – “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”

— The bottom line? Without peace with God, no real peace is possible

PEACE WITH MYSELF…

  1. Jesus offers peace inside, unfazed by the world around us. Consider Paul’s teaching in Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  2. In a world of trouble and distress, Jesus encourages his followers in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
  3. Also in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
  4. Jesus also gives us peace even in the task (or the mission) that he has for us to do, in John 20:21, “So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

— Jesus provides peace that surpasses all understanding

Finally, according to Luke 2:14, this PEACE is also…

Practical – “On earth peace among men…” we are not alone on this planet, rather we love in community.

PEACE WITH OTHERS…

  1. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:28 that Jesus breaks down the barriers between other people. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
  2. Paul tells us the same thing in Ephesians 2:14 he tells to “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,”
  3. Peter tells us to “be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. 10 For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. 11 “He must turn away from evil and do good; He must seek peace and pursue it.” – 1 Peter 3:8-11

— Jesus makes peace between mankind possible.

CONCLUSION:

So, when the Old Testament Scriptures ascribed to Jesus the title, “Prince of Peace,” He was proclaimed as One who forever has a rule of peace (offering a right relationship with God, with one another, and with ourselves).

The standard of peace becomes a great way to spiritually measure our lives: am I at peace with God, with others, and with myself.

Can you imagine being so affected by the Prince of Peace that you daily walk in peace with God, with others, and with yourself? This is the message of Christmas: Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men…”

If you need peace, I’ve attempted to reinforce that there is only one place to get true peace, in the person Jesus Christ.

Joy That Changes Everything

Mary brought forth her first born son and God stepped into our lives.

The story of 650 choristers – Philadelphia Opera Company, in 2012, a large mall, everyone prepared to sing at noon, Handel’s Messiah. The responses of the focused and determined shoppers, one raised her arms in worship, others wiped tears from their eyes, they seemed astonished at what they heard in this public place. A post from an atheist read, “this got to me, it overwhelmed me, I approve,” from a Hindu, “I agree.”

JOY is found in those who worship him. Three facts in this passage…

Luke 2:7-9 – FOUNDATION

This is about history, so, don’t check out since I said history. We are reminded of the history of this event. Karen Hoyt wrote that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism. We need to return to the foundation of joy in history.

Mary brought forth her firstborn Son: the fullness of time was satisfied as well as all the Old Testament prophecies.

Fullness of TIME – Galatians 4:4 – God’s Son came through Mary, an amazing fact. The marking of time in history, the census was taken. Remember the Roman world. The Pax Romana helped take over the world. A common language helped to spread the message all over the world, Greek. Josephus says the people were waiting for something “next.”

There were 353 Old Testament PROPHECIES that were satisfied – the coming of the Messiah, 2 Corinthians 1:20 – all promises are YES and AMEN in Jesus Christ. YES (done) and AMEN (guaranteed with certainty).

All the fullness of HUMANITY – Isaiah 53:2 – the Suffering Servant came as a tender shoot, out of the dry ground, the lowliness of his arrival. Jesus learned obedience through his suffering, daily surrender to this restrictive earthly life and then there was the cross. He suffered as our example, so the fullness of humanity was satisfied.

Luke 2:10 – REALITY

Good tidings of great joy for all people. The highest of news is “good tidings.” “Tidings” is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing to the preaching of the gospel. This is the good news, from the evangelist. “Highest of news for the deepest of man’s experience.”

Joy is not the stronger muscle of the weaker happiness. There is real joy and fake joy.

FAKE joy is the vanity of Ecclesiastes, that which man desires and leaves him empty.

“REAL Joy is 1) the stirring of the soul 2) moved by the Holy Spirit and 3) focused specifically on Jesus Christ.” All this is for the furthest ears, it is for ALL people. All who heard were astonished. Psalm 67:4 – Let the nations be glad. The message is for all ethnos.

Luke 2:11-12 – SOURCE

A SAVIOR has been born, not a political leader. This is not an unusual term (many conquerors referred to themselves as a savior), but the term had not been used in this context. Isaiah 45:15 tells us the reason, for the destruction of sin. Do we lose our desperation for Jesus? Can it be like ignoring a ringing phone.

The CHRIST, the anointed one, it is irrevocable, there is no one with greater power.

The LORD, Exodus 3:14, the living one, the God who is.

The Revelation 19:16 – King of kings and Lord of lords.

Temple University and University of Utah study, that in homes that decorate for Christmas, there is found more joy at Christmas. Jesus is the centerpiece at Christmas. Joy is there even when happiness is fleeting.

Live in Joy, be astonished this Christmas season. Are you confused? Where do you stand with Jesus? Take the first step.

Life Group Questions:

  1. When does your Christmas tree go up? Who trims it? How?
    1. What other traditions do you observe for Christmas?
    2. What did you think about that study connecting Christmas decorations and joy?
  2. What is the most unique birth announcement you have every received?
  3. What do you imagine angels look like?
  4. If you could sleep out under the stars anywhere in the world, were would you lay down your pillow?
  5. Of all the people in the world the angels could have visited, why these shepherds?
    1. In what way or when has God spoken to you in ordinary life?
    2. If you had been with the shepherds on the night Christ was born, what would you have done after the angels left?
    3. In what ways did the shepherds obey that night?
    4. What should be our response when we discover God’s will and what he wants to do through us?
  6. What is the significance of the three titles given to Jesus in Luke 2:11? How about the three roles given to Jesus in the choir presentation (Shepherd, Savior, King)? What title or role of Jesus speaks best to you during this season of your life?
  7. Ken mentioned the flash mob singing the Hallelujah Chorus in the mall. How does the joy expressed by the atheist and the Hindu relate to how we can or should share Jesus during the Christmas season?
  8. Ken gave a Karen Hoyt quote, basically that our world is drawn to this season, but we have created a Christmas myth that covers the joy of Christmas, the wonder of the incarnation is lost, and we are left with depression, commercialism materialism.
    1. Why are people drawn to the ceremony and tradition of Christmas but not the Savior of Christmas?
    2. How can Christians capitalize on people’s openness to make a connection with non-believers?
  9. Ken mentioned that the Christmas story satisfies all time, Old Testament prophecies, and humanity, yet we are constantly chasing after things that will never lead to fulfillment or true satisfaction.
    1. What things in your life have changed your priorities and caused you to truly seek after Jesus?
    2. What are the effects of materialism in our society?
    3. Since there is so much depression, anxiety, and drug abuse in America, could there be a connection to the fact that we are an affluent nation?
  10. Ken spoke of real joy (joy that stirs the soul, through the Holy Spirit, and focuses on Jesus) versus fake joy (mankind’s desires and futile efforts to please others).
    1. What sort of fake joy have you settled for in your life?
    2. How would your life have been different had you focused on real joy instead of a counterfeit substitute?
  11. The phrase “glad tidings” is described as “the highest of news” and is in the book of Acts 15 times, always referencing the preaching of the gospel.
    1. What can believers do to help unbelievers know this good news and why it is so good?
    2. What is our responsibility when we discover these glad tidings?

Here is a “Good News Glad Tidings” Exercise:
As we approach Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus, we personally have so much for which to rejoice. As we look around this room (and KGBC as a whole), we have also so much to be thankful for in our community of faith at King’s Grant.

I would assume many of us know people who do not know Jesus. Let’s take time to pray for those people. Let’s list some people on our hearts (and on paper) for whom we are praying in terms of salvation and let’s pray together. Let’s take a moment of silence for each of us to prepare, then make a list and pray over that list. If time permits, go around the room and share a name before our closing prayer.

Let’s continue in this Christmas season with a goal to remember and continue to pray for those mentioned tonight and pray that they will receive the greatest gift of all.

Hope that Proclaims a Name

Hope that Proclaims a Name
Matthew 1:18-25

Adventus, meaning “the arrival.” The past, present, and future of our faith coming together. Advent is about an ancient longing for the arrival of the Messiah, the anticipation of the birth. We celebrate advent to remember his first arrival and anticipate his coming again, the second advent.

Survey: 2 out of 3 people have practiced or plan to practice re-gifting. Every year we have the opportunity to reopen the gift of Jesus here at Christmas. Be astonished!

Matthew 1:18-19 – Hope is from God.
Hope has a name. It all came about this way, this is one of two narratives of the coming of the Christ child. That which was impossible with man became a reality with God. This announcement was not uncovered but discovered. A Hebrew wedding was more complex than what we have in America today. 1) the arrangement or engagement, then 2) the betrothal, binding without consumption, then 3) the marriage itself, living together as a couple.

Mary became with child through or by the Holy Spirit, which speaks of the power of God through the Holy Spirit. There is a miracle in this conception. The role of the Holy Spirit is through all of this. Hope that is given is from the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit 1) conceived Jesus, and then 2) strengthened his earthly ministry, and then 3) then confirms that it all really happened; reality and hope coming into a broken world.

Romans 8:11 – the same Spirit that was in Christ is at work in you.

Matthew 1:20-21 – Hope clearly points to Jesus Christ.
The dream and the angel. 1) we see harmony here, two separate visitations; to Mary then to Joseph, God has this, it is all about Jesus, 2) we see Joseph addressed as Son of David, the connection is simple, the line through Joseph leads to the Messiah, 3) we see his name is called Yeshua, meaning salvation.

Matthew 1:22-23 – Hope defines our journey of faith.
All this took place, all what? These facts or statements in the text, yes, but all the prophecies were to fulfill the coming of Emmanuel. God with Us. We live our life today, taking God with us, we are on mission, we promote and embrace M3. Jesus is fulfilling every part of the prophetic message. He will build a kingdom forever, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, that comes through David and points to Jesus, and we are a part of the kingdom coming in the lives of others.

In the beginning of Matthew, we have “Emmanuel, God with Us,” then at the end of his gospel we read, “Lo, I am with you always, even until the end of the age.” Matthew begins and ends his book with hope. The Ravi Zachariah’s story of Stacey traveling overseas, the man was the doctor that delivered her and would make sure she arrived home safely to her family.

Matthew 1:24-25 – Hope calls us to true obedience.
Joseph did as the angel told him. He married her and kept her pure until she gave birth. He went from “I’ll handle this” in his own strength to submission to God’s will, plan, and timetable. Hope is the certainty of God when we can’t see what’s next.


Life Group Questions for December 5

  1. What are some tabloid headlines this week? Who’s been in the grocery store line to read the covers?
    1. Why is our society so drawn to gossip and scandal? In this day and age, does the story need to be true?
    2. How do people typically react when facing an embarrassing situation?
  2. What are two positive qualities about your mom and dad that come to mind when you think back to your childhood?
    1. What do you know about your parents’ courtship?
    2. How did your parents pick your name? Who’s got a story?
  3. Had you been Mary, what would have first popped into your mind?
    1. What did Joseph initially think when he heard the news (Matthew 1:19)?
    2. How would you have felt if you were in Joseph’s place?
    3. Had this couple been in our church, how would our congregation have handled this awkward situation?
    4. How do you think the “grapevine” would have treated Mary and Joseph?
    5. How does it feel to be the victim of unsubstantiated rumors? When people attack your character and you know that you are innocent?
    6. Did the incidents in this passage likely strain or strengthen their marriage relationship?
  4. The passage tells us that Emmanuel is “God with us.” When did Jesus become a warm person to you, not just a character found in the pages of the Bible?
    1. How have you recently experience Jesus as Emmanuel? Who has a story?
    2. We all seek meaning and purpose in life, what does this passage say about the purpose of the incarnation (Matthew 1:21)?
  5. What do you learn about faith from Joseph?
  6. How will you respond the next time someone begins to tell you a juicy bit of gossip?
  7. Ken’s message was all about HOPE, 1) that it is from God, 2) points clearly to Jesus, 3) defines our journey of faith, and 4) calls us to true obedience.
    1. Where are you on this journey? 1) just starting, 2) at a rest stop, 3) on the shoulder with a flat, 4) nearing your destination, 5) not even packed, 6) somewhere else?
    2. What difficult, hard-to-swallow command of God do you need to obey today?
    3. What makes obedience so difficult?
    4. Who has a story about a time you stepped out in faith and God came through and made quite a difference in your life, or the life of someone else.

Don’t Forget the Name of Christmas

Due to a technical difficulty, there is no audio or video of this week’s message, but we have these sermon notes and Life Group questions.

Do Not Forget the Name of Christmas
Hebrews 1:1-4

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. [NASB]

  1. How are you like your mother or father? (a talent, ability, characteristic, habit, distinctive feature)
  2. What does (or did) your father do? Would you ever consider taking over the family business? Why or why not?
  3. What are some restaurants, vacation spots, books, movies, or other areas of interest that you consider the best of their kind? What made them so much greater than the rest?

Ken began mentioning the Christmas Countdown – 30 days until Christmas. Culture – half of Americans believe in the virgin birth. Most Americans believe the spiritual part of Christmas is fading away. Happy holidays vs. Merry Christmas. Those who believe the birth of Jesus is fact, down to 55%. The sacredness of Christmas is fading too. A dangerous shift from the sacred center of Christmas. So, here are facts that define the event…

  1. What is a good way for Christians to help keep Christ in Christmas, in our society’s ever-increasing elimination of Christianity from the public square?
  2. How has modern materialism become such a distraction during this holy remembrance of our Savior’s birth?

  1. The History: the story behind the story

Ceremonies of the OT compared to the new faith of Christianity. The fulfillment of every part of the OT story. God spoke clearly, in this history. Two ways to understand this history. 1) God has always spoken in history, 2) every word spoken pointed to Jesus. God spoke to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses… trekking all through the prophets, for 3000 years of God speaking, then 400 years of silence, then God spoke his final word, the Messiah is here, plainly and specifically telling us about Jesus’ coming.

  • John 5:39 – you are studying the Scriptures for eternal life, but they testify of ME.
  • Luke 24:27 – beginning with Moses and the prophets, taught the things about himself, in ALL the Scriptures.
  • Galatians 4:4 – in the fullness of time God sent his Son.

Larry King, who is the one person and to ask one question. I would ask Jesus, “is the virgin birth real?” If so, it would change everything, it would define history for all of us.

  1. What are the key differences between God speaking through the prophets of old and God speaking through his Son?
  2. Ken mentioned that all things in the Hebrew Scriptures pointed to Jesus. What lesson might we apply to our lives today? (all that we are and stand for should also point to Christ).
  3. What is significant about having a personal relationship with the heir of all things? How many people can say they have a personal relationship with world leaders, presidents, or kings? So, where do believers stand with the fact of being children of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe?

  1. The Advent: the miracle of the birth

Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and nature. Jesus sustains it all by the power of his word. It is not that he has spoken through the prophets, and then now through the Son, but he summarizes all things through the son, It is not then versus now, he came to fulfill, the completer, the greater than, all who came before him. Not prophets first and Jesus second, but Jesus fulfills what the prophets said. The baby came as creator and sustainer. The baby is the complete and perfect representation of the Father.

  • Past – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus made all things, the universe.
  • Present – Hebrews 1:3 – Jesus sustains all things by the power of his word, upholds it all. The perfectness of the universe, he is in charge of it all. He is the Presence, Power, Proprietorship of God.
  • Future – Hebrews 1:2 – Jesus is the heir of all things. Philippians 2 – every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that he is Lord.

Jesus is the exact representation of God, not a model, all God’s glory and holiness is seen in the person of Jesus Christ. The terms expression or nature is more like character, (the essence of discipleship – the student becoming like the master) like a mold for coinage, so all would be identical. Not one detail is left out. This baby is God coming to us – Emmanuel, “God with us.” For millions, Christmas has become decentralized, it is only the “holiday season.” Why? They have lost the sense of marvel and astonishment of the event. They don’t remember the miracle.

  1. How is the birth of Jesus the greatest miracle ever?
  2. Since God’s Glory was stamped on Jesus, how does this parallel our experience in relation to our justification, life-long sanctification, and eventual glorification?

  1. The Life: the sacredness of His ministry

This sacredness is defined by Jesus’ life and ministry. Hebrews 1:3 – he made purification for sin, he sat down. Jesus has fulfilled all the ceremonies of the OT. All the requirements are fulfilled according to the Father’s will. Jesus did not come just to show us a better way to worship but came to be the sacrifice for sin.

  • 1 Timothy 1:15 – Jesus came to save sinners.
  • 1 Peter 2:9 – called out of darkness into his marvelous light.
  • 1 Peter 3:18 – Jesus died, the just for the unjust.

Jesus sat down: how would God allow such humiliation of his Son? After, he took the most powerful seat in heaven. All this so we can have eternal life.

  1. We looked at the secularization of our culture against the sacredness of our incarnational celebration. How have Christians lost the sacredness of this moment that Jesus came to earth?
  2. Since Jesus is the Sustainer of all things, in relation to our salvation, what are some ways and reasons that Christians lose the sense of awesomeness of the Christmas season?
  3. The text tells us that Jesus made purification for sins. How is the New Testament sacrifice of Christ greater than the Old Testament sacrificial system? (OT blood of animals covered sin, NT blood of Jesus cleansed sin; OT sacrifices were annual and regular, NT sacrifice of Jesus was once for all time and unrepeatable).

  1. The Identity: the power of His name

Hebrews 1:4 – Jesus is a higher rank than angels, always so, but he is not in heaven. Heaven is not so we can be absent from earth but, so we can be present with Jesus. Angles are not to be worshipped.

  • Past – Jesus’ parents gave him the name Matthew 1:21, Isaiah 9:6
  • Present – call on his name to be saved, Romans 10:9-10, 13
  • Future – One day we will see him face to face… Philippians 2, every knee will bow, and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord.

Wrap up Questions:

  1. Why do you think the author of Hebrews made such a point of Christ’s deity to these Hebrew Christians?
  2. What impact would you suspect these words had on Jewish Christians who were considering returning to Judaism?
  3. What difference does it make to you that Jesus sustains everything by His powerful word?
  4. Jesus can easily use his power to humble us into submission, but what does that do to our free will? (every knee bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord).
  5. What in your life tempts you to back away from your commitment to Christ? How can you be more committed to obedience?
  6. What steps can you take to remind yourself that Jesus is the Son of God and worth following?