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The Christmas season has arrived! This past weekend, we kicked off a special holiday series titled “Peace” as Pastor Doug shared a message from Isaiah 1 and 9. In this message, we came to understand what peace is and why the peace we all seek and long for can only be found in Jesus.
Dive deeper into this teaching on your own, with your family, or in your group! Check out expanded notes and summaries from the teaching, small group questions, and get informed on some of the great resources available to you.
Click here to watch this past weekend’s message in its entirety.
Below you’ll find a recap of the key discussion points from Pastor Doug’s message and a few questions to reflect on and consider with your family, your circle of friends, or in your group.
Ice-Breaker: What does peace mean to you?
KEY VERSE: Isaiah 1:2
MAIN THOUGHT: Life Happens
DISCUSSION POINT: Life has way of revealing weaknesses and flaws in our way of thinking. So often, the way we perceive life, the things we place value on, the goals and desires we strive for, the very foundation upon which our identity and purpose are built upon are like a house on sand. At the first sign of serious trouble, of devastation and trials, these faulty ideas come crashing down and leave us searching for answers. And sometimes it doesn’t even take devastation. Sometimes, even when everything seems to be going the way we want it to, there is still a gnawing sense of unrest, a lack of peace, and an anxiety that dulls and distorts the way we see our lives and circumstances.
Discussion Question 1: How have your circumstances this year, or throughout your life, caused you to rethink things and search for answers?
KEY VERSE: Isaiah 9:6–7
MAIN THOUGHT: God’s Judgment Is Not the Final Word
DISCUSSION POINT: The Book of Isaiah presents us with the revelation of God’s judgment against the people of Israel for their sins. The warning in it is clear: Rebellion has a cost—judgment will come. For Israel, this came in the form of exile from their land, the destruction of their temple, and subjugation under major empires. But this word of judgment was not the final word from God to His people, because throughout this powerful book, hope, peace, restoration, redemption, and salvation are declared. Prophecies are given about the coming Savior, the long-awaited Messiah, who will bring peace and wash away the sins of the people.
Discussion Question 2: How can the narrative of Isaiah and the intermingling of suffering and salvation and judgment and peace bring comfort and hope for us today?
KEY VERSE: Isaiah 1:18
MAIN THOUGHT: God Invites Us into a Conversation
DISCUSSION POINT: All suffering, struggle, pain, loss, uncertainty, and unrest are a product of the fall of man. You see, three key disorders came from the Fall: 1) the disorder within ourselves as our desires drag us away from God, 2) the resulting disorder between ourselves and God, and 3) the disorder between humanity—the struggle against one another. Each ended in a complete breakdown of relationship and loss of peace. But God didn’t leave us without hope and help, without answers. He sent Jesus to save us! That’s what Christmas is all about. It’s about the peace He brings through faith in His Son. It’s about God becoming man in order to bring man back into right relationship with God, oneself, and others.
God desires a relationship with us and for us. So, when we feel a lack of peace, it is guaranteed to be an issue with one of the three disorders (lack of peace within ourselves, lack of peace with God, or lack of peace with others).
Discussion Question 3: How does a right relationship with God through Jesus impact the disorders within ourselves and our relationships with others?
KEY VERSE: Isaiah 7:14
DISCUSSION POINT: Here is God’s diagnoses of what keeps us from peace.
You won’t find peace if you live in . . .
1) Rebellion: Stop doing it all your way. The solution for this is to repent and turn back to Him.
2) Self-centeredness: Stop making it about you and only caring about yourself. The solution is to focus on others; seek to do justice, to be generous, to live to give not to get.
3) Idolatry: Stop trusting in people or things for your peace. No matter the era, century, or season, humanity is consistent in its attachment to idols. Whether it’s statues of gods or people (presidents, athletes, celebrities, activists, or even pastors) or things (the economy, the government, your country, nationality, bank account, career, image, entertainment).
The solution is to place your peace, hope, identity, purpose, belonging, value, and worship in your Savior and Redeemer. If you place your hope in anything else, it’s misplaced! But if your hope is in Jesus, the Immanuel, God with us, who is Himself your peace (Ephesians 2:14), then your hope will never disappoint (Romans 5:3–5).
Discussion Question 4: How do these three things keep us from having true peace?
Discussion Question 5: How can we help one another in these areas?
MAIN THOUGHT: An Invitation Requires a Response
DISCUSSION POINT: God is inviting you to experience peace. Please know, peace is not absence of suffering. It’s the presence of God with you in the midst of whatever life throws at you. He is there in those moments; He is weaving all things together for His glory and working all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His good and wonderful purposes (Romans 8:28). Peace is also not the denial of pain or loss. You see, you don’t have to be happy to have hope. You can be in pain and be at peace, because in the pain and mourning, you can receive the comfort of God. In John 14:27 (NIV), Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” This is the invitation God has extended to us through His Son—the reason for the season; the gift of Christmas.
Pause: This week, ask yourself these three questions: 1) Is there an area of my life that requires repentance? 2) Is there any part of my life where I see injustice and can do something to make it right? 3) Is there a person or thing I look to in order to bring me peace?
Ponder: What have you learned this year regarding peace?
Practice: This week, pray for the peace of God to reach people like never before this Christmas. Pray that many would come to know the true peace of Jesus.
Parents, here are a few questions to go over with your kids around the dinner table or during dedicated family times.
Discussion Question 1: Can you think of a time when something scary was happening but your mom or dad said everything was going to be okay in the end? How does having hope and peace help you through the hard things?
Discussion Question 2: Have you had to think about things more because of what has happened this year? What kind of things have you had to think about? Have you thought about how last year you were able to spend time with friends whenever you wanted but not this year?
Discussion Question 3: Does having a relationship with Jesus change how we see ourselves or other people? For example, do you love your brother a bit more because God loves your brother a LOT? Jesus calls us to love our brothers.
Discussion Question 4: Can you think of things that keep us from feeling okay or comfortable? Why do they make you feel that way?
Discussion Question 5: How can we help other people feel better when they’re in pain? Can we encourage them with words, hugs, or by being nice to them?
In this 25-day plan, you’ll get to read all about the gift of peace that comes through Jesus and how we can experience it as we look at the familiar story of Christmas through a different lens. Journey through the Christmas stories found in Matthew and Luke, as well as a variety of passages explaining the true peace Jesus came to give us! To subscribe, click here.
In week two of our Christmas series, Pastor Doug will share how we can exchange anxiety for peace, what true peace looks like, and how we can join Jesus in the fight!
We look forward to spending another awesome weekend with you!
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Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.