First Sunday of Advent

First Sunday of Advent Season of Advent 2017 HOPE: God has remembered… Luke 1:5-25; 57-80 December 3rd, 2017

I. There is ALWAYS a STORY… (v.5-7)
A. 400 YEARS of SILENCE. (Mal. 4:5-6)
B. ANOTHER unlikely COUPLE. (v.7,39)
C. Names: God REMEMBERS, God has PROMISED, God GIVES. (v.5,13)

Today begins our season of Advent, our yearly time of preparation to celebrate the greatest gift ever given, Jesus. Advent means “coming” and during this season we look back to Jesus’ coming to Bethlehem and look forward to His coming at the end of time. We also seek to see how He comes into our world day to day. And in our text today, just like in our lives, there is always a story.

1. When has God been silent in your life? How did that impact you?
2. Why is advent an important season in our Christian Year? What lessons does it remind us of as we cycle through our lives?

A. “COINCIDENCES” and RITUAL. (v.8-10)
B. An EXAMPLE of multiple “UNEXPECTEDS”. (v.11-17)
C. “HOW can I be SURE?” (v.18)
D. Not the SIGN that he WANTED. (v.19-25)

There is so much behind this angelic visitation. It’s almost miraculous that Zechariah is even in the role he plays that day. He awoke that morning with no sense of what lay ahead. And that day would change his life forever. From them on, everything was before the angel and after the angel. His defining moment can become ours as well.

3. What have been “defining moments” in your own spiritual life? Why were they so important?
4. How has God used “coincidences and unexpecteds” in your own life? How has he used ritual and spiritual habits?
5. Do you identify with Zechariah as he says, “How can I be sure?” When have you felt that way?

III. The SONG of a grateful FATHER. (v.68-79)
A. It’s about a KING and a SON (v.69,76)
B. The King will RESCUE and ENABLE us. (v.69-75)
C. The Son will PREPARE the WAY. (v.76-79)
D. MERCY will bring FORGIVENESS and PEACE. (v.77-79)

Luke includes 4 “songs” that will form our road map for Advent this year. Zechariah cries out in joy his prophecy/song that helps us to see what is to come. As usual, the text helps us to better see what God is up to and to encourage us to trust that God remembers us.

6. What line(s) of Zechariah’s song are you particularly drawn to? Why might that be?
7. What does it mean to you that God will “enable you to serve Him without fear”? Have you found that to be true in your own experience?

IV. The STORY and SONG in our life.
A. God REMEMBERS and FULFILLS His promises. (v.69-75; Dt. 31:6)
B. Don’t make CERTAINTY your IDOL. (v.18; I Jn 5:21)
C. Choose HOPE over FEAR. (v.13,74; I Pet. 1:3-6)
D. PREPARE the WAY… (v.76; 2 Cor. 2:15)

We always get to here, don’t we. What is this text saying to me? How do I encounter God in this story of a mute, old priest from 2000 years ago? There is plenty to chew on, about who God is, about how we live, and about what our role is in the story that God is telling.

8. In what areas of your life has certainty become an idol for you? How can you address that and begin to live with trust instead of seeking certainty?
9. What is one clear way or one specific circumstance where you can chose hope over fear this week?
10.Where and how is God calling you to prepare the way for Jesus this week?

“…We are created with a core need to feel fully alive, unconditionally loved and worthwhile, and ultimately secure, and God created us with this need because he wants to meet it, and is the only one who can actually meet it. An idol, I argue, is anything we use in place of God to meet this core need. While many people try to meet this need with the idols of wealth, power, success, sex and other such things, many Christians try to meet it with the idol of certainty-seeking faith. The quest to feel certain becomes an idol when a person’s sense of significance to God and security before God is anchored not in their simple trust of God’s character, as revealed on the cross, but in how certain they feel about the rightness of their beliefs. This form of idolatry is a danger whenever people assume (rightly) that they are saved by faith while also (mistakenly) equating faith with their sense of certainty. For it means they now feel “saved” – uniquely significant and secure before God – on the basis of their psychological certainty… Biblical faith isn’t about feeling certain, but about a willingness to commit to living for God in the face of uncertainty.”
— Greg Boyd