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!
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:
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:
THE PRINCE OF PEACE
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?
5. What quickens you from Isaiah 2?
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
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?
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.
10. What is the promise of Isaiah 1:18? How can you apply this today?
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.
13. What quickens you from Isaiah 6?
14. What quickens you from Isaiah 7?
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?