This is the time of year where we, in the church world, like to stop to remember that Jesus is the “reason for the season.” He sure is. But, have you noticed that the way Jesus described his purpose here is a little different than our traditional understanding of what he came here to do? How are those two perspectives different, and what would Jesus himself say is the real message of Christmas?
Lifegroup Discussion Questions are up next!
Hope Tree Part 1 Complete!
As you know, we delivered all 51 of the Hope Tree School presents last week. It was really great to get around to the schools, talk with the guidance counselors, and provide for some real needs among the kids in our community. Thanks to everyone who provided a gift, and who participated in sorting, organizing, and delivering! A VERY SPECIAL thank you goes to Glenda Murphy, who organizes it all! It was a lot of work, but it was worth it!
The delivery team at Gilmer Middle School
Next up are Tower Road deliveries, which will be taking place soon. I will keep you updated on those as they happen!
Gift Wrapping This Weekend!
Who likes wrapping gifts? NOBODY! Get someone else to do your dirty work, and support next Summer’s Scotland Mission Team by having your Christmas gifts wrapped THIS SUNDAY! You can bring your gifts to the church Sunday morning, and pick them up by Sunday afternoon. Details are below!GIFT WRAPPING
Message Discussion Questions
Before we get into the discussion, I just wanted to remind you can always have access to the message audio PRIOR to your life group by SUBSCRIBING to our podcast using your podcast app on your mobile device. You can subscribe on IOS, Android, and Windows Mobile at the link below. Subscribe, and always have each week’s message automatically delivered right to you!OUR PODCAST
The Podcasts app is free on IOS. You have to pay for one on Android.. Because you know the truth, don’t you, Aaron Hauck?
On Sunday, I started off the message asking “do we have this right?”
I made the contrast between CHRISTMAS and CHRISTIANS.
Did that surprise you? What did you think about that?
Have you ever thought about the idea that the focus of Jesus isn’t so much getting you to heaven, as getting heaven here?
Frankly, we should really understand this, shouldn’t we? It isn’t like Jesus obscured this idea… In fact, Jesus actually began his ministry with these words:
Mark 1:15 (NLT)
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
What does this mean? What is “The Kingdom of God?” (we have talked about this before.)
The Kingdom of God is not heaven, nor is it the church.
The Kingdom is wherever the King has authority. It is where HE rules supreme.
The Psalmist rejoiced when in view of the Kingdom. To him, salvation wasn’t as much a personal rescue from hell, as much as a salvation from the kingdom of this world by the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Psalm 145:10–13 (NLT)
All of your works will thank you, Lord, and your faithful followers will praise you.
They will speak of the glory of your kingdom; they will give examples of your power.
They will tell about your mighty deeds and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. You rule throughout all generations.
Zephaniah prophesied in the 7th century BC:
Zephaniah 3:14–20 (NLT)
Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!
For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy.
And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you!
At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster.
On that day the announcement to Jerusalem will be,
“Cheer up, Zion! Don’t be afraid! For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
“I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more.
And I will deal severely with all who have oppressed you. I will save the weak and helpless ones; I will bring together those who were chased away. I will give glory and fame to my former exiles, wherever they have been mocked and shamed.
On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes.
I, the Lord, have spoken!”
So, can you contrast our typical understanding of Jesus’ purpose with the Biblical view of Jesus’ purpose? How is what we see here different from what we normally preach and teach about?
According to Mark, (below) what is Jesus’ response to the disciples who keep people from the Kingdom?
Mark 10:13–15 (NLT)
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”
Our role here is to reveal the Kingdom, not to cover up. In fact, aren’t we supposed to actually pray for this to happen? (See Jesus’ instruction, below.)
Matthew 6:9 (ESV)
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
What if you and I are the answer to that prayer? What if God intends to use you and me to bring His kingdom even more into Ellijay, to Gilmer County, and beyond? What would that mean for me?