FAR AS THE CURSE (Advent 3)

WHEN LUCY STEPPED THROUGH THE WARDROBE TO NARNIA

lucyinnarniaSHE FOUND ANOTHER WORLD.

A WORLD THOSE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR FOUND HARD TO BELIEVE.

YET, IT WAS TRUE.

AND ONE DAY, WE WHO ARE IN HIM,

WILL STEP INTO THE WONDERLAND ISAIAH 11 DESCRIBES.

EXACTLY WHEN THIS WILL HAPPEN IS DEBATED AMONG THEOLOGIANS,

WILL IT BE DURING THE 1000 YEAR REIGN REVELATION DESCRIBES?

IS IT HEAVEN?

WHAT MATTERS IS THAT IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN,

AND BELIEVERS WILL “STEP THROUGH THE WARDROBE” INTO ANOTHER WORLD.

A TIME IS COMING WHEN EDEN WILL BE RESTORED.

NO MORE WILL SINS AND SORROWS GROW,

NOR THORNS INFEST THE GROUND.

FOR HE COMES TO MAKE HIS BLESSINGS KNOWN

FAR AS THE CURSE IS FOUND.

HE WILL BE OUR KING

AND THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD SHALL REST UPON HIM.

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HE WILL REDEEM OUR FALLEN WORLD

TO A PEACEABLE KINGDOM,

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AND THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE

OF THE LORD, AS THE WATERS COVER THE EARTH.

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WHAT A WEEK THIS WILL BE,

INCLUDING A SERMON THAT WILL FILL YOU WITH AWE.

FOR THIS 3RD SUNDAY IN ADVENT,

PREPARE YOUR HEART WITH THIS,

AND LISTEN TO SEE HOW THIS CAROL IS REALLY

ABOUT CHRIST’S SECOND ADVENT,

WHEN HE RULES OVER A PEACEABLE KINGDOM,

MAKING HIS BLESSINGS KNOWN,

FAR AS THE CURSE IS FOUND!

www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5hj518Iugk

STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN TELLS WHY

JOY TO THE WORLD MEANS SO MUCH TO HIM.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwOFtZQC8ZM

SUNDAY:

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

2. Are you experiencing His presence this Advent? If so, share how.

MONDAY-WEDNESDAY: Bible Study 

For those of us who were with us through Habakkuk, there are some similarities, even repeated verses. God was going to judge His rebellious people, and He was going to use a pagan nation to carry it out. But then, He was going to judge that nation: Assyria, the rod of His anger. I ponder the similarities to Islamic terrorists, and wonder what the future holds, yet I know He holds the future, and that in His time, as Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, He will make all things beautiful. (It actually says He has made all things beautiful, which, like Isaiah’s “unto you a child is born” has a verb tense so sure it as if it is already accomplished. God seems outside of time, as indicated by Revelation 3:18 that talks of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.)

3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.

Though it isn’t until Isaiah 40 that God tells Isaiah to Comfort His People, still, this seems appropriate here, after Isaiah 10:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dDjva1ecYo

stump-of-jesse-1Isaiah 11 tells us that a shoot will come from the stump of Jesse — as the near prophecy this was King David, but of course we see Jesus, the ultimate King. This King will usher in a “peaceable Kingdom.” When will this happen? Revelation 20 speaks of a time when Jesus will reign with his saints, mentioning “those who had been beheaded” for 1,000 years. Following this is the final judgment and a new heaven and a new earth. This may be what Isaiah 11 is referring to, or, other theologians, because of the symbolism of Revelation, are less comfortable making a timeline. R. C. Sproul says that because “Revelation 20 is the only passage that speaks of this, and because it is not obvious what is being spoken of, it has been a matter of controversy throughout the ages…Avoid the scandal of division over doctrinal nuance which is not relative to salvation.” I think it is prudent to agree that when this will happen is not as important as the fact that it will happen. The many already fulfilled prophecies of Isaiah are meant to give us confidence that the rest will be fulfilled as well.

Here is a short blog from D. A. Carson on Isaiah 10 and 11.

4. Comments on the above?

5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.

6. Read Isaiah 11 in the follow sections and share what you learn about:

A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5).

B. The peacable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9)

C. The highway of the Lord (Isaiah 11:10-16) You may want to listen to the sermon first for this one.

7. Did you learn anything new about the world that awaits you?

THURSDAY-FRIDAY SERMON

This is a wonderful message — I’ve also included a link to learn more about the preacher, Michael Lawrence. 


 

About Michael Lawrence

     

8. SHARE YOUR NOTES AND COMMENTS

SATURDAY

9. What is your take-a-way and why?

COMMENTS (150) Post a New Comment ↓
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1. What stands out to you from the above and why? I think Steven Curtis Chapman’s talk about Joy to the World and how extensively the curse affects us… and it will be NO MORE!  This will be my answer to #2 as well:  Right now, as I am experiencing a drop in my tumor marker, a man at my church (who’s 59) who also has stage 4 breast cancer (about 1% of breast cancer patients are men,) also spread to his bones, just got set up with hospice.  He has had a rough, adult life, he was married but his wife became an alcoholic and left him, with two elementary school aged kids, years ago (she later died of alcohol-related health issues.)  He never remarried, he was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back, did the whole gamut of treatments at that time, then his came back (metastatic, stage 4) more quickly than mine did, I think maybe just a year later.  He has been stage 4 for about 3.5 years now, and for the past year they have tried several different treatments with no remission of the disease.  He was hospitalized for the last week with severe pain and weakness.  They finally flew his daughter home from where she was stationed in England and set him up with hospice.  My heart has been so heavy with this, despite my own, recent good news.  None-the-less he knows the Lord and I feel excited to think that we will all be free of the curse one day.  No more death, disease, etc…and yet even more exciting…the whole earth will be filled with HIS glory!  I see His glory quite clearly in this fallen world, in sunrise/set, a starry sky…I love His creation!  What will it all be like when it is no longer tainted by the curse and the whole earth if FILLED with HIS GLORY!?  So, for #2, I have sensed His presence, reminding me that this life not only is NOT all there is, but truly is just a very faint glimmer.  

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    Mary, I echo Dee’s comment; thank you for this lovely, thought proking post…His sovereignty we cannot fully understand, but we stand firm in trust of His promises.

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    This is so poignant, Mary.    Oh…..to know so assuredly that this world is not all there is and that what awaits us cannot begin to be compared.  May this man you write of have a peace filled transition into the glory of His presence…whenever that may be….and may his daughter and other loved ones feel that presence of Immanuel now also.   Thank you for sharing so much from your heart.  

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    Mary, here I come along almost 12 hours later, and I am so touched by your post!   What an emotional experience it must be to watch this man from your church, making a parallel but not identical journey to yours.   I love that you can take comfort in the promise of freedom from the curse and the reign of Christ’s glory.   Thank you for risking and putting yourself out there, inspiring the rest of us!

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    Mary, You touch my heart. Yes, there is joy in knowing the curse will be removed, and these mortal bodies will be new and perfect.

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    Mary e, I love the sadness and hope you mingle with your post here regarding your story about the man with stage 4 breast cancer. There is so much sorrow in this “vale of tears”; but also so much beauty in creation and in people that is the faintest glimmer of the coming time when the “whole earth will be filled with his glory”. I always need that reminder.

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Oh Mary — what a beautiful post, what a beautiful heart you have. You encourage us all.

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?      You’ve woven together so many pieces here that speak so eloquently of the redemption and of both advents of Jesus….Isaiah,  Narnia, ‘Joy to the World’ and the beautiful photos and verses.  I paused a long while on the reading of the peaceable kingdom verse.  There is so much to consider in those words.  The lyrics of ‘Joy to the World’ plus the fact that the classic carols persist year after year, decade after decade, century after century! just brings such a sense of TRUTH and LIGHT to this season.   I always think it is so appropriate (though maybe not historically accurate) to mark Jesus’ birth during the darkest days of December.  There is a visual of darkness through much of each day.  And then songs like this one completely break through that darkness with their rich and powerful message.   I really liked Steven Curtis Chapman’s words.   Especially since I found myself very melancholy and sad yesterday, as I decorated my tree all alone and just miss my family a lot.  Pulling out ornaments that were my mom’s or that came from her and from others that I never see any more…..(I have an ornament that my sister in law made with pieces of my dad’s neckties after he died)…brought me a wave of sadness.   I didn’t really ‘recover’ all day.  So SCC’s words about his own grandmother and the realization that JOY comes to all…..as far as the curse (of sin and death) is found brought comfort.  
2. Are you experiencing His presence this Advent? If so, share how.     Yes.  Keeping His word in my heart and mind.   Singing and listening to the deeper lyrics of carols and trying to pray through my stress and/or setbacks…(We arrived at my favorite Advent concert…a glorious, skilled choir that sings at the Basilica in Minneapolis, using all the spaces in the sanctuary….the balconey, the aisles, the chancel…in very artistic ways and the acoustics are perfect….I look forward to it all year…and anyway, we got there, very early to get our tickets and seats and ended up having to leave due to me feeling sick…I have ‘gut’ issues that can come on so suddenly.  I was so sad to turn around.  I bought a CD before we left, but it wasn’t the same.)  That contributed to my melancholy yesterday.   A friend gave me the book,  ‘Advent in Narnia’ at the beginning of Advent…..yesterday’s reading was exactly what I needed at the end of a sad day.   Also,  just working SO hard to do so much anticipating my children and grandchildren coming later.   I put so much on myself.   

 
Prepare is a traditional command for the season of Advent, but so are WAIT, LISTEN and WATCH.  Preparing to receive Christ into our hearts sometimes means that we prepare by doing less, not more.’       

I needed to read that.   And I needed the words that Chapman spoke and your intro this morning.  

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    Wanda,  I think the holidays are a time when we tend to have remembrances of family members who have passed on.   My next-door-neighbor came over today and chatted for about an hour with me and my husband.   We listened while she seemed to endlessly recite stories of circumstances surrounding the deaths of many members from her family and her husband’s family.   It finally came to a point where she laughed and said “I sure do have a lot of death stories!”   However, many of her stories included an element of God showing up at those times.    For those of you who remember me telling — this is the same neighbor with whom we had to work through issues of property lines and maintenance access.   So, with that all behind us, I was glad that she felt comfortable sharing all of those stories with John and me.     

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      I DO remember you talking about this neighbor!  What a testimony of your patience and forbearance that you have this relationship with her……and it’s SO nice to have you back here today, Deanna!  I’ve missed you!!

        Thanks,  Wanda!

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      Deanna, yes how good it is to have you back. Your sharing is always so meaningful. This story of how you and your husband show love to your neighbor is wonderful. Thanks for the reminder of that situation that you had so much wisdom in handling.

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I too like the fact that Christmas comes at the darkest time of the year — have heard theories that it could have been — but glad we celebrate it then. Am glad you found comfort — the concert sounds wonderful. And Advent in Narnia intriguing!

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    We also woke up to Narnia-like landscape today.   We’ve been the only pocket in Minnesota that has only had a dusting of snow in December and our November snow had melted, so it is freshly beautiful here!  

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    Dee,   I know what you are saying about the darkest time of the year.   For those of us in the United States this is very true.  However,  I am also aware that, in other parts of the world — say, Australia — they are having their summer while we are having our winter.    It might be a lot brighter there.   Do we have anyone following from Australia?  If so, let us know!

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      Oh…..Deanna,  you are so right!  That was me who got started talking about Christmas being during the darkest months.  How silly of me to think only of my own hemisphere.  :)  Anyway….that’s been my experience, that I do love to have the twinkling lights dotting the dark landscape.  One year, I made 14 round trips of 600 miles to visit my mom, the last year she lived.  When I made the trips in December, I just loved to see homes with Christmas lights that broke the darkness of that long drive.  

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      Very good point! Looking at the world just from my little corner!

        Yes!  My corner of the world too! Today is bright with both sun and snow and a temp of 5! :D 

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      It’s funny you mention this, Deanna, because I once read someone’s idea (sort of prediction) that the rapture would occur around midnight (can’t recall their reasoning for this) and I remember thinking…. Who’s midnight?  The US’s? Japan’s?  etc…  we can be a bit egocentric, even when we don’t mean to be, we just don’t always think of those on the other side of the globe!  

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1. What stands out and why?     The photograph of Lucy from C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.   Last weekend I went to a one-man play entitled, An Evening with C.S. Lewis  with actor David Payne.  (You can find youtube exerpts.)   Have any of you seen him?    C.S. Lewis articulated the reality and hope of heaven in so many of his writings.  
 
This from Mere Christianity:  

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.
 
Mary ~ Your beautiful words above give credence to this.  Thank you!
 

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    I have seen Screwtape Letters done — but not this. Did you like it?

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    Nila..….I went to a one man performance of ‘A Grief Observed’ where the actor played Lewis and basically spoke/acted the entire text of the book.  I read it again, just before we went.  It was wonderful.   That is one of my favorite books on grief.   But I can’t remember the actor’s name….it was many years ago.  

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      I just finished reading a grief observed to try to recover a bit from my husbands recent death. I think his wife’s death and the way it affected him was so much the reason he constantly looked towards heaven. He couldn’t wait to get there. So very helpful to have those promises of a place where things will be wonderful and God will be all about us with no sorrow and no fear no hatred. CS Lewis is such a thought provoker. Many people tell me how hard this first Christmas will be without my spouse but I truly feel that Christmas gives me a reason to continue on to continue to struggle to deal with my feelings because right there in the manger is the hope of the world.

        I loved your stark statement of reality, Donna, in the midst of your palpable grief, “I truly feel that Christmas gives me a reason to continue on to continue to struggle to deal with my feelings because right there in the manger is the hope of the world.”  Truly profound, and life changing!  Praying for you at this difficult time. 

        Thank you for sharing this Donna.  You inspire me with your words about hope at Christmas.  Your grief is fresh and I really appreciate your perspectives.  You are on my heart.  

        That is such a good response, Donna, a good mindset.

        I have been sad too this Christmas thinking of my loved ones who have passed on. I know yours is so recent. But yes, we have the Hope of the world in a manger!

        Donna, how I understand the desire for heaven after losing a loved one. Reading Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,… and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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    Oh Nila, that is a beautiful quote and, yes, is clearly describes the deep longing of our heats!

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Oh this post speaks just what my heart has been saying over the last several months. This promised hope, “He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3,4). And oh how I needed this reminder this morning. I feel acutely aware of how far the curse is found, in my own little world. Those in need physically, spiritually, as well as my own self-seeking heart. This hope, this promise, that one Day all will be new…I just don’t know how anyone can live without it. 
 
I mentioned this before, but I do feel a heightened awareness that our time here is short–but that this is (thankfully) not Home. I have always had a deep sense of that, a Homesickness for Heaven even since I was young. But only recently has my longing for Heaven been matched by a desire to live more fully for His kingdom here, now–rather than just looking forward to “then”. 
 
 
One of my favorite hymns we sing at Church is called “All Things New.” A few of the stanzas:
“Come, Lord, and tarry not; Bring the long looked for day; O why these years of waiting here,These ages of decay? 
Come, for Thy saints still wait; Daily ascends their sigh; The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come”; Does Thou not hear the cry?
Come, for creation groans, Impatient of Thy stay, Worn out with these long years of ill, These ages of delay…
Come, and make all things new, Build up this ruined earth; Restore our faded Paradise, Creation’s second birth.
Come, and begin Thy reign Of everlasting peace; Come, take the kingdom to Thyself, Great King of Righteousness.

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    Oh Lizzy, this is what I need MORE, 

    “But only recently has my longing for Heaven been matched by a desire to live more fully for His kingdom here, now–rather than just looking forward to “then”. 
    I know one reason we are like kindred spirits is we both long for heaven, but yes, I need Him to put a longing in my heart even more to live fully for Him in the here and now, as we wait for all things to be made new!  Beautiful hymn also!  You come up with several I’ve never heard, and I love the old hymns too!

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    Lizzy,  I totally agree with you:  “This hope, this promise, that one Day all will be new…I just don’t know how anyone can live without it.”

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      Deanna–I’ve missed you! So good to see your face again :)

        Thank you, Lizzy!

        Agreed! Glad you are with us again Deanna!

        Yes, Deanna!  I was missing you and wondering about you!

        Thank you, Laura and Mary!  

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    These words, Lizzy — my prayer for all of us:

    But only recently has my longing for Heaven been matched by a desire to live more fully for His kingdom here, now–rather than just looking forward to “then”.

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      Yes, Lizzy. I agree with many here. And this is a prayer for all of us as Dee said.

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    Lizzy……
    I don’t know this hymn but the words draw me in.   

    Come, and make all things new, Build up this ruined earth; Restore our faded Paradise, Creation’s second birth.Come, and begin Thy reign Of everlasting peace; Come, take the kingdom to Thyself, Great King of Righteousness.

     
    I wonder if I can find it online.  THANKS for sharing all of the above.  

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      Wanda, this is how we sing it (updated version of the hymn “Come Lord and Tarry Not”) : https://youtu.be/Ukej-X-ssIo
      It is one of my favorites…I cannot sing it though, I always have full tears once it starts!

        Lizzy, thanks for posting the link to your song. Lovely words but the music makes me actually stop and listen and ponder.

        Thank you, Lizzy….  I am saving the link to listen when I can sit quiet.  :)  

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1.  You said Joy to the World was really about the second coming.  I think it is about the first, second, and the now-in between time.  He does rule the world with truth and grace.  We might not be able to see it, but none the less, He is ruling,  and it is with truth and grace.  He makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness.  The nations right now in their (our) rebellion and sin highlight how different and better God is.  And wonders of His love.  Don’t we today glorify Him for what He has done for us, even as we live in sinful bodies?  So I look back to the manger with warmth and joy, long for the throne, and thrill to live right now with Jesus, my intimate Savior.
 
2.  I am experiencing His presence this Advent in several ways.  My husband and I made a conscious choice to ‘downsize’ the material aspects of Christmas, and that has slowed the pace for us, giving more time for reflection and peace.  I feel Christ calling me through the days to stop, listen, feel, hear, taste of Him.  In this blog as new ideas come to us, and old ideas get reframed, I see Him and rejoice.  And last, though certainly not least, as He helps me change the way I approach food I end up being fed on Him.  This is big, because I make candy at Christmas.  This year we made fourteen kinds, but I’ve had very little of it, and am satisfied with Him.

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    Oh Mary! I am so “proud” of you for not eating much of the candy! When I was a teenager and danced every day for many hours a day, I used to make cakes and give them away! I would tell myself, “I can eat this anytime….I don’t need it right now.” It helped me to focus on the giving to others rather than satisfying myself. I am struggling trying to lose 8 pounds to be in a good place where I feel good and fit in my clothes again. I will keep you in my prayers. 
    I love the way you broke down Joy to the World! Thank you!

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    Mary B — I LOVE that perspective of Joy To the World!

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Wanda:  so sorry to hear u had such a hard time & that u couldn’t make the concert, but glad u are pressing on & that u found comfort in the Lord. Iguess what impressed me the most about what Steven Curtis Chapman had to say was : Jesus cam to brin JOY in every circumstance & no matter what we are going thro! Even with the death of his daughter & grandmother, he found joy. Wow, that is challenging! Yet I know that when I’ve been having a hard time, that is when I draw closest to the Lord, & yes His Peace & Joy can be found. I’ve always loved the carol “Joy to the World”. I’ve been playing carols in the car as I drive between my patients ( I’m a Home Health Nurse), & its wonderful to be able to sing them out & be reminded of His grace & Love for us. :)

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    Thank you, Jenny!    And I love that image of you singing between patients as you drive along.  That has to help you persevere and be ready to bring healing and comfort to those who are blessed to be in your care.  

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    Jenny — I love to hear of Christians going into nursing. How you bring His love to the hurting!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
All of the post was helpful, but I probably gained the most from Steven Curtis Chapman explaining his feelings about the carol “Joy to the World.”    We sang that in church this morning, as we lit the “Joy” candle on our Advent wreath.   The service was totally about joy and was filled with many expressions of joy.   A heart-warming incident happened in the service.   When the designated family went up to give a reading, a prayer, and light the candle on the Advent wreath, they had with them a couple of college students (grandchildren).  A woman in our congregation who is exhibiting signs of early Alzheimers and who tends to make comments in church aloud, suddenly blurted out “which one is that kid?”   The grandmother smiled and said “He is A.J.” Then when the granddaughter gave the prayer, this woman spoke out again “Who is that?”   “This one is Maura.”     Then as the family went back to their seats in the congregation, the grandmother stopped by to hug the woman, saying “I love and appreciate you so much!”     The woman responded,  “I’m glad someone does!”

2. Are you experiencing His presence this Advent? If so, share how.
 
I think that I am being given more opportunities to give of my time and money to help others.   There are a lot of people in my life who need help.   I have felt Him prompting me to do these things, and helping me to accomplish them.   

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    OH…..what a poignant story from your church service this morning.   Yours congregation sounds like a real family!  

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    Deanna — wonderful story. And the woman responded so well!

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    Deanna, I spotted you on here when I first read over the lesson on Monday and I’m also glad to see you back!

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why? The hope and anticipation of what is to come. The disappointments of this earth aren’t a cause for depression, but a sign that what we are lacking here will be more than made up for in what has yet to come.
2. Are you experiencing His presence this Advent? If so, share how. Yes. I have been more intentional in my bible reading, interactions with others and my thought life.  Making a point to keep my mind focused on Him and what He would have for me to do. I have had peace this year and it’s been a while since I’ve experienced that.

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    Dawn ~
    Thank you for sharing this.   So good when we have a measure of peace after a season of unrest.   Only His Presence can make a way through the darkness in this world.  Grateful for your post here this morning.

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
 
It is chapters like this one, in the bible, that make me cry and give up. I am really not following any of this as I read. I feel like I need a degree in theology to understand! On first pass, I suppose I get that those who are sinful will succumb to the wrath of God. But isn’t that what was already said in previous chapters? Why the repetition? I think I missed something…I am only reading the ESV, so perhaps I will go and read in the Message and report back. The other thing I am taking away from chapter 10 is that I need a map to locate all the places mentioned, and a degree in genealogy to follow who is involved here. I did get that the king of Assyria is the focus of the Lord, and that the small number of people left (country) after all of the terror would be Israel.

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So when I go back to chapter 9, and read in the Message, I figure out that Israel has been sinful and God is punishing them. At the beginning of chapter 10 Isaiah (?) is admonishing the leaders for taking the people down that path. Then comes the part about the Assyrian king; how he thinks he is “all that,” and how he has taken everything he wants and will eventually be ruler over all. Reminds me of ISIS. God has other plans for him though. He will ruin the Assyrian king and his minions. In the end, whats left of Israel (the people), will only fear the Holy One and will live under His protection. Whew! This was tough stuff for a Monday morning!

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    Yes, Laura — but you got it! Hurray!

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Oh the richness of all these comments…Deanna, the patience and love given in your story…oh my….  Nila, I love the narnia devo quote about stillness and waiting.  Jenny, the joy of singing carols in between patients and the heart work being done to be shared.  Wanda, I love the light in the darkness…brings to mind John 1:5.  I could go on and on…thank you ladies for the gift you all provide on this blog.

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    Sorry…it was Wanda who shared the Narnia devotional quote and Nila who shared the text from Mere Christianity…both are so good.

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What stands out to you and why?
a. Lucy stepping through the wardrobe. When I was growing up, we use to play hide and seek and my parents closet was one of our favorite places to hide. But oh how dark it was in there! My cousin and I or my brother would hide to the farthest recesses covered by the extra clothes. As we sit there there quietly, I had this fear of the dark, add to that the heat and stuffiness and yet not wanting to be found or I will be “IT”. Yet, once out and found, it was almost a relief since light is so glorious. How like Narnia (I did not grow up reading the chronicles but have heard about it many times here in the US) in a small way to me! Christ has found me and in the midst of the dark world I am in, He is my light.
b. Steven Curtis Chapman’s experience of Advent-Wow! He does make all things beautiful in His time. The timing when he received the text about his grandma, the words of the song, Joy to the World, the hope in Jesus for after this life. We have a few elderly in our church and it pains me to think about what I would experience in their passing, yet what joy there is in the knowledge that they will pass through the “wardrobe” of this life into the “Narnia” called Heaven. 

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1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
 
I find myself pondering and pondering about how Joy To The World is about the second Advent. I had never thought about that before – thank you, Dee, for that insight. With the world so full of “sins and sorrow”, it is so wonderful that we KNOW that Jesus can paid the price to remove the curse and he will come again to remove forever the curse so the lion and the lamb will lie down together and a little child can play with the snake. “Joy To the World”

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Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, He will make all things beautiful. (It actually says He has made all things beautiful, which, like Isaiah’s “unto you a child is born” has a verb tense so sure it as if it is already accomplished. God seems outside of time, as indicated by Revelation 3:18 that talks of the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.) 
 
I just LOVE knowing this Dee!   I’ve always heard these verses but not thought about the tense.  That is a rich imagery.  C.S. Lewis describes God being ‘out of time’ in a way that I finally understood (as much as my little brain can anyway)  in  Chapter Three (Time and Beyond Time) of Mere Christianity.  It stuck with me.  I’m glad now, that I can add these scripture passages to that understanding.  

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    Thanks for reminding me, Wanda, about that chapter in Mere Christianity!

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.       Whew!  There’s so many thoughts here.  The first two verses always make me take notice and I think about our own government and how many times laws are unjust and oppressive against the poor.  How God prioritizes the marginalized in every society.  I’ve noted that Isaiah uses the phrase ‘thorns and briers’ more than once so far and I’m going to note that.  Just curious because I have a movie about a compassionate ministry that is called ‘no more thorns and briers’…..    Anyway,  I have too many other rambling thoughts to write down here except this:    The final verses of 10 close with the picture of God wielding  a mighty ax and ‘lopping off the boughs’  of the lofty trees……’the tall being brought low,  Lebanon falling before the Mighty One’    I hadn’t noticed this ‘forest/tree’ analogy before and OH!  how it leads so perfectly into the beautiful verses of Chapter 11.   This study is so rich.  

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
 
Assyria did not realize that it was being used by God to judge His people.   Even when people or nations of people reject God, living in wicked ways and failing to do God’s work, God is still in control and can even use a nation that doesn’t believe in Him to do his work. Later God would turn against the Assyrians and give them what they deserved, but first He would use Assyria to help him accomplish what he wanted among His people.   We know from history that eventually the Babylonians completely conquered Assyria, and it never rose to be power again.   Isaiah 10:12 says, “When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say ‘I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.'”    Later in the chapter (verse 20), the remnant who again trusted in the Lord will come back (to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity).  The remnant would be small in comparison to the number of people who had lived there.  

My commentary tells me that the listing of all of those cities (vss. 28-32) is in the order of the route the Assyrians would take in their invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. 
 

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4. Comments on the above?
 
Once again we encounter prophecy at two levels:  (from the Carson blog) “At one level, the “remnant” thus regathered refers to the survivors of historic Israel (Isa. 11:12), but in the prophetic foreshortening they are also the generation of the elect and faithful people of God in the last days”.     I am always awed at the multiple layers of God’s word.   I sometimes think I understand a particular passage well, but then later I learn that I have only seen one layer, and have missed multiple layers.   

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
Isaiah 10 speaks to the Lord’s sovereignty…God’s will will be done.  The Assyrians unbeknownst to them are being used by the Lord in disciplining Israel.  They are an arrogant people who deceive themselves looking to self for successes, glory, might, and honor, giving themselves credit for all.  After the Assyrians accomplish the task directed for them by the Lord, they will be disciplined for their pride and arrogance…God’s will will be done. 

Yesterday, today, and in the future, God’s will, His plan, will come to be regardless of the evil, injustice, poor choices/decisions, etc. of this world.  Regardless of how it appears, the Lord is in charge…He is sovereign. 

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5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.
The whole of creation is waiting.  When sin entered the world everything was impacted…all of creation would suffer decay and death.  The new world Jesus will bring is one of Eden, prior to sin infection; the new world will be harmony, peace, and love, no more sickness, death, decay. 
Ahhh…

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Donna: my heart goes out to you grieving over your husband’s death. May the Lord fill every empty, aching place with Himself & give u great comfort & joy! Deanna: loved your church story…my mom has beginnings of Denemtia so I could relate…funny but sad at the same time!  Laura: LOVE your honesty…sometimes I struggle with focusing when things get too wordy or deep; you realy nailed it today tho…well done!  :)   What hit me from Isaiah 10 was rthat just when the Assyrians had their goal in sight & thought they’d won……”behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will lop off the beautiful boughs with terrorizing force ; the high in stature will be hewn down & the lofty will be brought low”  !!!   Suddenly is one of my favorite words in the Bible cause God moves “suddenly” many times & I can’t wait to see Him do that in my husband & kids!(open their eyes to Himself & His love for them).  We wait for Him in hope & alert expectancy! His righteousness & justice will win , & come suddenly when the enemy least expects it! Hallelujah, can’t wait for the whole earth to be filled with the glory of the Lord, & the fear of the Lord & the acknowledging that He is God!

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    thank you Jenny I covet everyone’s prayers they mean so much

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Donna–I think you mentioned that you are reading Dee’s God of All Comfort? If you haven’t it is a “must read”. I am praying for Him to be nearer than ever to you. I am so so sorry for your deep pain. Glad you have joined us so we can lift you up. 

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    Yes I finished God of all comfort and plan on reading it again and again it was very helpful, I started reading it before my husband had died while he was ill and we  would at times read sections together, well I would read them aloud. I need to read it and underline sections. I then read CS Lewis A grief observed and am now reading A Grace Disguised by Jerry Sittser and it is also very helpful. I do hope God can use me in some way to help be a support to others who are grieving. I was a hospice nurse for 5 years and thought I understood grief, lost both my parents and other family members. I always thought I was a support and comfort. Now that I have gone through losing my husband I realize how small my understanding of grief and loss was. I need to reach out more to those going through this and be present with them. It is horrendous and most people do not understand at all. I do not know how people without the living God in their lives continue to breath. I thank the Lord for walking with me and being here when I cry out. I appreciate all of your understanding ladies. Thank you

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      Donna, just reading your words here–so honest, transparent, so humble–I feel myself drawn to you even more because He really does shine through your brokenness. I can see how you will be a tremendous support to those suffering such loss. I think of how suffering either makes us more bitter or more beautiful, depending on where we run in our pain–you have run to Him and His beauty is so evident in you.

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      Donna — those were the two grief books that ministered to me too!

       

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      Donna..…I was in a womens’ study last year and we read both A Grace Disguised and A Grace Revealed.  It wasn’t particularly meant as a grief support group, but oh….how those books met us all.  The ladies in our group ranged from upper twenties to mid eighties and talking about similar grief experiences was such a bonding time.   I was so very impressed with the depth of theology as well as the insights about grieving, in Sittser’s writing.   
       
      We love having you here, Donna.  I hope this will be a continued place of support and blessing for you.  

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
I can see a few things here this morning:
1.   V. 1-4 God’s judgment on His own people brought by the Assyrians-His rod of anger
2.   V. 5-19 God’s judgment on Assyria because of its pride and haughtiness
3.   V.  20-25    God’s promise to the remnant . The song “Comfort Ye my people” is a fitting song here to the remnant in preparation for Isaiah 11
Chapter 11 is so poignant one can cry at the reading of the promise of HOPE.  “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse”.
 
In the midst of the suffering and the pain of this world, can I be an “Isaiah” bringing hope to God’s remnant and pointing them to the “Banner” that is Christ Jesus? What can I do to comfort others?

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What stands out in Isaiah 10?
Without Me they shall bow down among the prisoners.
And they shall fall among the slain
For all this His anger is not turned away
But His hand is stretched out still I saiah 10:4
 
BUT HIS HAND IS STRETCHED OUT STILL.

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4. Comments on the above?        Carson’s blog post is very helpful.   I am going to print and keep it with my Isaiah notes.   I also like Sproul’s advice regarding the timing of the peaceable kingdom.   I’m most often content to ‘not know’ all the ‘whens’ but only the ‘will be’s’.   There’s so much mystery and mind boggling elements to all that God is,  is doing and will do that to figure out the specifics, many times,  is just too much.     
 
Has anyone used a ‘Jesse branch’  in their observance of Advent?   I haven’t but am getting very interested in doing this.  Wish I had my grandchildren close by.   Maybe I should arrange a Skype version of doing this with them next year.   Hmmmm.   I’d love to hear if and how others have done this.  

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3.  Isaiah 10 was written for the Israel of Isaiah’s time, but I see us today in it also.  In vs 12, when God says He will punish for willful pride, I tremble for my nation.  In vs 15, He talks of people taking credit for what God has done through them, and that He will judge that.  It is so easy to do that.  In vs 23, it says that destruction will come.  We know that it did.  But God told them ahead of time to give them a chance to repent and kneel before Him.  I believe He is giving us today that same opportunity, to repent of both our individual sins and those of our nation, like abortion.  I fear we will fail, just as Israel did.
 
6a.  I may be way off, but I see seven Spirits mentioned, resting on the Branch, the One who will rule.  Is this the seven fold Spirit of God spelled out for us?
b.  As a result of His righteous rule, the literal dog eat dog world we live in will become one of peace.  I so look forward to having no conflict within me, but being totally His in peace and knowledge 
c.  Thanks to the sermon, I saw that the banner is Jesus, and that here the call was for mostly Gentiles through centuries of Christianity .
 
7.  I didn’t learn a lot new, but it sure did stir up a lot more longing for that new world!

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2. Are you experiencing His presence this Advent? If so, share how.
 
I wish I could say that I am continually experiencing His presence, but I’m not (there yet). But, over the weekend, I got up early and re-read Isaiah 1-9. As I was reading over Isaiah 9:6, which says, “And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace…” I was praying over these names and kind of “explaining” them back to Jesus, and a quiet awe-filled question crept into my mind, “Lord, why did you come? I mean, WHY?” Here is the Eternal Father, The Mighty God, and He came here. The same God who created the things in nature that I see out my window, and the infinite realms of space, came here. And it’s not like those sci-fi movies where you see a person and some of the outer flesh tears off and you see they’re really a robot on the inside and not really a human; no, Jesus, though really, fully God, was really, fully a human being with flesh and blood vessels and aches and pains. What kind of God would do something like this? And I think I got a tiny glimpse into the depth of God’s love for us, for me, in answer to the “why”.
 
Now this morning I was preparing for two of my friends to come for breakfast. We three take turns every Christmas, having a get-together, and this morning it was my turn. As I was desperately trying to get my kitchen in order, the counters cleaned and clutter put away, I felt stressed-out and inside my head the voices were saying, “Susan, you’re such a mess. You are always behind the eight ball; you are never caught up, your house is never cleaned from top-to-bottom…” I started to feel anxiety, which I usually don’t experience. I tried to remember the words from Isaiah 9:6, saying “Lord, Jesus, I could really use a Wonderful Counselor right now, and the Prince of Peace.” During the visit with my friends, my friend, Judy, who I would describe as extremely energetic (she’s 68!), was telling us how in one day, she baked 6 or 7 different kinds of cookies and cleaned her kitchen until it was spotless afterwards. She worked from 9am-9pm. I haven’t even started my cookie baking! But, instead of beating myself up, I am trying to rest in the fact that He made me the way I am. I can have a lot of energy, but not that much! I am not Judy, I am me, and that is okay!

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    Susan, it sounds like you had a nice visit with your 2 friends, in spite of the anxiety and “mess.” I’m sure the important things were done (a clean-ish bathroom and something to eat and drink). I have learned it’s more about enjoying each other than having the house perfect. I’m sorry you weren’t feeling too confident about things. The time spent with parents is precious also, although sometimes difficult. Enjoy the time you have left with them. I also love that Isaiah is speaking to you! You are a blessing, sweet sister!

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      Yes, Laura, a “clean-ish bathroom”! I’ve used the Lysol wipes to scrub down a bathroom quickly before company! But you are right – the most important thing is to enjoy the relationships. Why oh why do we get so stressed out about a less than perfect home? When I was growing up, my mom always kept a spotless home. Always. But, she didn’t work outside the home, and my two sisters and I are 6 1/2 years apart, so maybe that made it a little easier for her! But when I had young kids at home, she would come over and look around and say, “Now, what needs to be done around here?” She always wanted to do my laundry or scrub something, and all I wanted her to do was visit with us! But, I think of The Five Love Languages, and one of the languages is acts of service, in that some people show love by doing for others!

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    God bless you, Susan…we see only dimly now; so thankful for your glimpse.

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    SUSAN:    I’m just catching up on some of these comments.   I identify precisely with your comments about your kitchen and always feeling behind.  And I don’t even have an outside job!   (other than volunteering and a few hours a week of paid work)  BUT I struggle with the ‘behind the eight ball’ syndrome constantly.   I laughed at the 68 year old friend and her comments.   I have that very same person in my life!  My friend is 69!   Her facebook posts boast major accomplishments DAILY…..I know she ‘accomplishes’ more in two weeks than I do ALL year,  if we only count tangible things.   But we all have chinks in our armor.  And we all have strengths that are sometimes unseen by others.  The relationships you nurture,  the love you have for your family and your patients and those in your sphere of influence……those are lasting and true and nothing can take away the impact that loving others in God’s love can bring.    Bless you, Susan!  
    It is now the 17th and I hope to do my FIRST Christmas baking day today.  :)   Let’s enjoy being ‘behind’  together!    

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Oh, and I forgot to add to the above that before my friends and I ate, we always pray (they are both Catholic Christians), and I said how I’ve been reading in Isaiah and how meaningful Isaiah 9:6 has been to me, and I was able to recite from memory the beautiful names of Jesus given there. I gave thanks for Him coming to rescue us and for the gift of friends.
I believe that I was a little emotionally drained this morning, too, which probably contributed to my anxious thoughts. I had my parents over for dinner last night, and had gone to pick them up because I’ve got a lot of snow on my driveway and it’s a hill. My mom had misplaced her purse and they couldn’t find it, and she was very upset and angry about it. (Due to the memory loss, this happens a lot) She kept asking where her purse was all the way to my house, and my dad seemed kind of quiet while they were here. We did have a nice dinner, but I felt sort of drained after I took them back home. I did find her purse, though….she had put it on a hanger in her closet and it was sandwiched between two blouses!

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    Susan, I enjoy hearing about your time with your parents for dinner and your friends for breakfast. You are so honest about feeling stressed and I can identify with your anxious thoughts if I am being honest. Even though you feel you are not doing enough, you are doing what is most important – spending time with God, with family and friends. God sees you as so beloved that he came down to rescue you. You are more than enough in the eyes of the only One who counts. Rest in Him!

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    Susan, I appreciate your sharing about your stressors and how you have used the Word of God to comfort and lead you. I, too this week has had “the rain that pours”. I have been praying to God for His strength and courage to get up and go and minister to my students and colleagues. Some of them really make it hard and I had to remind myself they are not the “enemy”. The latter is trying to foster discouragement and self-doubt and I will not give in to his tactics! The Word of God and the great attributes of Jesus in Isaiah really has been a lifeline-Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace (oh, how I need it), Mighty God (He is able to do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine!) Everlasting Father (when the rough becomes rougher, I need the everlasting arms around me). I thank God for this blog-even as I write this, I feel the tension easing in my body.

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    Susan — I too love hearing of your tender care for your parents. And I always think you are SO hard on yourself, not seeing yourself as God does! Does anyone other than OCD people have homes that are clean from top to bottom?

    And I’m overjoyed about your sweet friendships!

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5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.
 
The creation is waiting because it is at present groaning under the weight of the sins in the world. There is hope in the Lord who comes to save.
 
6. Read Isaiah 11 in the follow sections and share what you learn about: 
A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5).
 
He will come and have wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and knowledge. I’m not sure why it says He will have fear of the Lord though. He is the Lord…why would he fear himself? He will judge those on earth including the poor and sinful. He is righteous and faithful.
 
 
 

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6. Read Isaiah 11 in the follow sections and share what you learn about:
A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5).
This is a spring. Immediately I felt secure and comforted for He is in control. What popped out was this, v. 3 “And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” then v. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins. How Jesus will judge not, for example, by how we judge in hearing arguments on both sides first..for HE KNOWS HEARTS. He will judge by His righteousness. His Wisdom, His knowlege, His council, His might. He will judge the poor, decide with equity the meek and destroy the wicked. HE is righteous and FAITHFUL. This puts me in awe of Him. I am comforted that this WILL happen so when I see injustice all around..for example, the genocide going on in Syria right now-oh-I know the wicked will be destroyed.

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6.A. The One who will ultimately rule. (Isa 11:1-5)
The righteous King and Lord, our Messiah, Jesus.
 
B. The peaceable Kingdom (Isa 11:6-9).
A harmony unknown in this sinful world will reign; those who are enemies of sorts will be at peace; genuine peace for all.

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“At one level, the “remnant” thus regathered refers to the survivors of historic Israel (Isa. 11:12), but in the prophetic foreshortening they are also the generation of the elect and faithful people of God in the last days.” D. Carson
I think of the song “He included me” by Johnson Oatman, Jr.-what a glorious thought. Not only is He coming for and gathering survivors of historic Israel but also the generation of elect (me, a Gentile!)
1.    I am so happy in Christ today, That I go singing along my way; Yes, I’m so happy to know and say, “Jesus included me, too.”
o    Refrain: Jesus included me, yes, He included me, When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me; Jesus included me, yes, He included me, When the Lord said, “Whosoever,” He included me.
2.    Gladly I read, “Whosoever may Come to the fountain of life today”; But when I read it I always say, “Jesus included me, too.”
3.    Ever God’s Spirit is saying, “Come!” Hear the Bride saying, “No longer roam”; But I am sure while they’re calling home, Jesus included me, too.
4.    “Freely come drink,” words the soul to thrill! Oh, with what joy they my heart do fill! For when He said, “Whosoever will,” Jesus included me, too.
 
 

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    Bing — I love this happy thankful post.

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My report on our Christmas tea yesterday — we had many seekers come, be blessed, and many sign up for our seeker study. So thankful!

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    YEAH!!!  Praising the Lord for this!

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      Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus-how you woo and draw near-oh!

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    I am so glad that many seekers came and signed up for your seeker study! Do you use helps from others (books, etc.) for your seekers’ studies that would be suitable for men? My husband is doing a men’s seeker study starting in January. He is using Alpha but we are wondering what else might be available. He’s trying not to intimidate and be casual, yet have a spiritual component. He is having a men’s group in our home at the same time that I am leading a women’s Bible Study using Jen Wilkin’s “Sermon on the Mount” at the church. (The buildings are next door to each other.) We are praying that men seekers will come (maybe because their wives are coming out anyway).

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      We use my Fisherman Guide: Examining the Claims of Christ. Fisherman guides are for both men and women.

      I also think Rebecca Pippert’s guides are good.

      I don’t know of a Seeker guide written by a man that is good — but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one! Keller’s Reason for God is good if it is a pretty intellectual group.

      Blessings, Diane.

        Thanks, Dee. I’ll check these out.

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      Thanks all for your encouragement. We hope to begin January 16th, Monday evenings, if the books arrive on time. I do covet your prayers, especially that men will be brave enough to come.

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    So thankful for this great report! Praise!

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    This is good news! Do you do the seeker study in your church or have it in your home?

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      We are having the seeker study in our home (with snacks and drinks), hoping that the guys won’t be so intimidated by our house as the church building. (I am not an immaculate housekeeper and an introvert who usually prefers my home as a haven not an open house, so the idea of having people in my house intimidates me. Pray for me to sacrifice my privacy and pride as I do this for the men as well as try to focus on teaching the women. May all be drawn to Christ, not us.)

        I think it is very brave and wonderful, Diane!  Praying about it right now!

        Just seeing this Diane. I am praying for your study. When will it be?

        Diane.…..I could have written your statement in parentheses…..for that is my story too.  I truly want to be hospitable and we are sometimes, but I am easily intimidated by my small and cluttered home…not immaculate at all here!  But……I think the men you’ve invited will feel so welcomed.   I actually have an easier time having my husband’s men friends and acquaintances over, because I feel more intimidated by women.     Bless you for opening your home.   You mentioned yourself teaching women…..is that a separate time/place?     

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
The first 2 verses got me. God is the Righteous Defender. One of my favorite attributes is God as Judge–because he is faultless in it. He is perfect in his justice.  I have experienced passive leadership–and also a fear of man that kept hard truth from being spoken. But God is perfect in His judgement–He can never be unfair or wrongly accusing. He looks out for the weakest, the neediest, the ones who are easily forgotten or ignored or worse, wrongly treated in our culture. He is a father to the fatherless (psalm 68:5)
4. Comments on the above?
This was really good. I liked this: “So perfect and absolute will be Messiah’s rule that death and destruction will die”
 
5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.
All of creation is eagerly waiting, groaning, for redemption, restoration, and our adoption as sons. Our depravity is so great that it affects all that God has made. We live in a world of destruction and we witness life turning to death—in all of creation. But there is a promised Day, when we will be set free! And God’s reigning power is so overwhelming that ALL of creation will be restored and death will never be known again. I love v. 21: “creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” We will no longer be trying to steal God’s glory for ourselves, we will finally be what we were created to be–we will reflect Him, glorify Him, love like Him…we will be LIKE HIM! 
 

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6. Read Isaiah 11 in the following sections and share what you learn about:
A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5).
He will come from the house of David, a stump of Jesse. He will be filled with the Spirit of the Lord. He will rule with wisdom, understanding, and righteousness. He will look after the needy, and bring justice to the poor. 
 
B. The peaceable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9)
The way we have known things to always be will be completely transformed. I was thinking how strange this sounds to us, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,…the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,…the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together…”. It’s so hard to fathom, it seems impossible. And yet, that is what the New Kingdom will be like—it will be so incredibly beyond our imagination. If we knew all the details, it would seem impossible. There is such awe and wonder in that to me—how He will surprise us with joys we can’t even picture in our minds because we are so used to the fallen world. I don’t know if I’m making sense, my thoughts are just stirring with this—anyway, it just sort of fills me with excitement and hope!
 

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    Interesting thought about “gettng used to a fallen world.”

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B. The peacable Kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9)
 
All beings will live in harmony when He arrives to bring us home. My grandson has a rattle that is a lion and one that is a lamb. I love to sing to him (rattling both) “How Great is Our God:”

How Great Is Our God
Chris Tomlin

Lyrics

The splendor of the King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice
He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God
How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see

How great, how great is our God 
 
 

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    Oh!  Laura..…. I love the lion and lamb rattles and singing with them to your grandson!     I really like the song you posted too….so much good theology in it.  It also reminded me of ‘The Lion and the Lamb’ by Crystal Lewis.   I just love it.  She has such a booming, gutsy voice…it makes the lyrics come alive…..but they’re good all on their own also.  

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    I love that song too, Laura.  We sing it at church sometimes (I’d like to more!) and it’s so sweet that you sing it to your grandson while using his rattles! :D

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I’ve been reading Keller’s Hidden Christmas — he takes the passage from Isaiah 9 of His name shall be called…and intertwines it with the famous Lewis quote about how you can’t just “like” Jesus — you don’t just like someone called Mighty God — you must fall on your knees…

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    Good to hear this book summary and recommendation, Dee!    (not that I would ever hesitate to buy a Keller title.  ;)  )  

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      I find I do like his sermons better than books, for he is such a good speaker — and this book is his advent sermons put to print. But still — good!

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3. Read Isaiah 10 and share anything that stands out to you.
 
This is pretty bleak. Verse 4, “Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain.”  The arrogance and pride of the conqueror, as in the king of Assyria saying that he defeated the peoples by his own power and wisdom (verses 13-14).

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4. Comments on the above?
 
After reading this, I see the link now between the ending of chapter 10 which describes (in my NASB translation) “boughs being lopped off” and “those who are tall in stature being cut down”, as in a forest being cut down, and then the beginning of chapter 11 which talks about a “shoot springing up from the stem, or stump, of Jesse”. So I can imagine in my mind a once stately forest having been reduced to stumps, and then a shoot, new growth, coming forth.
 
This really reminded me of the passage in Job 14:7-9, where Job wonders if there is any hope for a man when he dies. He says, “For there is hope for a tree, when it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and its shoots will not fail. Though its roots grow old in the ground, and its stump dies in the dry soil, at the scent of water it will flourish and put forth sprigs like a plant.” So this whole idea of the hope of new life when things appear dead seems to be a thread through the Scripture.

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    Beautiful connection, Susan.

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Reflections on Isaiah 11
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,     or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy,     with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
This passage really spoke to me this morning.
As I thought of the corruption in the Philippines when I was growing up (and even now),
As I think of how to manage my classroom and respond to my challenging students,
As I reflect on the personal injustices I have perceived from others,
Jesus is the RIGHTEOUS JUDGE. He sees and hears from beyond what is obvious. He does not make a mistake or will ever do. I can have the confidence that in Him justice will prevail and I can trust Him to bring that about, in the here and now and in the future.
Oh, how I long for Heaven! Yet, He makes all things beautiful in His time! Heaven will be here in perfect time. Meanwhile, I say with Paul, “…it is necessary that I remain in the body..”
 
 
 

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Finally I’m back again! I had some neighbor ladies over last night, & one of them ended up sharing how her dtr had a still born baby in July, & now a miscarriage yesterday! She was crying & apologizing. We all hugged her & I plucked up my courage & asked if we could hold hands & pray for her. I prayed a brief prayer & hugged her again & ampraying for more opportunities to just love her. It was such a blessing to open my home again & just see what God wants to do…always developing relationships  :)   I would love sometime to do a “seeker study” like you Dee. It would have to be God’s timing & way…not sure how to go about it…just give the invitation I guess. Never sure when my husband will be home so have always held off on committing, but maybe I need to step out in faith! Lord leads me & give me boldness.     Loved the sermon on heaven & need to finish it. But I loved his perspective “Heaven will be a world of peace, inhabited by a people at rest, & ruled by a Righteous King”!  No sin, no hostility, alll will know & fear the Lord! Also loved “the gospel is a highway to peace & rest with God & eachother.” “Evangelism is an opportunity to INVITE people into the rest that I know”. I love to invite & to comfort & nurture & spend one on one time with people, so now I pray for more courage & clarity to invite others to Jesus.  Always a bit daunting to me,  but the Lord is changing me slowly but surely :)  

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    Jenny, this post about your grieving neighbor touched my heart. What a marvelous opportunity to show the love of Christ, though the circumstance was so sad. I am praying that you will find a way to have a “seeker” study. Love the quote that “Evangelism is an opportunity to INVITE people into the Rest that I know.”

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    You have such a hospitable spirit, Jenny! And glad you loved the sermon.

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    Jenny, your post moved me so much, how wonderful that you prayed with her, I know that means so much to her. I love your prayer for boldness. I will be praying for you too. You keep inviting people to that lovely rest that you know. What a great way to put it.

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    Jenny, how wonderful for you to open your home and your heart to your neighbor ladies! I am convinced that people today are longing to be known, to have MEANINGFUL connections with others (FB, text messaging friends is just not the same as being WITH someone)….how do you open up your heart and reveal what is inside via a text message? With all the social media today, people are more disconnected and lonelier than ever before. That woman obviously needed to share this pain with someone.

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5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.
All of creation is waiting, because Christ will bring complete restoration.   Creation itself groans.   This makes me think of all the changes in climate we are seeing in our world now as well as all the ways that Creation itself has been marred, stripped and decaying over the centuries of people living on earth.   And though we only see ‘the underside of the tapestry’  we do know that God will set all things right again.  We will one day see and live in an earth that is truly perfect in every way.   I see these verses as a loving bond between the earth and its Creator.  God wants His people back.  God wants His Creation back.  All to the glory of the Creator but while we wait, the Creation feels frustration as do we, His children.  Yet, we have HOPE because HOPE is based on not what is seen, but what is believed.  

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6. Read Isaiah 11 in the follow sections and share what you learn about:
A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5).   From the human line of Jesse….yet from the Holy Spirit of God.  Truly the only One who has had or will ever have this ‘ancestry’ and yet no ‘ancestry’ at all, because He is eternal!  But He is One with the Spirit which makes Him wise, understanding, a counselor, all powerful, all knowing, and all reverent.   In fact, His delight is in the fear of the Lord; the worship and glory of His name.    
 
“Is he safe?”  the children ask.   “NO” says Mr. Beaver.   BUT HE IS GOOD.
 
He is ultimately GOOD.  And He is the righteous and completely all knowing and all honest/true judge.  He doesn’t judge by what he sees or hears but with RIGHTEOUSNESS.  His decisions are completely JUST.   He will care for the poor and needy with these credentials.   And  He will destroy the wicked.   Righteousness and faithfulness are a part of his very nature.    
 
Reading this description of Him gives me a deep longing as we often see just the opposite in our society today.   How we long for JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS.   Groaning.  Longing.  As the Creation groans.  
 

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I loved the sermon, especially how he tied C.S. Lewis’ Lucy entering the other world through the wardrobe with Isaiah 11. Then he asks what “other world” do we want? and how do we think we can get there? He doesn’t answer the question until the end of the sermon. Very interesting! Great use of illustration from my favorite series! :)

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    So glad you liked him — I did too –very much!

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The sermon really is SO good! Some of the points I especially liked: 
  
 
On Heaven–We all have the ability to imagine, long for, and desire to get to, a better world, and this vision of a better world, for the Christian, is Heaven. In Heaven, so complete is the absence of evil–that the wild and tame animals can lie down together, with a child watching over them. I love how this image stresses the absolute absence of sin, evil, corruption. The very nature of things has been changed; carnivore become herbivore. Isaiah describes an unimaginable world in which the curse has been removed. Death and harm and destruction are no more, because the whole world is a place filled with the knowledge and fear for the Lord.
  
 
On our redemption–We are all at war, we have earned our exile. But when we acknowledge our rebellion, turn from our sin, we are forgiven, and brought back from exile to true rest, and in relationship with God. 
 
  
On evangelism—We have the opportunity to invite others into the rest we already know. Life outside of God is a confusing, tireless, trek to nowhere—but the Gospel is a highway leading to peace, rest.  We have the opportunity as the Church to give a glimpse of what Heaven will be, by dwelling together in unity.
 
 
On our call-What can we do to promote unity? This was really good. He said if we think about where envy, jealousy, strife, make there appearance, it is usually where there are differences between one another. He talked about making a bridge across the areas of differences within the Church. I also think this can apply to building unity outside the Church. I live in an area where unfortunately racial tension is prevalent, and few things weigh so heavy on my heart. I do make an effort when I can to go out of my way in the grocery store, etc…to be friendly, helpful—efforts to bridge the gap in the smallest of ways. 
 
 
On Jesus as Banner–v. 10–the root will stand as a banner for the peoples-. A banner was raised on a battlefield, to draw attention, to show where to go for help. Jesus is the root of Jesse, raised up as a banner, so we can know where to go to find help. God lifted Him up, on the Cross. He offered Himself, the Righteous One, as a sacrificial substitute for us, the un-righteous, so that if we would look to Him, we find forgiveness, we find rest. 
 
 
Jesus is this world’s wardrobe, the way through to a Better World. Heaven is a world of peace, inhabited by a people at rest, ruled by a righteous King, uniquely endowed by the Spirit of God. 

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    Lizzy — beautiful notes and summary for all of us. Didn’t he unpack it so well? Thank you for summarizing.

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    Liszt thank you for the recap! I had to listen in pieces and this helped me remember!

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5. Read Romans 8:18-24 and describe who is waiting for the new world Christ will bring and why.
 
The creation is waiting….the NASB says the creation has “anxious longing” and that it “was subjected to futility” and “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth”. It waits for the day it will be set free from its slavery. Just like our bodies deteriorate, wear out, get sick and diseased and don’t function the way they were intended to, so too creation isn’t functioning as it was originally intended. Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, tsunamis….and some disasters caused by man, like oil spills that kill wildlife and fish. Paul also says that we ourselves “groan within ourselves”, waiting for the redemption of our bodies.
 
6. Read Isaiah 11 in the follow sections and share what you learn about:
 
A. The One who will ultimately rule (Isaiah 11:1-5)
 
He will come from the line of David (Jesse was David’s father). David was promised that someone from his line would sit on the throne forever. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon this One, and He will be wise and understanding, fearing God and judging fairly and rightly. He will slay the wicked.
 
B. The peaceable kingdom (Isaiah 11:6-9)
 
The animals will live together in peace, not killing each other for food. “The lion will eat straw like the ox”. It describes how a child will be able to touch a cobra without fear of harm. The reason is that “all the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord” and God says that “none will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain.”
 
C. The highway of the Lord (Isaiah 11:10-16) You may want to listen to the sermon first for this one.
 
I haven’t listened to the sermon yet! Not sure of all the history in this passage, but it sounds like God’s people have been scattered….perhaps some fled or were taken as captives to other lands. But God will gather the remnant of His people from the four corners of the earth. Ephraim (and Manasseh) were the names of Joseph’s sons. I believe that Ephraim, though not the oldest, was blessed above his brother by Jacob….perhaps that set the stage for their descendants to not get along? It says, “then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart”. Israel was also divided into the northern and southern kingdoms….this passage makes it sound as if they come together as one against their enemies. In verse 16, it talks about a “highway from Assyria” for the remnant, just as there was for Israel when they came up out of Egypt. God made a “highway” for His people to cross the Red Sea on dry land to deliver them; it this highway also a way to deliver the remnant left and to return them to the promised land? Maybe when God makes a highway, it means He makes a way for His people, and He fulfills the promises made to them.

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7. Did you learn anything about the new world that awaits you?
 
It is going to be a place where peace rules! No more jealousy, comparing ourselves to each other, being afraid of anything, and no more sin. There was a time when I truly got depressed thinking about heaven because I thought, “I can’t stand the thought of being me for all of eternity” as in my weaknesses, my sin problems….how wearisome! But like Paul says, I groan within myself and wait for the day when my sin nature will really fall away and be gone! I can’t even imagine what it will be like to never even have a bad thought again – a critical thought, a judgmental thought, a jealous thought, or to not feel mad or resentful about something. How will He accomplish this?
I also hope it is true that there will be animals that we can actually touch and not be afraid of them, like a lion.

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    Me too, Susan. And after listening to the sermon I wonder if we all will be vegetarians!

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My take- away for this week has been loving the focus on Jesus as the shoot from the stump of Jesse. How He is the only truly righteous ruler. He rules in perfect righteous now, although we cannot physically see Him. One day He will rule on person…oh what a day that will be!!!!! Currently my husband and I are daily reading. Ann Voskamp’s “Unwrapping the greatest gift.” We are also daily adding an ornament on our Jesse tree. This has been a simple, yet meaningful way to keep the focus on God’s plan and reason for Christmas as woven through the whole Bible. The first ornament is a picture of a shoot coming from a stump. I am so very grateful that God loves me enough to not leave me adrift on a sea of sin, but has provided all I need for salvation and to draw close to Him. What an awesome God we serve!!!

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    Nice tradition, Sue!

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    Sue.……I liked reading of your Jesse tree tradition.   I’ve never done that…..(did a similar prophecy diorama when my kids were little)  but want to get it in place for next year.  

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Dee, thank you so much for sharing Michael Lawrence’s sermon on Isaiah 11. You are right-it is awesome! I LOVE it! What a place Heaven will be and I can hardly wait!  A world of peace, inhabited by a people at rest and MOST of all- ruled by a righteous King! Amen and Amen! Lizzy, thanks for the summary. I took a lot of notes but will print what you shared here.
You all be safe in this weather! We have a Children’s Christmas skit planned for tomorrow. Travel looks iffy and the kids are going to be extra disappointed if we cancel. But safety first. Pray for us for God to lead. Perhaps He will send His breath of warm air to thaw the ice and make travel feasible for those involved. Aahh….the day when the constraints of this temporary world will be no more! No more danger…no more curse of this broken world! Come soon, Jesus!

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    I hope your children are able to do their skit tomorrow….but if it has to be rescheduled……I’ve seen some great Christmas performances in January in the past!  :)  

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      Thanks, Wanda for the encouragement and the idea about presenting it in January!

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