MAY THIS BE AN ADVENT LIKE NO OTHER
WHAT LOOSENS THE GRIP OF THE ICY FINGERS
OF OUR IDOLS?
COMING INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD
AND TRULY WORSHIPING
This Advent I will lead you through passages in Isaiah and the gospels that will help you behold His holiness, His beauty, and may we all pray that we will experience Him — as Isaiah did, as Mary did, as the shepherds did, as the wisemen did. For when you encounter God in His holiness, you are humbled, and if you start worshiping Him, you will stop worshiping your idol.
We saw it happen to our own dear Elizabeth last week — a breach with a friend, a posture of humility, a plea to God, a step of faith, an experience with a holy God, and the melting of an idol. And she found, as we all do, that idols reform, but that humility brings back the heat that melts them again.
We are seeing it with Diane, our newer sister from Canada — the impact of Tim Keller’s worship sermon has brought her into the presence of God, and she is excited to worship God this Advent and is already seeing the icy fingers of her idol melt.
Anne wrote me asking if we could incorporate more prayer this Advent, and I will. I will put it right within the Bible study and you can respond with a prayer request and others can pray for you as they feel moved to do so — either on the blog or silently. Though the purpose of this blog is primarily Bible study, one of the very most effective ways to pray is to pray Scripture — so we will do that, and in so doing, slam the window down on the icy fingers of our idols! If you have another emergency prayer request, we are glad to pray — but I’d love for you to give priority to the prayer request that comes from each week’s lesson. One author said we tend to pray to “feed our idols,” and by praying Scripture, we will not be so prone to do that. We also know, when we pray the Word, that there is power because we are within the will of God.
The sermon this week on our passage, Isaiah 6, is free, and is a stellar Keller.
Sunday/Monday Icebreaker and Download Sermon: The Gospel and Yourself (Isaiah 6)
1. What comment do you have on the above?
2. Contemplate how beholding God in His holiness has melted one of your idols. What connection do you see?
Bible Study (Monday-Wednesday)
Read Isaiah 6 and the following from My Utmost for His Highest. I will be quoting from this during Advent, for I think it is still one of the very best devotionals available, and bears reading and rereading.
When I come into the very presence of God, I do not realize that I am a sinner in an indefinite sense, but I suddenly realize and the focus of my attention is directed on the concentration of a sin in a particular area of my life. …The effect of Isaiah’s vision of the holiness of the Lord was directing his attention to the fact that he was a man “of unclean lips.” …The cleansing fire had to be applied where the sin had been concentrated.
Oswald Chambers (July 3)
Isaiah was so attuned to God, because of the great crisis he had just endured, that the call of God penetrated his soul. The majority of us cannot hear anything but ourselves.
Oswald Chambers (Jan 16)
Begin praying now that you will encounter God’s holiness this week and that He will show you specifically what needs to be cleansed. May we each be attuned to His call for us for each day.
3. Describe, in verses 1-4 what Isaiah:
4. Take each phrase of Isaiah’s response, meditate on it, and allow it to heat your heart. Write any comments:
A. Woe is me
B. For I am lost
C. for I am a man of unclean lips
D. and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips,
E. for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!
5. In verses 6-7, what did the seraphim do and what does this represent?
We are so focused on ourselves, it takes discipline and faith to focus on God and experience Him.
It is so hard to be still. So hard to give the sacrifice of worship. But it is the secret to experiencing God. Sing along with Hillsong, asking God to help you contemplate His holiness:
If you have a favorite Christmas carol emphasizing God’s holiness, sing it — and share it with us.
6. What did Isaiah overhear God saying and how does he respond? (Isaiah 6:8)
7. When you are still before Him, what are His primary callings on your life just for today?
8. PRAYER REQUESTS GOING WITH THIS LESSON
A. What idol, what area of your life does God’s searing sharply focused light shine upon? Tell us, and we will pray for you that the seraphim might fly to you with his holy coal of fire and cleanse you. (Please be sure to tell us if and when God moves in your heart.)
B. Name one loved one for whom you would like us to pray that he or she might experience the wonder of God, as Isaiah did. (Tell us if and when you see God moving in his or her heart.)
C. Anne shared that in one group each week they put one sister on the mat and prayed for her, referring to the story where four friends let a paralyzed friend down on a mat, through the roof, to Jesus.
This week let us “put Diane on the mat” and let her down to Jesus. Here is her testimony and request from last week:
As we approach the Christmas season, when I review my notes on Keller’s sermon on Worship, I realize I need to apply this to Christmas. For many years I have dreaded Christmas. I have felt an inordinate pressure to measure up to others. My husband’s family has a lot more money than we do and for years I have felt that they looked down on our simple gifts. I was jealous of the amount of money they spent at Christmas. After my husband’s mother died 11 years ago, his sister stopped speaking to us. …Bitterness because of this even has caused me to struggle with everything about Christmas (a terrible thing for a pastor’s wife)! I even resented how other churches had better Christmas programs than we had, because they were bigger and richer than we. These thoughts have taken away much of my joy at Christmas. As a result of this study, I realize God can change me in this matter. I do not want my hurt, and bitterness to be my lord any more. Comparison is a monster!
As I see my idol this year and realize that God’s love is all I need to be satisfied, to feel valued and is more powerful than my negative emotions, I am approaching the Christmas season with more hope and happiness than I have not had in many years. Please pray for me.
Let us pray that Diane so senses God’s love for her, and is so filled with His wonder, that she is willing to pay the cost of forgiveness, truly letting hurts go, and to know how pleased God is with this offering to Him and with all offerings of love. May He truly come to her, transforming her heart, giving her His joy and peace this Advent.
LISTEN TO THE FREE KELLER SERMON (THURSDAY-FRIDAY)
Keller quoted a friend who said Isaiah was going into worship and was shocked to meet God. May we meet God in our worship services this Advent!
9. Keller said Isaiah had a “God quake,” where concept became reality. What did he mean?
10. Share about a recent God quake in your life if you have had one.
11. First, Keller said, we must see the BEAUTY of the Lord. What do you remember about this?
Don’t answer this question on the blog, but in your own heart. Keller said most people give to feel good about themselves. Ask yourself — how am I giving in time or money secretly, simply because I love God?
12. Then we must be humbled. The man with the golden tongue had to be humbled. What do you remember about this?
One of the best definitions of the Gospel is illustrated by Isaiah 6.
Isaiah was deconstructed — he had to see how wicked he was, how needy he was of salvation.
Isaiah was rescontructed — he had to see how loved he was that God would rescue Him.
13. How does Keller relate this passage to Jesus and to the quake that came to Him?
14. What else stood out to you from the sermon and why?
15. What is your take-a-way for the week?