Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Conspiracy 02: Rebel Follow-Up

Week 2 of Advent Conspiracy: Rebel has happened. Take the time to listen to the podcast or just dive straight into this study to help you prepare for one of the holiest days of the year. Do it yourself or get together with some friends, family or strangers and discuss.

READ: Matthew 2:1-12

What is your favourite tradition related to Christmas?

Who are three “Magi” or wise men you turn to for advice?

Why was it important that Jesus be born in Bethlehem?

Since the Magi were pagan astrologers, why would they leave everything in order to follow that star?

In light of the prophecy (v.6), why was Herod so concerned that the baby be found?

Note the responses of the Magi upon seeing Jesus. How is that similar to the response that Christians make to Jesus? How is it different?

What do the star , the Magi, the gifts, the homage, the hostility and the prophecy teach about the significance of Jesus?

In your journey toward God, how are you like the Magi? Unlike them? Have you had to leave anything to follow Jesus? What is the “gold, incense, and myrrh” in your life? How have you offered this to Jesus?

If Jesus is all about the “Kingdom” & Caesar is all about the “Empire” what Caesars are you facing? Will it make a difference how you respond?

What do you want to rebel against in the empire that surrounds you?

What can you put on the line this year to not compromise?

What would this look like to your friends or family?

Will it motivate them or freak them out?

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Mary’s initial reaction to the angel’s appearance was: fear, confusion, doubt, faith, concern, curiosity?

Why did God choose Mary to give birth to His Son? 1. She earned the honour by her holy life. 2. she was at the right place at the right time. 3. her lineage was correct. 4. he had her in mind from the beginning. 5. only God knows why he picked her.

What do you think was the hardest for May to comprehend? 1. the fact that she was favoured by God 2. a pregnancy before marriage 3. who her child was going to be 4. how all this fits into God’s plan.

How do you think Mary felt about giving birth to the Messiah? Scared, honoured, burdened, glad, lonely, wait-and-see?

Why did the angel tell Mary about Elizabeth’s condition? 1. to prove God’s power 2. to unfold the rest of God’s plan 3. to encourage her 4. to give her something else to think about?

After this encounter with the angel, how did Mary envision herself? 1. ascending a throne 2. as a lowly servant 3. as a surrogate mother 4. as an ordinary person?


The Way

You know, salvation isn't a do-it-yourself, choose-your-own-path kind of thing. You gotta pick the right door. Jesus explained in Luke 13.

Luke 13:24-25, 29-30 (New Living Translation)

24 “Work hard to enter the narrow door to God’s Kingdom, for many will try to enter but will fail. 25 When the master of the house has locked the door, it will be too late. You will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Lord, open the door for us!’ But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’"

Ok, you won't reach Heaven through the most traveled, most popular way. Think about it for yourself:

"And people will come from all over the world—from east and west, north and south—to take their places in the Kingdom of God. 30 And note this: Some who seem least important now will be the greatest then, and some who are the greatest now will be least important then.”

The choice is yours.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lookin' For Trouble?

You know, there's enough trouble in this world. Don't go looking for it.

Proverbs 20:3 (New Living Translation)

3 Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor;
only fools insist on quarreling.

Proverbs 13:10 (English Standard Version)

10 By insolence comes nothing but strife,
but with those who take advice is wisdom.

Proverbs 16:28 (New Living Translation)

28 A troublemaker plants seeds of strife;
gossip separates the best of friends.

Proverbs 21:23 (New Living Translation)

23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut,
and you will stay out of trouble.

The wisest guy that ever lived wrote that stuff! And you know, sometimes our tongues can get us in the most trouble. More on that tomorrow.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Got A Light?

God's Word is like a know, that you may use when camping in a dark forest to get from your tent past the outhouses to the dining hall to the campfire.

Without that flashlight, you may trip and fall by accidentally putting your foot into a shallow hole filled with water and leaves forcing you to wait there, stuck in the dark until a large camper who also has no flashlight finds you and punches you repeatedly before taking your marshmallows and s'mores chocolate...

Bottom line--you need a flashlight. And God's Word is like a flashlight:

Psalm 119:105-112 (New Living Translation)

105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
106 I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again:
I will obey your righteous regulations.
107 I have suffered much, O LORD;
restore my life again as you promised.
108 LORD, accept my offering of praise,
and teach me your regulations.
109 My life constantly hangs in the balance,
but I will not stop obeying your instructions.
110 The wicked have set their traps for me,
but I will not turn from your commandments.
111 Your laws are my treasure;
they are my heart’s delight.
112 I am determined to keep your decrees
to the very end.

The Word of God is important. Don't forget, it's like a camping flashlight! Determine today to read and follow God's Word.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

THOUGHT: The Word of God

Why is this Bible thing so important? Well, here's a little something to answer that from Hebrews.

Hebrews 4:12 (New Living Translation)

12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

Alive and powerful...exposes thoughts and desires. Give that some thought.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THOUGHT: A Revisioned World

Ok: It's August 16, 1965--Imagine you are in line to see the Beatles, yes, THE Beatles, play Shea Stadium in New York City. Arguably one of the most famous concerts in rock history. Cars are barely moving, lining up, trying to get close to the stadium. John, Paul, George, and Ringo themselves have to take a helicopter to get to the show on time just because of the traffic.

Now, would you want to be at the front of the line or the back? Front row seats, or nosebleeds? Jesus talks to his disciples about being first or last:

Mark 9:33-37 (New Living Translation)

33 After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” 34 But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. 35 He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.”

36 Then he put a little child among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also my Father who sent me.”

You want to be first? Then be last. You want to hang out with the greatest, then hang out with the least. Get it?


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ANNOUNCEMENT: A Christmas Treat For You!

Here is a wee Christmas treat for you. (ok not here exactly. Check the podcast)

As we count down to Christmas I am going to be sharing with you a great story that helps to describe what it might have been like in Heaven around the first Christmas. I will be reading chapter by chapter Max Lucado's "An Angel's Story"; so we can experience this story together.

Hope you enjoy coming back for new episodes periodically as I read you a goodnight story :)


THOUGHT: Confession

Psalm 51:1-10, is actually a prayer. So, let's pray:

Psalm 51:1-10 (New Living Translation)

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgment against me is just.
5 For I was born a sinner--
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.

7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me--
now let me rejoice.
9 Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Renew a loyal spirit within me.

Enjoy your day, because with confession comes freedom.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Advent Conspiracy: 4 Words That Could Change Your Christmas 01: Worship Followup

Give a little listen to the podcast that starts this new series up. Does it make you think? Do you think that you will be willing and able to join the Advent Conspiracy?

Read: Luke 2:1-20

What’s your favourite thing about Christmas?

When you were a child, what part did you ever play in the Christmas pageant?

Suppose this group acted out the Christmas story. Who would you choose to play Joseph? Mary? The innkeeper? The shepherds? The angels?

What is the closest you’ve come to experiencing the presence of angels watching over you?

How would you feel if an angel suddenly appeared to you with a message about God’s plan for your life?

Who was the “angel” that first told you about Jesus? What effect has this good news had on you?

From Another Angle:

Pregnant before marriage. Broke. Homeless. If you were Mary and Joseph’s friend, what chance would you have given them? A. none B. 50/50 C. uphill all the way D. a great way to begin

Why do you suppose the Saviour of the world was born in an obscure village and laid in a manger? A. to fulfill Old Testament prophecy B. to show he was an ordinary person C. it just happened that way D. he demanded no special favours E. God didn’t want to draw attention to his son’s birth F. No place would have been as grand as he deserved.

What effect did the angelic visit have on the shepherds? A. they wondered if they had been dreaming B. They saw God in a new way C. Their lives were changed forever D. It was soon business as usual.

What do you think the shepherds were most excited to tell others? A. about hearing the angels sing B. about seeing the newborn baby C. God’s plan for their salvation D. that the angel’s words were true E. that the wait for Messiah was over

Do you think Mary & Joseph understood the full significance of the child they brought into the world? A. probably not B. up to a point C. Mary could have D. They must have E. they couldn’t have.

What effect has the news of Christ’s birth had on you? A. business as usual B. spiritual commitment C. aw awakened sense of joy D. hope for the future E. thankfulness for God’s forgiveness F. confusion about God’s plan

How would you describe your relationship with Jesus Christ now?

If you were to spread the word about Jesus has done for you, with whom would you speak first?


THOUGHT: The Message

You know, Marshall McLuhan once said, "The medium is the message." Basically, how something is taught might be more important than what is taught. Keep that in mind as you listen to Paul talk about his work.

2 Corinthians 5:11-12 (New Living Translation)

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. 12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.

When it comes to sharing God's love with others, our actions say way more than our words do. Remember, your life may be the only medium for your friends to see Jesus. So, what message are you sending them?



Ok, so, does God ever seem like He's just so far away to you? Well, maybe not as far as you think.

Psalm 139:7-10, 13-16 (New Living Translation)

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
9 If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
. . .

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

God's right there with you. Right now.


Friday, November 20, 2009

THOUGHT: Generous: Be It

Here's a little something about generosity: Give generously!

2 Corinthians 8:7 (New Living Translation)

7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (New Living Translation)

6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

You know, this is more than just about money, it's about the things you're good at. It's about your time. It's about love.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

THOUGHT: Your Life=Important

Today it's all about Psalm 121. The cool thing is, your life matters to God!

Psalm 121:1-8 (New Living Translation)

1 I look up to the mountains--
does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!

3 He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.

5 The LORD himself watches over you!
The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon at night.

7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
both now and forever.

God totally cares about you. And remember, He gives you strength, so if you need it today, ask for it.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THOUGHT: Memories

So, what should others remember about you? God clues us in, in Philippians 4:5.

Philippians 4:5 (New Living Translation)

5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

...and again in Colossians 3:12.

Colossians 3:12 (New Living Translation)

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us Who creates those kind of qualities in us:

Galatians 5:22-23 (New Living Translation)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!


THOUGHT: BACKPACK 04: Follow Up 07

Read 1 Corinthians 10:33.

1 Corinthians 10:33 (New International Version)

33even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

How is thinking about what others think of you good in this case?

Rock Climbing Tonight! Meet @ Rock & Chalk 482 Ontario Street in Newmarket.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

THOUGHT: So You're Dead...Now What? 04 Q&A Follow Up

Listen to the podcast and get a feel for some of the questions that we dealt with and then work your way through this study to help apply God's truth to your life.

Ice Breaker:

If you could have the answer to any question about what happens after you die, what would it be? Why? In the book of Hebrews we find this passage about heaven:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

Do you believe people in heaven can see what is happening on earth? Why or why not?
"I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 14:6 (NIV)
Christ followers are sometimes accused of being narrow minded when they say there is only one way to get to heaven. How would you respond if you were accused of being narrow minded for believing this?
Do you believe we will we remember our lives when we are in heaven? Why or why not?

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:13-14 (NIV)

What do you think happens to people who have never heard about Jesus?

What step can your group take this week to introduce more people to Jesus and the hope of heaven?

For Further Study

Revelation 7:9-15

What are some things about earth you won't miss in heaven?

Where did John see a great gathering of people? (7:9) What were the people John saw wearing and holding? (7:9) What was the crowd before the throne saying? (7:10) What group was around the throne worshiping? (7:11) What were the angels, the elders, and the four creatures
saying to God and about God? (7:12) Who spoke to John and what did this person say? (7:13) How did John respond to the elder's question? (7:14) What is the main job of the believers who had survived? (7:15)

What does it mean to you that "a great multitude" will serve God day and night in His heavenly temple?
What is the difference between singing a hymn and singing an ordinary song?
What is the significance of the fact that the angels and elders around the throne of God fall down and worship God?
What new insights into the character of God does this passage give you?

What step can you take this week to praise and thank God more consistently?



Having a bad day? Today I have a little something to cheer you up:

God says:

Malachi 3:6 (New Living Translation)

"I am the Lord, and I do not change."

Because of that, I can trust all God's promises. Promises like:

Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

"I will never fail you."

Psalm 32:8 (NLT)

"I will guide you."

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

"My gracious favor is all you need."

Philippians 4:19 (NLT)

"[I] will supply all your needs."

Everything else in your life can be junk, but God and His promises never change. So, when life is crappy, keep this in mind. Jesus is in you and He promises to be there for you. Always. Unchanged.


THOUGHT: BACKPACK 04: Follow Up 06

One more proverb about keeping a good reputation: Read Proverbs 25:10.

Proverbs 25:10 (New International Version)

10 or he who hears it may shame you
and you will never lose your bad reputation.

How hard is it to repair a bad reputation?


Monday, November 16, 2009

THOUGHT: BACKPACK 04: Follow Up 05

Read Proverbs 24:8.

Proverbs 24:8 (New International Version)

8 He who plots evil
will be known as a schemer.

What’s your reputation like? Is it something you want God to help you change?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

THOUGHT: BACKPACK 04: Follow Up 04

Check out what Proverbs 22:1 has to say about your reputation.

Proverbs 22

1 A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.

How can you rely on God to build a good name?