The Cadence of Christmas: Generosity

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Pastor Russ Richmond

John 3:16

Generosity_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Share a story that someone blessed you with a generous gift in your life? How about a time you were blessed by showing generosity to someone else?
  2. Review the reasons we have to be generous. What motivates you the most and why?
  3. Of all the ways to be give (time, talents, treasures), what is the easiest for you to be generous with? What is the hardest?
  4. What are some ways you need to develop the way you reflect the giving and generous nature of our God?
  5. How can we do all of this from hilarity and freedom , not guilt and grudging obligation?

 

The Cadence of Christmas: Stillness

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Psalm 46 & Mark 6:31-32

Stillness_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Consider what it will take to make stillness practice effective this Advent season.
  2. Do you find stillness comfortable? How about stillness before the Lord? How can Jesus’ invitation in Mark 6:31-32 help you anticipate stillness?
  3. Where will the threats to stillness during Advent come from in your life? How can you guard stillness?
  4. Consider the sources of busyness in your life? Any patterns or practices? Is there anything under the surface of the busy which you need to talk about with God?
  5. Stillness means solitude and silence for the purposes of connecting with God. What will you do to foster connection in your times of stillness this Advent? (Consider—reflect on scripture;  read a Christmas devotional; sing and/or reflect on Christmas carols; journal; pray; draw; paint; walk hike retreat to the beach, closet, or cabin; wake up early; turn your phone off; etc.)

 

Resurrection

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 10-12

Resurrection_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel chapters 10, 11, and 12. Then re-read chapter 12.
  2. Are there repeated words or phrases in the chapters? How are they significant?
  3. Where do you connect with Daniel’s experience in chapters 10-12?
  4. Read Genesis 2:7; 3:19 and Daniel 12:2. What does it mean that God will
    awaken some who sleep in the dust? What does this mean about death and life? (c.f. Isaiah 25:8; 1 Cor. 15:54 and 2 Tim. 1:10)
  5. What verses speak comfort or hope to you from chapter 12? Why?
  6. Read Jesus’ teaching in Matt. 13:36-43. What are some parallel ideas?
  7. Read Acts 1:6-9. What does it look like to “go your way” for Jesus followers? What is the “way” we should be going through life?

Spiritual Exercise: The authors of Scripture often refer to the Christian life as a
marathon or long journey. It takes perseverance and wisdom to finish the course. The writer of Hebrews tells us it is foolish to carry unnecessary weight and sin as we run, walk, or crawl toward Jesus. Read Hebrews 12:1-4. As your read, ask the Holy Spirit to expose any “weight” or “sin” that is hindering your journey. What do you need to do to get gain freedom in this area?

 

A Picture of Prayer

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 9

A Picture of Prayer_Sermon notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 9 straight through. Then, read the prayer (vv.4b-19) out loud.
  2. Are there words which you do not understand in this chapter? If so, look them up here: https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/ved.html
  3. What surprises you about Daniel’s prayer? What might you have expected him to be praying about or for?
  4. What words does Daniel use to describe God and God’s people?
  5. What words would you use to describe Daniel’s prayer? How come?
  6. Verse 13 provides a great description of repentance. What is involved in repenting? The Apostle Paul talks about “godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow” in 2 Cor. 7:10. What is the difference? Why is repentance necessary for a right relationship with God (or anyone)?
  7. Where do you find grace in this chapter? How is God’s grace the hope on which Daniel cries out to God?

Spiritual Exercise: Practice this prayer. Take time each morning and evening to practice prayers of confession and intercession for both your sins and those of God’s church. If you struggle drawing near to God because of your sin, read Hebrews 10:22-25. Rejoice in God’s grace and turn to His face.

 

 

Reality & A Defiant Hope

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 7

Reality and Defiant Hope_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 7 straight through 3 times.
  2. Without attaching a beast to a historical kingdom, but as a group, what do they seem to represent about human kingdoms in general?
  3. Quickly read (or reflect on) Genesis 1-3. How could the biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption help you understand the beasts and “son of man”?
  4. The author crafted this chapter to instill courage in the face of suffering. What are some ways the author exalts God and diminishes the beastly kings?
  5. How do you relate to Daniel’s reactions to his vision? How did Daniel proceed to live in light of this vision? (Note—this was during Belshazzar’s reign.)
  6. Watch The Bible Project (www.thebibleproject.com) video titled “The Son of Man”” or read the article by Kyle Blevins at biblestudytools.com about “Son of Man”. What did you learn?

Spiritual Exercise: Daniel’s reaction to God’s vision was anxiety—a “troubled spirit”. That is understandable! What is troubling you right now? Daniel sought information from God to alleviate his anxiety. This wasn’t wrong but didn’t help much. Yet, his vision of the “Ancient of Days” does gives hope. Remembering God’s rule helps relieve our troubled spirits. So, memorize Psalm 121 and use it to kindle defiant hope

The Window, Not The Lions

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 6

The Window not the Lions_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 6, taking special note of the characters and conflicts.
  2. What instigated the plot to bring down Daniel? What does the plot tell us about Daniel’s witness and the world’s reaction? (c.f. John 15:18-21)
  3. Daniel seemed to have favor and be hated by the leadership (and people?) of Babylon. What might be wrong in our practice of the Christian faith if people are either always offended or never offended by us?
  4. What does the nature of the conspirators’ plot reveal about Daniel’s spiritual life?
  5. Read verse 10 carefully. Is Daniel doing something unusual and flashy, or habitual and private? How does this help us understand displaying God’s grace?
  6. Where was Daniel looking when he prayed? How do you think his posture and view helped him be a humble servant and willing resistor? (c.f. Jer. 29:11; 1 Kings 8:46-53; Col. 3:1-4) How can you apply this to your prayer life?

Spiritual Exercise: Jesus said that we are blessed when persecuted for His name’s sake and in danger when all people speak well of us. Jesus calls us to be salt and light in the world and prays for our protection from the evil one in the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you may need to stop hiding from, or yelling at, the world, in order to influence the people in your world with Gods’ love. Keep in step.

 

Soteriology Ends the Soiree

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 5

Soteriology Ends the Soiree_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 5. What verse most stands out to you? Why?
  2. Think about the party (vv.1-4) against the backdrop of the imminent fall of Babylon (5:30-31). It seems Belshazzar might be medicating himself against his mortality… how do people in Corvallis medicate themselves against their mortality?
  3. The author abruptly juxtaposes Nebuchadnezzar’s humbling (Daniel 4) with Belshazzar’s condemnation (Daniel 5). What seems to be the difference between King Neb and King Bel? Is this about information or response?
  4. What can you learn about serving Jesus from Daniel in this chapter?
  5. Where does Jesus talk about parties and banquets that can give you hope?
  6. Spiritual Exercise: Read and reflect upon Psalm 23. Consider it in light of Daniel 5. In prayer, ask the Lord to show you how He is brining the promises of the Psalm into your daily life.

 

The Opposing Powers of Pride & Humility

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 4

The Opposing Powers of Pride & Humility_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 4. What are some repeated phrases or words? How does this help you identify the major theme?
  2. What can you learn from Daniel’s role in this story?
  3. Read Romans 1:21-32. Consider Nebuchadnezzar’s judgment in light of Paul’s teaching on God “giving over”. How can pride lead to dehumanizing?
  4. Read carefully Nebuchadnezzar’s language before his humiliation (vv.29-30) and after his restoration (vv.1-3 and vv.34-39). What are some marks of humility, some changes, you see in Nebuchadnezzar’s words?
  5. Is there a time in your life when God, in His graciousness, humbled you? How did you grow through that experience?
  6. How can you use this passage to build a healthy self-confidence?
  7. Spiritual Exercise: The king’s state of mind changed when his eyes moved and he looked upward. This week, if your pride is showing in insecurity or arrogance, or you are feeling anxious from scarcity or while “content and prosperous”, turn your eyes to heaven in humble acknowledgment of God’s rule and ask Him to restore your “reason” and find peace in His reign.

 

Courage in Resistance

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Pastor Steve Thomas

Daniel 3

Courage in Resistance_Sermon Notes

Going Deeper:

  1. Read Daniel 3. What was the author’s purpose in writing this after the event? After reading the story, what leaves an impression on you?
  2. Consider carefully the words in vv.16-18. What do the words teach about faith and God’s deliverance from suffering? What compelled the guys to stand?
  3. In what ways do you think God’s work of deliverance in Daniel 3 is normative for those suffering persecution or unique to these three guys? Why?
  4. Where can you find hope to give you courage to resist the idols in our culture?
  5. Read Exodus 20:1-6. According to Exodus 20:1-6—what can become an idol in our lives? Tim Keller defines an idol as “anything that becomes more functionally fundamental to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity then God.” What are some idols you see people worshipping? What idol do you struggle with?

Spiritual Exercise: The example of faith in Daniel 3 clarifies that faith is not just
doctrinal ascent, but active obedience. They obeyed God’s revealed will (Exo. 20:5) and trusted God with the results. Is there a situation in your life where you need to stand and obey God’s revealed will, trusting Him with the resulting circumstances? Remember, you are not standing alone “… But I see four men… and the fourth is like a son of the gods.” (Dan. 3:25). “I will be with you always…” (Mat. 28:20).