GOD WITH US (Advent 1)

Advent 2016 has arrived, and how we need it!

We will look at passages from Isaiah this Advent, and I am thrilled that this is how the Lord is leading. There so many parallels to where we are today.

In America we’ve just been through the basest election season in my lifetime, and perhaps in history. There was time when Lincoln and Douglas referred to one another as “my honorable opponent.” But in 2016, all civility vanished. Both sides poured out vile words, harsh ads, and personal attacks.  Facebook was filled with tasteless posts, even from believers, that revealed a festering oozing wound, like the wound God saw in His people in the days of Isaiah. (Isaiah 1:5) Our Canadian and European sisters have written that they have preceded us in a cultural downward spiral. Believers from poor nations are growing in strength and numbers, but in the Western world there is so much about Christianity that is shallow.

We must see this wound in our own hearts.

The best way to prepare for the Christ child is by experiencing a renewal of intimacy with Him. So this Advent, we are going to concentrate on being with Him at the start of each day!

It was to God’s sinful people, a people just like us, a people who walked in darkness, that God promised:people-who-walked-in-darknessepiphany-3-jesus-calls-his-first-disciples-2-638

I remember asking my daughter’s public high school choir director how he could get away with having them sing Handel’s Messiah (based much on Isaiah) since it was so explicitly Christian. He said, “I simply tell my critics I am only going to teach the best music — and Christianity has produced the best music.” You may know that Handel credited The Messiah to the Holy Spirit, for we know for certain he composed it in a very short time in the summer of 1741, and when he got to the Hallelujah chorus, his assistant found him in tears saying “I did think I saw heaven open, and saw the very face of God.”

You will find not only healing in Isaiah, but AWE at how the prophecies from over 700 years before the the birth of Christ were so literally fulfilled. We will not shrink away from the convicting messages, for in order for healing to happen in our own hearts, we must realize our need for cleansing. But then there is this wonderful promise:

sinsasscarlet

How God’s people need healing, both from a sinful world and of our own deceitful hearts. How we need to draw near this Advent to the One whose name is:

WONDERFUL COUNSELOR,

MIGHTY GOD,

EVERLASTING FATHER,

THE PRINCE OF PEACE

princeofpeace

And one day,  He will reign forever and ever, for

THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE UPON HIS SHOULDERS! 

This week you will read a chapter of Isaiah each day, culminating in chapter 7, where Isaiah tells us that the name of the child to be born of a virgin will be Immanual.

GOD WITH US.

HE HAS PROMISED TO BE WITH US.

NOW, EACH DAY, LET US BE WITH HIM.

I LOVE HOW SARA GROVES PUTS IT:

1st Sunday in Advent, 2016

I’ve listed days of the week to help you pace yourself, but you certainly can go at your own pace. The sermon is great, but optional. Already we have newcomers! Welcome Gayle, Susan from Florida, and Lynn from West Michigan!

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

2. Share a moment this Thanksgiving for which you are thankful.

3. How will you be intentional about drawing near to the Lord during this Advent?

4. This week, each day, read a chapter from Isaiah and share anything that quickens (jumps out at you — so that you sense God being with you.) What quickens you from Isaiah 1?

Bible Study

Monday

5. What quickens you from Isaiah 2?

Tuesday

6. What quickens you from Isaiah 3?

When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was distressed at the state of his beloved country Germany during the time of HItler, he came to America and found that just as his people were sick with a hatred of Jews, Americans were sick with a hatred of African-Americans. He went to the churches for help, and found them distressingly weak. But God led him to an African-American church where the truth of the gospel was vibrant, and he found healing to his heart, and a balm to his soul. For there is only one balm in Gilead, there is only one Prince of Peace. When I watched the following video it did for me what George Mueller says we must do every morning: “Get our souls happy in the Lord.” What I see in this is true brothers and sisters who share my faith with all their hearts, confirming this blessed tie that binds.

 

7. Read Isaiah 1:1-5

A. According to verses 2 and 3, how does Isaiah say the ox and the donkey are wiser than God’s

        people?

B. How sin-sick were God’s people, according to Isaiah 1:5?

C. How can you show the Lord that you long to hear and respond to Him today, and as you

         contemplate how to approach Advent? Be still and ask Him what is important and what is not,

   and then set goals for yourself.

8. Read Isaiah 1:12-17.

    A. What does God not want from them. What does this mean for you?

    B. What does God want from them?

    C. So often we substitute religion for Christ-centered living. Repeatedly the prophets denounce

         this. How might you apply this this Advent?

Wednesday

9. What quickens you from Isaiah 4?

Last week our own Wanda posted this wonderful video and I thought about the difference God’s people can make in the lives of others. This is the kind of giving we can participate in that so pleases the heart of God.

How Beautiful The Body of Christ Can Be!

10. What is the promise of Isaiah 1:18? How can you apply this today?

 

Thursday

11. What quickens you from Isaiah 5?

12. Read Isaiah 7:14

A. What is the promise?

B. Why it is vital to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? There is more than one reason! (See

      Matthew 1:21 for one.)

C. What does it mean to you that his name will be Immanuel? When is the last time you sensed His nearness?

The following is a four minute video with words Charles Spurgeon preached on “Immanuel – God with Us” on a Christmas Eve in 1854.

https://

Friday

13. What quickens you from Isaiah 6?

Saturday

14. What quickens you from Isaiah 7?

Optional Message

R. C. Spoul gives us an overview of Isaiah. (The very end is an offer that was when the program aired live — so you can skip it.)


15. Any comments on the above?

16. What is your take-a-way from this week and why?

 

COMMENTS (277) Post a New Comment ↓
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Uh Oh.    I posted a longer reply and it seems to have disappeared.  I wrote it in an email to myself and copy/pasted it here.  I hope it didn’t turn out as gibberish as I haven’t seen happen for a long time now.    Anyway….it will probably show up!  
 
 

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testing….testing…..123.       
I’ve had two posts disappear….just checking.  
 

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    So sorry Wanda — I hoped they would be in the box to be approved, but they were not.

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      that’s the strangest thing.    I had typed it out in an email to myself to come back to later.   when I copy/pasted and posted here….it looked like it worked fine but never showed up.  I tried again and it seemed to be working fine.   i thought too, that they must have needed approval.   Oh well.  No problem!   just a mystery.  :)   

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Yes Dee, will pray right now for your tea & that words will flow from the Holy Spirit within you!
Isaiah 5 hit me this morning; men including some of my family members, have trampled on  the Living Word & scorned & rejected Him. It breaks my heart to see that & I prayed afresh for thier eyes to be opened & the veil to be removed. May my heart be tender & open to receive & honor & glorify Him.
Immanuel: what a wonderful name & reminder that He is always with us & leading us, whether we feel Him or not. Felt close this morning tho  :)
So good to read all your different perspectives & words of honesty & wisdom!

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    Thank you, Jenny. He was with me — Immanuel!

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7C. How can you show the Lord that you long to hear and respond to Him today, and as you
         contemplate how to approach Advent? Be still and ask Him what is important and what is not,
   and then set goals for yourself.So, here’s the answer, finally.  This is not what I expected — though I should have had a hint with the question about religion.  Somehow, I expected my answer to be more RELIGIOUS, more churchy, more Christian-sounding.  I guess I should listen to Him more often!!!What is important:  Doing my job well — i.e., responding to students and colleagues respectfully, compassionately, promptly & meeting deadlines.  Reflecting Christ’s love in my interactions with others (and actually interacting with others.  I’ve gotten SO introverted, but I’m not at all shy after I get myself out of the house.)  AND — spending time in the Word, but without guilt that I’m not spending enough time.  I can listen to Christmas music in the background if I want to.
What’s not important: more Internet (or store) shopping for Christmas gifts — 

Goals:  Some “goals” related to work already are built in as deadlines.  At this time of the semester, it’s habit just to keep plugging ahead to meet them.  But my goal is to be even more aware of the people on the other end of the grading (though some students don’t read comments anymore), and this question has increased my awareness.   Regarding social interactions:  Not a problem once I get out.  I am traveling again this weekend & that will mean I’ve been gone for at least a couple of nights every week for the last month.  I do tend to say “no” to social events more than I should.  About 4-6 weeks ago, I was getting back to “normal” and initiating times with others.  I’d like to get there again — not sure I will meet this, but another goal will be to initiate something once/week with people.  I was surprised how honored and open people became when I asked them to get together. It’s a little harder to share the Gospel with people face to face when I am in hiding ;)

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    Reneeisms:
    “I guessI should listen to him more often.”
    “It’s a little harder t0 share the gospel face to face when I am hiding.”

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12. Read Isaiah 7:14    Well, backing up a few verses; the Lord told Ahaz to ask for a sign (a sign of confidence that God had a plan?)  Ahaz refused to ask because he didn’t want to put God to the test. Isaiah told him that he not only tested men’s patience but now was testing the patience of God. And THEN comes the verse…..
A. What is the promise?  THEREFORE…..(see above)  The LORD himself WILL GIVE YOU A SIGN…..
sounds like since Ahaz didn’t ask…..God made it very clear and it is a sign that could ONLY come from God.   “A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  
B. Why it is vital to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? 
      Of course, his mother had to be a virgin to fulfill the promise.  And I think that she had to be a virgin because THAT was something that only God could produce…. I mean, while every child is a gift and a miracle from God…..one could always say that it was ‘just a human, natural event’ if the child had a human father.  But if he was born to a virgin who had never been intimate with a man…..it had to be the Lord’s doing.  It had to be the SIGN.   So, if people were paying attention to the prophecy and then they heard about Mary’s son……they would not question but that this was the chosen one.  
 
Also, by being born of a virgin….Jesus is inextricably united with God the Father.  He was ‘born of the Holy Spirit’ and it was affirmed that he was part of the Triune God as he had been from eternity.  
I was just thinking about how when a famous, very wealthy celebrity dies without a will  (as Prince died in Minnesota last summer) suddenly people come forward claiming to be a relative, an heir.  But no other mother’s son could come forward to claim to be the Messiah since only Mary was the only virgin who gave birth; thus fulfilling the prophecy. 
 

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I just love the video extract of Spurgeon’s  Christmas Eve sermon!   I found it on  YouTube and bookmarked it so I can listen often and share it later this month.  
I think I’ll look for a transcript too, because there are so many insights as to how much we depend on God being with us…..‘the strength of the laborer’....  etc. etc.  I need to go through and make a list.   It is wonderful and encouraging!   

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After listening to Sara Groves, I was thankful for my friends and family and the Advent season which draws us to gather. I have come to a growing awareness of what a gift a connected family is….what a strength it is….what a powerful witness it can be…what a protection it is

My husband and I are reading a John Piper advent devotional together, and in my classroom, I am reading Ann VosKamps “Unwrapping the gift” with my middle school students….but neither requires specific engagement with a particular scripture, which I am hungry for. And I always love Dee’s challenging questions.

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    Lizzy here does the John Piper devotional. Two good references for me — so very glad to see you here Cynthia.

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11. What quickens you from Isaiah 5?
 
So much here! The first part reminds me of SOS; there is a vineyard with plants (vines) that grow wild. This is Christ and me. I need to not run wild!
 
The second thing is am thinking of today is those who reject God and those who He reaches out to with an outstretched arm. I want to be that person; the one that doesn’t live for the “riches” of this physical world, but one who lives for Him and His riches. I need to be sharp and ready to go when He says it’s time. Pointed focus.
 
“He will raise a signal for nations far away, and whistle for them from the ends of the earth; and behold, quickly, speedily they come! None is weary, none stumbles, none slumbers or sleeps, not a waistband is loose, not a sandal strap broken; their arrows are sharp, all their bows bent, their horses’ hoofs seem like flint, and their wheels like the whirlwind.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭5:26-28‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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    Yippee — you are seeing more and more how Scripture hangs together.

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12.C. What does it mean to you that His name will be Immanuel?  When is the last time you sensed His nearness?
“God with me” means to me that my Lord is with me…I don’t ever walk alone.  Through the joys, challenges, and trials of life, the Lord is a consistent presence sharing, guiding, loving.  I feel incredibly blessed, and utterly unworthy of His attention and faithfulness.
 
When I am focused on the Lord I feel His nearness…e.g., It can be reading a devotion and sensing its purpose me for just that moment in time; reading His word and a having a text “pop out,” getting a clear understanding from Him of what the text means to me personally and/or at-large; those “a-ha!” (revelation) moments clearly provided by God; the love that envelops me when I am sad or distraught.  What is important is my awareness and focus, my turning to the Lord; He is always present.

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13. What quickens you from Isaiah 6?
The Gospel in Isaiah Isaiah 6: 1- 7 put me in wonder this morning.  After he was in the presence of the Lord-he was completely melted I mean the angels singing loudly Holy, Holy, Holy!! They couldn’t look upon Him for their wings covered their faces..I can’t imagine the scene! I don’t think Isaiah had to wrestle with it-I think immediately in the presence of God he saw his sin compared to God’s beauty-His Holiness. I am sure any tendency toward self esteem went out the window. :)) I am sure his deep guilt over his sins sored and most likely assumed he was a dead man before God-there is no hope for me..YET in verse 6 and 7 when the angel brought the burning coal to put on his lips-HOPE!! THE GOSPEL! How sorry for his sins yet how encouraged he must have been! His fierce holiness yet His love and mercy-just as fierce. Wow.
 
Just seeing Jesus here..and God refers to ‘us’ again in verse 8..I am thinking the Trinity. Amazing picture of Him-His Grace, Mercy, fierce Holiness and Love all in one chapter-all equally passionate!  What wonder!!
 
Who am I, but for your Grace-your righteousness all over me..In Christ alone I stand-my sins atoned-nothing I have done-NOTHING. you even wooed me and drew me to you ..Lord Jesus you are my life..yet I am struggling with self centered-ness from my comfort idol..I want to be more like you-help me. Help me to meditate on your beautiful scene in Isaiah- may the gospel melt me to turn today…Help it to go from my head to the deeper places in my heart and help it to spring out in my affections for you. Help my heart linger in Isaiah today- may it delight you so. I love you.

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    Amen, Rebecca, this scripture impacts me just as you described.
    I want to meditate on this beautiful scene: “when the angel brought the burning coal to put on his lips-Hope”

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I am so thankful to have a focus to pull me closer to God during this very sad advent for me, it is helping me to read all of the positive and uplifting comments and to see the videos and read the scripture. Thank you all for helping me to be held in Gods arms during this time

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    So glad, Donna.

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13. What quickens you from Isaiah 6?     This chapter is one that I think on fairly often as it is pivotal in Isaiah’s ministry.  It’s also a scene that is hard to see played out regularly, in our self absorbed society; even in our churches.    Being confronted with the holiness of God, immediately  Isaiah is humbled and sees his own inadequacy; his own sin.   No amount of persuasion can produce this response.  Only the Holy Spirit of God.      I have a note written in my margin from a previous study, that says that following this encounter with God,  Isaiah thus uses the term ‘HOLY ONE of Israel’ to describe God throughout the book.     It also stirs me to see how quickly and directly,  Isaiah gives himself to be God’s servant.    And lastly,  after hearing the judgements and purging that is about to come upon the cities and the land……there is still the promise that the holy seed will persist.  

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Thank you all for praying for the Christmas tea. It was wonderful. A big part was that women really brought their unbelieving friends. So wonderful.
Just yesterday I thought to throw in 100 little booklets from Alpha: Why Christmas. I offered them at the end to those who had more questions — but they had to come to a table to get them. They all were gone.
So keep praying. So exciting to be a Christian — and Rebecca, behind the scenes, always does so much to make things run smoothly.
Thanks for your prayers — they make a big difference.

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    Yeah!!!  That sounds like it went very well!

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    How good to hear, Dee!  
    I love that the ALPHA booklets disappeared!  

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    Ditto to Mary…Yeah!

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    Dee, how can I get some of those Alpha booklets? I tried looking it up online and found I could only get it in the UK..so not sure. No hurry but just thought I would ask. :) 

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12. Read Isaiah 7:14
A. What is the promise?
 
The Lord will give a sign.
 
B. Why it is vital to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin? There is more than one reason! (See
      Matthew 1:21 for one.)
 
Hmmm….is it because we need to know He was from God? A gift….not something contrived by man? Not someone born in and with sin? 

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I got some wonderful news today.  My previous two tumor markers had risen drastically (in the past couple of months) and my oncologist was mentioning moving on to another treatment plan (which would have been much more harsh on my body than my current pill.)  I sensed the Lord comforting me, even in that, but I did go to a doctor in a town a couple hours drive from here and got some alternative “bio-identical” hormones (testosterone pellets) the day after my last oncology appointment.  Well, I just had another tumor marker drawn yesterday and got the results today.  It has gone down by almost a HUNDRED points!  (93.5, to be exact.)  I’ve had a little worse pain for the past couple of days, so I was really getting nervous that maybe it was still rising…this is a wonderful surprise!  It has not dropped AT ALL in a year, much less by this much!  So, thank you all for your prayers.  I wanted to share this great news.

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    SO GLAD you shared here too Mary so all can celebrate! Truly answered prayer! PRAISING HIM for this gift!!

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      Praise God!  HE is so good!!! So happy to hear such good news. I will pray for more news like this!!

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    Joining you in giving thanks to God for this good news, Mary!   
    And how sweet to hear of the Lord’s comfort even when you were anticipating a harsher treatment plan.  
    Immanuel.   God with us.  

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    Mary, giving thanks right now! So happy for this news! :) 

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    Oh, Mary…wonderful news…WONDERFUL! Thank You, Jesus!

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    Oh Mary — this is absolutely wonderful! I am so very thankful for this news.

    Father in heaven, how thankful we would be if this treatment would continue to be effective. We pray for Your healing.

    In Jesus Name I plead

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    Yay!!! thank You Jesus!!!

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So glad for your good news, Mary, PTL!
 

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13.  What quickens you about Isaiah 6?  Verse 3:  “…Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts,
The [a]whole earth is full of His glory.”  I love this verse because, if we know Him, He gives us eyes to see that the whole earth testifies to Him!  

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10. What is the promise of Isaiah 1:18? How can you apply this today?
 That my guilt is taken away and my sin atoned for. This reminds me of Isaiah 6: 1-7. My heart is so so wicked yet He has covered it’s wickedness with His righteousness-wow..So I am a sinner wrapped in His righteousness..in awe and wonder!  
 
I still sin but it has been paid for and therefore I have no guilt and no condemnation before God because I am in Christ Jesus.  SO really how He is dealing with my sin now is to make me like Him. To transform me into His Image..and he has a lot more chiseling to do and today will be no exception! This makes me not want to sin today, but I know I will and when I do I want to turn quicker than normal because I did nothing, he did it all, so how can I apply this today? Well it reminds me not to listen to satan when he will whisper condemnation and it melts me to turn and run from my idols and run into His arms because He is making me beauitful-he is taking my sin and making it beautiful!! Oh. 
 
Reminds me of this song..THIS IS SO ME, but hallelujah SOOOO HIM!!!! AND BECAUSE OF HIS BLOOD ALL OVER ME HE IS MAKING ME BEAUTIFUL!!
Lyrics:
Brokenness Aside Leslie Jordan and David Leonard© 2011 Integrity’s Praise! /BMI and Integrity’s Alleluia! Music/SESAC CCLI#5881109

Will your grace run out If I let you down ‘Cause all I know Is how to run‘. Cause I am a sinner If its not one thing its another, Caught up in words Tangled in lies. You are the Savior And you take brokenness aside And make it beautiful Beautiful. Will you call me child When I tell you lies Cause all I know Is how to cry. I am a sinner If its not one thing its another Caught up in words Tangled in lies You are the Savior And you take brokenness aside And make it beautiful Beautiful… You make it beautiful, You make it beautiful 
 
Here is the You Tube video to the song: https://youtu.be/qXqvJb_IGak

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    thanks for sharing this song, “Brokenness Aside”, Rebecca. It is so touching with wonderful lyrics!

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Here are the words to Spurgeon’s Immanuel’s sermon in case somebody is interested. I was struck by the underlined words in connection with the science I teach in the classroom. Sometimes I just want to shout that Jesus is the answer to all of your questions, students!
“Immanuel.”  It is wisdom’s mystery,  “God with us.”  Sages look at it and wonder.  Angels desire to see it.  The plumb-line of reason cannot reach half-way into its depths.  The eagle wings of science cannot fly so high  and the piercing eye of the vulture of research cannot see it!  “God with us.”  It is Hell’s terror!  Satan trembles at the sound of it.  His legions fly apace,  the black-winged dragon of the Pit quails before it!  Let Satan come to you suddenly  and do you but whisper that word, “God with us” —back he falls—confounded and confused!  Satan trembles when he hears that name, “God with us.”  It is the labourer’s strength— how could he preach the Gospel,  how could he bend his knees in prayer,  how could the missionary go into foreign lands,  how could the martyr stand at the stake,  how could the confessor acknowledge his Master,  how could men labour  if that one word were taken away?  “God with us,”  is the sufferer’s comfort,  is the balm of his woe,  is the alleviation of his misery,  is the sleep which God gives to His beloved,  is their rest after exertion and toil.  
Ah, and to finish,  “God with us”  is eternity’s sonnet,  is Heaven’s hallelujah,  is the shout of the glorified,  is the song of the redeemed,  is the chorus of angels,  is the everlasting oratorio of the great orchestra of the sky!  “God with us”—
 
“Hail You Immanuel, all Divine,   In You Your Father’s glories shine!   You brightest, sweetest, fairest One,   That eyes have seen or angels known.”  

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    Ernema,
    Thank you for this entry on Spurgeon’s Immanuel sermon.
    So good to read this before I head out to our city’s production of Handel’s Messiah this afternoon.  

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13. What quickens you from Isaiah 6?
v. 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.
In the midst of any tragedy, in this case, the death of the earthly king, the King of Kings of Lord and Lord of lords, reigns, high and exalted! Here is hope at the beginning of the passage.
v.13  so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
In the midst of judgment, there is pronouncement of hope in the coming of the Holy Seed, the Messiah.
 
 Here is hope at the end of the passage.

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Saturday
14. What quickens you from Isaiah 7?
25 verses of doom for Israel and tucked in the middle is the promise, one of hope v. 14
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f
I maybe off here by way of application but I was struck by the loss of courage of Ahaz and his people when they heard that a third party (of Ephraim) is joining their enemies (Rezin and Pekah) to invade them. How often I allow the increasing threats ( on personal, and at national level) to make me “quake like trees shaken by the wind). The Lord is lord of it all! Instead I need to look to God who is the Sovereign over all the affairs of man. Today, He is still who He said He is-working out His purposes and protecting His remnant as generations go by until Jesus comes.
 
 

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I am in a roll here. LOL  My disciplined moments are very rare. So thank you, Lord for changing me. Your Word sure brings delight to my weary body and soul.
Saturday
14. What quickens you from Isaiah 7?
25 verses of doom for the king of Judah and his people and tucked in the middle is the promise, one of hope v. 14
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f
 
I maybe off here by way of application but I was struck by the loss of courage of Ahaz and his people when they heard that a third party (of Ephraim) is joining their enemies (Rezin and Pekah) to invade them. How often I allow the increasing threats ( on personal, and at national level) to make me “quake like trees shaken by the wind). The Lord is lord of it all! Instead I need to look to God who is the Sovereign over all the affairs of man. Today, He is still who He said He is-working out His purposes and protecting His remnant as generations go by until Jesus comes.

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C. What does it mean to you that his name will be Immanuel? When is the last time you sensed His nearness?
 
Immanuel means “God With Us.” He is ours, we are His! Thank You Jesus. 
 
He is with me always, I know this, and sometimes He does seem far away. I have been trying to keep Him near by listening to Christmas classical music, working on the blog, praying without ceasing during the day, praying for my neighbors daily, and reading the advent story (haven’t been as good at that one…). I am trying to eat well; stick to my diet, so I do a lot of praying when I get hungry and don’t have the right foods around me to eat. It’s hard, but I do feel He is near this week. He is helping me remember how important it is to know Him and to be close to Him no matter what. It’s partly my job too, right?

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    Right — our job is to remember His love covering us and HIs power propelling us. Helps us have an anchor and an engine.

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Laura, love this- ” I do a lot of praying when I get hungry”-never thought of that. I will be thinking of you whenever I get hungry. (Smile here)

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Loving reading all your comments & insights! Have to go to work now & will write later. Its my husband’s b’day today & I was inspired to pray afresh for his sopiritual eyes to be opened; to see the Light of the world who came for him. Please pray for his salvation! Thanks you. Will write more later.  :)

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    Jenny–praying now for your husband’s heart to be pierced, his eyes to be opened, that he may know his Savior!

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Yes, Jenny-praying for your husband. We have the hope in Christ and His good and perfect will for our loved ones as we pray for them.

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Yes, Jenny — praying! May he get a special visitation somehow this Advent!

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7. Read Isaiah 1:1-5
 
A. According to verses 2 and 3, how does Isaiah say the ox and the donkey are wiser than God’s people?
 
The animals know their owner, and who it is that feeds them. But God’s own, whom He calls sons, have revolted against Him and they do not know nor understand who they belong to, who provides for them.
 
B. How sin-sick were God’s people, according to Isaiah 1:5?
 
They are compared to a person suffering from disease; the whole body is sick.
 
C. How can you show the Lord that you long to hear and respond to Him today, and as you contemplate how to approach Advent? Be still and ask Him what is important and what is not, and then set goals for yourself.
 
The pressure for everything to be “perfect” is not important. The pressure to meet the expectations of others, whether real or imagined, is not important. I can show God that He is important to me by slowing down and making time for Him, and not letting Christmas crowd Him out. That sounds silly, because Christmas is all about Him, but what the world says Christmas is all about leaves no room for God. A goal I have for myself is to be more intentional about spending time with people. There is a woman I know, and when we run into each other at church we always say, “Let’s get together sometime for coffee” but it never happens, so I thought to myself, well, what about YOU initiating it? So I texted her yesterday, and this morning we met for breakfast.

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    Love this Susan. You obeyed His Spirit. How was the breakfast?

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      Really nice, Dee….it lasted for 3 hours! My friend is also a Christian and I had wanted to ask about her mom as she is in assisted living now but not doing well. Both of our husbands are unbelievers. We go to the same church. So, we have some things in common.

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I really like your goal “to be more intentional abut spending time with people”,  Susan. And to see you went right on with it! I want to do that, too. Another goal I have is to do more praise music- so I will start each morning and follow-up in the evening singing a praise song. today I started with Holy, Holy, Holy. It is such an awesome old hymn with an eternal message.
My take this week is trying to see the whole picture of the setting of Isaiah. I remember all the prophetic passages, but forgot how dismal was the background story as it is even now. Yet our need for forgiveness is the same.
 

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14. What quickens you from Isaiah 7?      I sorta talked about this in the earlier question about 7:14….but now re-reading the whole chapter from both the NIV and The Message,  I’m confused about vs. 15 and 16.   It must be talking about Jesus, since it is talking about the son of the Virgin……but what’s the stuff about the honey and the curds?    The Message makes it all clearer….but it seems to leave out that part.   Anyway….I’m going to listen to Sproul now and if I think of it,  I hope to do a little more research on that passage.  The promise is so clear…..but as Shirley just wisely said, it’s easy to remember the magnificent prophecies and forget how much wickedness was happening…..the back drop of the time in which Isaiah was living.    Eugene Peterson translates vs. 15 as ‘when he was 12 years old’…. which is intriguing, since that is when he stunned the teachers in the temple and is the only reference to Jesus as a child.  And this passage talks about him as a child.  I just don’t get the curds and honey and the historical setting of the kings and stuff.  

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    I think that when a child is old enough to be weaned and eat food is about two years — and that’s when the nation was invaded. Prophecy fulfilled.

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isaiah 7…marched up to fight against Jerusalem, but they could not overpower it….. And the devil marches up against us continually, but out God is mighty, and He has given us His armor to be able to stand firm (Eph 6).  How grateful I am tonight as I head off the my work Christmas party, which has a casino theme.

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Take away and sermon comment:  
I don’t know if you will see this Dee,  but THANK YOU so much for this week.   I have loved Isaiah for years and read parts of it often, but I feel like I understand it better now than ever.  I love the chapter by chapter asking us to share what quickens us.  It makes me think and not skip over portions.  And the sermon was a GREAT overview.   
 
I dare say that listening with my eyes closed and my headphones on to the reading of the great passages from Isaiah 7 and 9 and then the beloved Chapter 53 really did physically  make my “heart leap”.  It’s  a sort of  fearful and wonderful anticipation of something that you have known and loved but that never, ever, ever gets old.  Like a reunion of a loved one who has been away and you can just imagine what it will feel to have them back in your arms.     i guess that’s my takeaway…..the depth of the message that changes everything in our world and in our hearts one by one.   

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    Oh Wanda — this gives me joy!

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Immanuel…Heaven’s Halleluiah.  What stands out to me this week is that the Lord has a plan that he has been working since the beginning.  He knew the signs, he whistled the bee and the fly..nothing is random, nothing is unknown….like the hymn says…”God is working His purpose out as year succeeds to year.”

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    Oh Cynthia — I miss you — your way with words — your passion. So good to have you in my life this way!

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8. Read Isaiah 1:12-17
 
A. What does God not want from them. What does this mean for you?
 
Nila shared The Message translation of this passage which really helps me make it real to me today. God does not want their burnt offerings, their sacrifices, their incense, their assemblies, their worship services and feasts.  He doesn’t want to listen to their prayers anymore. Then, and now (for me), God does not want perfunctory religious activities. If my heart is not right with Him and with others, He does not want my church attendance, my giving of money, my Bible study, my personal prayer or Bible reading time. He doesn’t want my acts of service either. This is so convicting, from The Message: “And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.” Gossip, criticism, sarcasm, disrespectful speech, exaggerating, murmuring, complaining, “tongue murder”, tearing others apart if only in my thoughts.
 
B. What does God want from them?
 
Stop doing evil, stop sinning, stop treating people badly, stop promoting injustice and stand up for the widow and the orphan, learn to do what it right.
 
C. So often we substitute religion for Christ centered living. Repeatedly the prophets denounce this. How might you apply this this Advent?
 
Advent….it’s not a ritual for me to observe, even privately. It’s not an “I can feel good about myself because I light my Advent wreath and do my daily reading” when the rest of the time, I am not living out the gospel of repentance, turning away from my sin and turning to Him, asking for forgiveness, asking Him to help me love others the right way. Asking Him to rip out the yuck in my heart.

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I delayed in signing up for this.  I hope to be approved and will “catch up”.  Thanks for the invitation.

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    Gayle — welcome — sorry I was slow to see and affirm your post.

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Thank you for your prayers for my husband! It touched my heart & encouraged me  :)   And now I see that Susan’s husband is also an unbeliever, so may his eyes be opened to see the Lord too! I felt moved this week to be more intentional about reaching out to less fortunate. We have some guys at out church who come from a Nursing home each week. I wanted to show them that they are loved, so I gave them each a gift pack with toileteries & warm hat & socks. I pray that they will feel loved as they use the little gifts. I was blessed & am keeping my eyes & ears open to hear who the Holy Spirit wants me to reach out to this season, day by day. The Lord is always more interested in our hearts than anything we do, but I pray that He will keep realigning my heart to be in tune with His. Daily challenge for sure!  Thank you Dee for this study…it keeps me focused in my quiet time & full of anticipation. :)

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I didn’t realize I had to comment every week to get the updates, hopefully I now will be able to read what I missed. I am still struggling this advent season. Miss the joy this year. Praying and searching more than ever.

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    Donna–you don’t have to comment every week for updates. The current week is here: https://deebrestin.com/2016/12/how-great-our-joy-advent-2/comment-page-2/#comment-144045
    You can always go to deebrestin.com to get the new week’s lesson. Tomorrow morning, a new week will be posted, so if you go to deebrestin.com, you’ll see the link to the Bible Study blog, and the current week is at the top.
    If you DO want comments coming to your email, click the box below the comment field. I’m so sorry you’re struggling, praying for you now. We’re so glad you’re with us!

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      thank you for the help, I appreciate it

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