Tag Archives: experience

Rediscovering the Christmas Season XXIV – “So Loved”


JOHN 3:16 NKJV – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

So Loved.
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Exposure: Christmas Eve is the last day of Advent. One verse sums it up the best. Read John 3:16. Make a really huge poster or sign of it like you see at sports events or stadiums and post it outside your home.

Exploration: Do you feel so loved today?

Expression: Say this verse aloud. Memorize it if you haven’t already. What has been your greatest moment of being a Jesus follower? What has been your worst moment as a Jesus follower?

Experience: Reflect on your experiences this Christmas season. Attend a Christmas Eve worship service with friends and family.

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XXIII


He’s Coming Back!

Exposure: Read some parables Jesus told about when He would return.

Exploration: What do you think is the main point of the chapter? You’ve done a lot to get ready for Christmas. What can you do to be ready for the Second Advent?

Expression: How are you preparing for the return of Jesus? Discuss with friends and family or journal about what you want to do to be ready for that day.

Experience: How would your life be different today if you believed Jesus was returning at midnight? If something springs to mind that you would do differently, go do it now.

MATTHEW 25:1-46 (NKJV)

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Some Favorite Parables

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them,  but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.  But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’  Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise answered, saying, ‘ No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying,; ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’  But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour  in which the Son of Man is coming. “For the kingdom of heaven is  like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them.  And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey.  Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents.  And likewise he who had received two gained two more also.  But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.  After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. “So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’  He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’  His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ “Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ “But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.  Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;  I was  naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:  for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’  Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XXII – Joy


PSALM 100:1-5 NKJV – Make a joyful shout to the Lord , all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord , He is God; It  is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We  are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord  is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Joy
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Exposure: Read the passage from Psalms. Get a group together and go Christmas caroling. If you don’t know all the words, print out copies of the lyrics before you go out. You can go through your neighborhood or revisit one of the people you’ve met this month as you’ve reached out to serve.

Exploration: What were people’s responses to your singing? What is your favorite Christmas caroling song? Why is it your favorite song?

Expression: Copy down in your own handwriting the lyrics to your favorite Christmas carol. Ask God to use this season to help you experience the joy and peace the song communicates in a new way this year.

Experience: What is your favorite memory of a Christmas carol?

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XXI – the Greatest Story Ever Told


JOHN 21:25 NKJV – And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Exposure: Christmas is getting closer! It will be easy to lose focus on Him as the season gets busier. Read the last verse of the Gospel of John. Gather some friends or family and watch the 1965 movie classic The Greatest Story Ever Told. It’s available on DVD or online.

Exploration: What is your favorite part about Jesus’ life?

Expression: How did the movie help your understanding of Jesus’ life? How did watching that with others open up opportunities for good discussion?

Experience: How has your story become a part of the greatest story? Journal about the role you have played in God’s big story.

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XIX -Pray


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Pray

Exposure: Read the passage about Jesus teaching His followers how to pray. Use the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern to write down a prayer that has some of those same ideas in it.

Exploration: What parts of Jesus’ prayer pattern do you often leave out of the times you pray? How was writing down your prayer different from just saying it?

Expression: Read your prayer out loud. Ask someone you trust to pray along with you.

Experience: Discuss with friends or family or about a time in your life where God answered an important prayer.

LUKE 11:1-13 NKJV

Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us day by day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.” And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves;  for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’;  and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Rediscovering the Christmas Season XVIII – Fast


Fast

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Exposure: Read the passage about fasting. Christmas is generally a time of feasting. Take at least a day to fast from something.

Exploration: Why do you think Jesus asked us to fast? What kind of fasting does Isaiah say the Lord requires?

Expression: Why do you think it is so difficult for people to make this a habit? How can you incorporate fasting into your regular habits of worship?

Experience: Journal about your experiences with fasting. What did you learn? How did it change you? Consider joining a large group of believers who set aside the first 21 days of the New Year to fast.

ISAIAH 58:1-14 NKJV

“Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they  say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’ “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you  do this day, To make your voice heard on high. Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is  it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord ? “ Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? Is  it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh? Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am. ’ “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In. “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your  own words, Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord ; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

MATTHEW 6:16-18 NKJV

“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.  But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face,  so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XVII


Adopt a Family

Exposure: Read the passage about how we have been adopted as children of God through Christ. Many people adopt a family to help during Christmas. Find someone who needs a family this Christmas and make plans to be that family for them.

Exploration: What is the difference between adopting a family to help at Christmas and literally adopting a child into your family? What does this language communicate about God’s commitment to loving us?

Expression: What rights and privileges do children of royalty have? What are some ways you don’t fully live as if you were a child of God?

Experience: Find someone who has been adopted and talk to them about what it means in their life. Journal about what their experiences reveal to you about living as a child of God and loving others in that same way.

GAL 4:1-7 NKJV

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

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Rediscovering the Christmas Experience XVI – The Nativity


The Nativity

Exposure: Read about the kings who came to worship Jesus. Look at the pieces of a nativity set and consider the features the artist used to show that the scene is centered on Christ.

Exploration: What do you think it would have been like to be right in the middle of that? What stance or position would you take in that scene?

Expression: The wise men worshiped Jesus by kneeling. Get on your knees and express to Him right now how much you love Him. How does just being in that position change the position of your heart?

Experience: The wise men also worshiped by offering their best gifts. Think of a creative way to offer worship today that has nothing to do with singing.

MATTHEW 2:1-12 NKJV

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, Are not the least among the rulers of Judah; For out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ” Then Herod, when he had secretly called the wise men, determined from them what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, that I may come and worship Him also.” When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way.

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season XIII – Concert


Concert

Exposure: Read the passage. Make arrangements to go watch a Christmas concert or play. Go outside your normal circles and attend one at a church you’ve never visited or in a part of town you don’t often drive through.

Exploration: What part of the concert or play meant the most to you? What did you learn just from the setting and the people you watched it with?

Expression: How is God like a conductor or director? How can you apply the discipline of rehearsal to improve your relationship with God?

Experience: Discuss with friends or family or journal about a time in your life when you were completely in tune with what God wanted for your life. What are some spiritual disciplines that you need to rehearse more regularly to get back in sync with God?

Psalms 150:1-6 NKJV

Praise the Lord !
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;

Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance;

Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord .

Praise the Lord !

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Rediscovering the Christmas Season – December 5th


Lights

Exposure: Read these passages about Jesus being the light. Research the beginnings of the tradition of Christmas lights. Drive around town with a group of friends or family and look at the different expressions of lights.

Exploration: How is Jesus the light of world? Think about the scientific facts you know about light. In what ways is light the perfect illustration God created from the beginning to illuminate who Jesus is?

Expression: Why do you think Jesus refers to His followers as the light of the world? What would that mean for your life to be a light in your relationships and situations?

Experience: How has your life been a light to those around you? Make a point to be light during this season.

MAT 4:12-17 NKJV

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

ISA 9:1-3 NKJV

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed, As when at first He lightly esteemed The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, And afterward more heavily oppressed her, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the  c/x=-O  of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. You have multiplied the nation And increased its joy; They rejoice before You According to the joy of harvest, As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.

MAT 5:14-16 NKJV

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

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