Good News - Week 2

Jesus Keeps Promises

Week of December 5, 2021

Openers and Ice Breakers:
In many homes and churches, you may notice the addition of an Advent wreath during this season. The Advent wreath began as a German and Scandinavian practice used in homes to mark the four weeks of Advent. Families would light a candle for each past week and the current week at dinner or during evening devotions. The configuration of candles, whether in a line or a circle, did not matter. Neither did the color of the candles (all colors were used). What mattered was the marking of time and the increase of light each week as the darkness of winter permeated the land.

That theme of light becoming brighter in the presence of darkness during Advent is powerful.  Even more so when you think about it as we approach Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a theme that both comforts and excites, because Jesus is our light. Jesus was God's promise fulfilled to save us from the darkness of brokenness, irreconciliation, and unforgiveness. As we gather during this Advent season, let's be joyfully thankful that we can celebrate God's promise fulfilled.  

Luke 1:5-25 (CEB)

John the Baptist’s birth foretold
5 During the rule of King Herod of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. His wife Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron. 6 They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations. 7 They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to become pregnant and they both were very old. 8 One day Zechariah was serving as a priest before God because his priestly division was on duty. 9 Following the customs of priestly service, he was chosen by lottery to go into the Lord’s sanctuary and burn incense. 10 All the people who gathered to worship were praying outside during this hour of incense offering. 11 An angel from the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw the angel, he was startled and overcome with fear.

13 The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah. Your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you must name him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many people will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great in the Lord’s eyes. He must not drink wine and liquor. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before his birth. 16 He will bring many Israelites back to the Lord their God. 17 He will go forth before the Lord, equipped with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will turn the hearts of fathers[a] back to their children, and he will turn the disobedient to righteous patterns of thinking. He will make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure of this? My wife and I are very old.”

19 The angel replied, “I am Gabriel. I stand in God’s presence. I was sent to speak to you and to bring this good news to you. 20 Know this: What I have spoken will come true at the proper time. But because you didn’t believe, you will remain silent, unable to speak until the day when these things happen.”

21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they wondered why he was in the sanctuary for such a long time. 22 When he came out, he was unable to speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he gestured to them and couldn’t speak. 23 When he completed the days of his priestly service, he returned home. 24 Afterward, his wife Elizabeth became pregnant. She kept to herself for five months, saying, 25 “This is the Lord’s doing. He has shown his favor to me by removing my disgrace among other people.”

Application Questions:
This week’s sermon taught that God is a promise keeper. Yet, God’s trustworthiness is often demonstrated unexpectedly. God fulfills God's promises in unexpected ways, at unexpected times, and through unexpected people. This can be found throughout the Christmas story, particularly in the passage above. Even through doubt, we read as God blessed Elizabeth and Zechariah with a son. This son goes on to prepare the way and baptize the Savior of the world.
  • Which part of the scripture stood out to you? Did anything resonate as you read/listened?
  • We see God giving Elizabeth and Zechariah a child long after the typical childbearing age. Pause and reflect on your life. Can you name a time when God delivered on a promise long after it was expected?
  • Share about an instance when God fulfilled the desires of your heart in a way or through a person you least expected.  
  • When your prayers aren’t answered as you hoped, what greater themes could God be teaching you? Has God ever blown your expectations for the better? Speak on that.
Closing Prayer:
Dear God, your everlasting love and mercy for us is amazing. Yet, we stumble. Oh, do we stumble.  Even when your message could not be more clear, we often fail to recognize it when we need it most.  We ask for your forgiveness, Lord.  Help us to put our full trust in you.  Open our minds and our hearts to your unexpected ways.  Grant us hope in this season of Advent.   We pray this through the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.
Taking it Further:
Check these out to take the heart of this series and our discussion further this week:

Way Maker (original), by Sinach 2015

Honest Advent, by Scott Erickson 2020

The Birth of Jesus, by BibleProject 2016

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