This post is the second in a series adapted from Anticipating His Arrival, a family Advent devotional by Rick Brannan. We will be posting one devotional a day through Christmas.
Isaiah 64:1–4, 8–11
Would that you would tear the heavens and come down;
the mountains would quake before you,
as fire kindles brushwood,
the fire causes water to boil,
to make your name known to your adversaries,
that the nations might tremble from your presence.
When you did terrible deeds which we did not expect, you came down;
the mountains quaked because of your presence.
And since ancient times they have not heard,
have not listened,
no eye has seen a God except you;
he acts for the one who waits for him…
Yet now Yahweh, you are our father;
we are the clay and you are our potter,
and we all are the work of your hand.
You must not be exceedingly angry, Yahweh,
and you must not remember iniquity forever!
Look! Behold, now! We all are your people!
Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful temple, where our ancestors praised you has been burned by fire,
and all our precious objects have become ruins.
What is the relationship between the Lord (Yahweh) and the people?
Response: The people claim the Lord (Yahweh) as father (v. 8). The image of clay (the people) and a potter (Yahweh) is used to reinforce this.
Why would Yahweh be angry?
Response: Because the land is in shambles (vv. 10–11). The holy cities are empty. Jerusalem is desolate. And the temple, the very house of the Lord, has been destroyed.
How does this relate to joy during the Advent season?
Response: The people expect the Lord to return and bring salvation to the land. They call upon him to rebuild the temple, to annihilate their enemies, and to exalt his people to their proper place. Though the situation is dire, they rejoice at the thought of his return, which will restore the world to how it should be. We should exhibit the same joy at the thought of his second coming.
For more Bible study resources, browse the Logos Christmas sale.
This post is the first in a series adapted from Anticipating His Arrival, a family Advent devotional by Rick Brannan. We will be posting one devotional a day through Christmas.
As Christ’s arrival draws closer, a natural consequence is joy. When the thing we have been waiting for gets closer and closer, joy increases. [Read more…]
This post is by John Barry. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
I say, “Help comes from God.” I tell people, “You’re not alone.”
Both are empty phrases if I don’t live like I believe them. The book of Numbers shows us that as the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, they, too, struggled to live out these words. After 40 years of wandering, they were likely wondering if God had fallen asleep on the job.
This post is by Aubry Smith. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
After worship one Sunday, I overheard a teenager recounting the latest scandal at her school. Another student reprimanded her, “Don’t gossip, you’re in church!” He certainly ended the conversation, but his words revealed an underlying view by which many Christians compartmentalize life—church is “holy,” everywhere else is “unholy.”
You do not have to read as far in the Old Testament to find Levitical rules about holiness and sacred space. The book is replete with them. God demands holiness from Israel, repeatedly commanding them to “be holy because I am holy” (Lev 11:44, 45; 19:2; 20:7, 26). But how do cleansing rituals for birthing practices and skin sores relate to holiness?
This post is by Aubry Smith. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
At times in my life, I see evidence of God’s presence beyond any doubt. Passages of Scripture light up with meaning, and prayer flows easily. Worship brings me joy as I reflect on how palpably God keeps his hand over my circumstances. Walking with God seems tangible during these times, as if he is physically beside me, and my love overflows in easy obedience. But then there are times that it seems God has gone on vacation. The same passages of the Bible seem devoid of life; I trudge through prayer and push myself to worship. Why does God sometimes feel so distant?
This post is by Jeannie Seery. It has been excerpted from Moment with God: A Devotional on Every Biblical Book.
Perhaps it’s because of the immense joy and pain I’ve experienced being a parent that I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about how the actions of Adam and Eve, our first parents, influence our daily lives.
As I’ve read it and heard it preached, the curse itself seems to be pretty straightforward: Women will toil in childbirth while men toil in work. I find myself wondering, though, how is this ancient curse evidenced in our modern existence, as we seek to work out our salvation with fear and trembling?
1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most publicized passages in Scripture. If you’ve been to a wedding this year, chances are you’ve heard it recited recently. 1 Corinthians 13:1–13 is a powerful depiction of the significance of love, and the qualities love possesses.
Now, you can experience this passage in a whole new way. Encourage your friends with this visual representation of biblical love:
Warm videos, uplifting music, and beautiful art are great tools to help us process and reflect on Scripture. If you want to go even deeper, search a passage in the Faithlife Study Bible, and you’ll find three layers of notes to help you get more from each verse.
Let’s see what the FSB has to offer us about 1 Corinthians 13:1–8.
Without any context, we know that a clanging cymbal is just noise by itself—it’s only a piece of the song. The video and the passage itself allows us to take a moment to reflect on phrases like this, but when you add the FSB, you add a whole new dimension to your study. In this case, you learn that “People used cymbals to worship Dionysus, the god of wine. Paul mentions the “clashing cymbal” to suggest that spiritual gifts without love make the Corinthians’ worship no different from the pagans’.”
The FSB also helps us see the connections between each passage. When Paul says, “If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing” in 1 Corinthians 13:3, the FSB reminds us that this verse echoes Jesus’ command to the rich young man in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 18:22. In Acts 2:45, we see early Christians selling their property to meet the physical needs of those around them. Paul often vocalized the importance of helping the poor (Galatians 2:10).
These things were important to Paul, but without love (which the FSB defines here as “a genuine and selfless concern for the well-being of others”) these pursuits are meaningless.
The Faithlife Study Bible has over a dozen more separate notes just on these eight verses. For more food for thought as you study Scripture, download the FSB for free, and start taking your Bible study deeper today.
What passage would you like to see a video of next? Tell us in the comments!
Today’s interview is with Mark Prim, the Southeast Michigan Coalition for Men’s Discipleship area director for Man in the Mirror ministries. Prim helps pastors and leaders establish an intentional strategy to reach and disciple men.
How does your family use Faithlife together?
My two older sons started reading the Bible when they were six and seven. They began by reading small portions of the New Testament at a time. Three years later, they’ve read through the New Testament twice and Psalms once.
About two years ago, they both bought Kindles with money they saved from Christmas. The first app I installed was Faithlife. I created a family reading plan so we could all read the Bible at the same pace, and so my wife and I could help answer questions the boys have. With the reading plan, we can be sure we’re familiar with the passages they read so we’re ready to talk about them.
We have recently begun using Faithlife for family devotions, reading the book Experiencing God at Home Day by Day. The boys read a portion of their Bible using Faithlife, then we read the devotional, and they finish with some quiet time of reading and praying.
Why do Faithlife groups work so well for Bible studies and small groups? What features does your group use together?
Faithlife works well for small groups and Bible studies because all members are able to read the same passages and follow along the same reading plan. Not only this, but when members have questions while reading, they can post the question to the group or specifically to the leader, without waiting until the next meeting. The ability to load documents for the group to read is also a great tool when there are additional resources or information for further study. The reading plan and documents tab are the two tools we use the most.
Using Faithlife for a small group can be a little tricky at first. Since not everyone has a smartphone or tablet, it can become a divider when we try to use it as our main tool. The second challenge is that we must use the first session or two just to familiarize everyone with the functionality and power of this free study tool. Not everyone learns at the same pace, so this can become a point of stress, and it takes a little more work when someone new joins our group. However, we can overcome both of these challenges. In my experience, it’s worth it to use Faithlife for small group studies.
When individuals take the time to learn and use Faithlife, studying the Bible together truly becomes a community effort. When people have questions, thoughts, or concerns, there’s no need to wait until the next weekly or monthly meeting. If the people in your small group want to study God’s Word, and they are open to doing it from a digital source, Faithlife is a free resource that’s worth using.
What’s your favorite feature in Faithlife?
I like Faithlife as a whole. It’s a great tool for the kingdom of God! That being said, I think my favorite feature is the reading plan because it reaches across all platforms. If all the features were available across all platforms, I think Faithlife would be more widely accepted and used by churches and small groups.
Many parents are afraid to let their kids create social-media accounts. What makes Faithlife different, and why do you let your sons use it?
Faithlife doesn’t have all the foul language and advertisements. It also doesn’t have the “freedom” that other social media outlets have—the parameters of use are much more controllable. I set up and maintain my kids’ accounts.
One reason I let my sons use Faithlife is because they can study the Bible together. And we are a closed group, so no one else can join unless my wife and I approve them. Another reason is because it makes a great tool for discipleship. I can create specific reading plans based on subjects we need to discuss, and then they read not just for devotional time, but also to gain knowledge and understanding. As they get older, I will teach them more and more about how to use Faithlife.
What does Faithlife do for you that other communication tools don’t?
Faithlife provides a way for us to interact with God’s Word together. Other communication tools allow you to post different verses back and forth, but with Faithlife we can highlight verses and make community notes that our whole family can see.
Why do you think churches should use Faithlife together?
Like I said before, it makes a great tool for discipleship. With our fast-paced world and our ever-increasing reliance on technology and all things digital, this is a perfect tool to study God’s Word together. If used the right way, Faithlife can also help someone quickly catch up if they miss a small group session.
To learn more about Prim’s ministry, you can head to ManintheMirror.org.
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