This week's Small Group Guide is composed of questions from this week's GPS Guide. The questions relate to the Scripture for that particular day. You can download the full week's GPS as a printable document for the context of each question below (in the printable version, the recommended small group questions are marked with a special bullet point.)
Isaiah introduced the name “Immanuel” (or “Emmanuel”) which meant “God with us.” God was with God’s people in Isaiah’s time, in an ultimate way in Jesus (next Saturday, December 21, we’ll study how Matthew applied Isaiah’s words to Jesus' birth) and is with us today. What settings or practices help to make God’s presence real to you? How do you keep your heart more open to God’s presence than King Ahaz was?
Jeremiah connected God “engraving” God’s instructions on our hearts (an echo of the tables of stone on which God engraved the 10 Commandments—cf. Exodus 31:18) with God mercifully forgiving our sins. In what ways do you believe mercy can change the way a person lives? How, if at all, has your awareness of God’s forgiving mercy in Jesus moved you toward living as God wants you to live?
Tomorrow we’ll look at why and how New Testament Christians applied today’s passage to Jesus. But even before we see at that, is there a sense in which God calls you as a Christ-follower to be a “servant” to others, even people who may not “deserve” your concern or involvement? Might these “servant songs” mean, in part, that it won’t do to stand back in indifferent innocence while others choose actions and attitudes that lead to pain and destruction?
Before Jesus, few students thought Isaiah 53’s picture of suffering applied to the Messiah. But Jesus lived out that passage’s profound truth. “The only ultimate way to conquer evil is to let it be smothered within a willing, living human being. When it is absorbed there… it loses its power and goes no further.”* What does Jesus' choice to defeat evil by being the Suffering Servant tell you about the kind of God you serve? When have you faced evil? How can Jesus’ example guide you toward the only way to truly defeat evil?
* Yancey, Philip, The Jesus I Never Knew. Zondervan. Kindle Edition, p. 204.
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