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2017 Journal

Week Fifteen -- December 11-17

 

Scripture Memory:

COLOSSIANS 1:26-27

26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

 

Overview - Shepherds

Mary and Joseph just happened to be nearby a field in which some shepherds are tending their flocks. It may very well be, as some have suggested, that these flocks were the animals which were raised to be sacrificed in Jerusalem. Although the Bible usually portrays shepherds in a positive way, society often looked down on them. 

Shepherds could not keep ceremonial laws, they often moved, and people didn’t trust them. Like most other people, the shepherds were afraid when they saw the angel and the glory of the Lord. But the angel told them: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.” (v. 10). The angel’s proclamation meant that all people, all the nations, not just Israel, would benefit from His birth.

Suddenly, the angel was joined by a host, an army of angels, singing a song of peace, delivering divine confirmation of the angel’s announcement. This week imagine you were one of the shepherds visited by the angel. How would you have responded? When the glory of the Lord is revealed our lives are radically changed.

Day One

Read Luke 2:1-20

1. What do you learn about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? How is He described?

2. What do you learn about man? How do people act or respond in the passage?

3. In a sentence or two summarize what you have learned from this passage.

4. Where are you in the story? How does this story impact or challenge you? What is God asking you to do in obedience to His Word?

5. Write a prayer to God based on what He has taught you.

Day Two

Read Luke 2:1-20

1. How did the shepherds respond during and after the announcement by the angel?

2. How do you think you would have responded if you were one of the shepherds?

3. Just like the shepherds, when we encounter God we are overcome with joy and praise. When is the last time you experienced God in a way that brought about spontaneous praise and worship?

Day Three

Read  Psalm 23

This psalm is actually one of the shortest, only six verses, but it’s probably the most famous. Why? Because it talks about the presence of God in a quiet, personal way. The subject of the poem is a shepherd, which in the Bible’s day was a lonely and dangerous profession.

Day Four

Read Ezekiel 34:1-24

God tells Ezekiel to prophesy against the wicked shepherds who’ve been misleading Israel. God says he will remove them; He’s taking over as the new shepherd. He’ll take care of the weak and injured, and will lead them to a place of rest.

Day Five

Read John 10:1-21

In chapter 10 Jesus contrasts Himself with all those who pretended to be shepherds of Israel. He shows that He comes in by the door; He is the door, and He is the Shepherd of the sheep - the good Shepherd.

Weekly Reflection

Reflect on this week's study:

  1. What is one passage or principle that stood out to you? Why?
  2. How did your time in the word this week challenge you?
  3. What is one step of obedience you want to carry with you from this point forward?

 

NEIGHBORS & NATIONS

HUDSON TAYLOR

“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on God being with them.”

One of the most beloved and well-remembered missionaries of all time is James Hudson Taylor. Creator of the China Inland Mission, his emphasis on prayer, commitment to China, and deep faith that God would provide for all needs was revolutionary to the world of mission. Hudson was born in 1832 in Yorkshire, England to a Methodist minister. He had a sickly childhood and became a Christian in his late teenage years. After his conversion he soon developed a deep passion for the people and needs of the 400 million in China, making it his goal to “to evangelize all China, to preach Christ to all its peoples by any and all means that come to hand.” Future missionaries like CT Studd and Amy Carmichael would write about hearing Hudson Taylor speak and the course their life would later take. According to Charles Spurgeon a strange phenomena was beginning to sweep across England in the 1800s. 

“China, China, China is now ringing in our ears in that forcible, unique way in which Mr. Taylor utters it,” Spurgeon said. Hudson Taylor died in 1905, leaving behind a vision to make the gospel available to all of China.

*Excerpt from The Traveling Team


Week Sixteen -- December 18 - 24

 

Scripture Memory:

COLOSSIANS 1:28-29

28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

 

Overview - Simeon & Anna

Simeon was a man under the influence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit rests upon Simeon, the Holy Spirit gave the promise of revelation to him, and it is the Holy Spirit who brings Simeon to the temple at the right time. This continues an emphasis on the role of the Holy Spirit that began in Luke 1. Simeon is part of this unfolding work and direction of the Holy Spirit, a work that will be a significant part of both Luke and Acts. When Simeon lifts up Jesus, he makes an amazing declaration about this six-week-old baby.

Anna confirms the salvation message of Simeon by giving thanks to God and speaking about this child to all those who were looking for “the redemption of Jerusalem.” Early on, Jesus is seen as the one who will purchase redemption for His enslaved people and for the holy city of Jerusalem. For hundreds of years prophets have been proclaiming the coming Messiah. This week’s readings will focus on Old Testament passages that point to Jesus as our Messiah.

Day One

Read Luke 2:21-38

1. What do you learn about God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit)? How is He described?

2. What do you learn about man? How do people act or respond in the passage?

3. In a sentence or two summarize what you have learned from this passage.

4. Where are you in the story? How does this story impact or challenge you? What is God asking you to do in obedience to His Word?

5. Write a prayer to God based on what He has taught you.

Day Two

Read Luke 2:21-38

1. How was Simeon described? Who do you know that could be described in this way?

2. Look at Simeon’s words in verses 28-32. What are some of the significant aspects of Simeon’s blessing that stand out to you?

3. How was Anna described? Who do you know that could be described with this godly character?

Day Three

Read  Psalm 2

Psalm 2 is the most frequently quoted Psalm in the New Testament and is the first Messianic Psalm in the book of Psalms, meaning that it contains a prophecy about the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Everything is under God’s control, and He will ultimately triumph.

Day Four

Read Psalm 110

This is a short Psalm that is immensely significant regarding the exaltation of Christ. Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, He is victorious, He is powerful, and He continues to fight for us to the very end. 

Day Five

Read Isaiah 42:1-9

In Isaiah 42 we are introduced to the first of several passages that describe the coming one who Isaiah calls “the Servant.” The chosen servant is empowered with God’s spirit to bring forth justice throughout the earth. 

Weekly Reflection

Reflect on this week's study:

  1. What is one passage or principle that stood out to you? Why?
  2. How did your time in the word this week challenge you?
  3. What is one step of obedience you want to carry with you from this point forward?

 

NEIGHBORS & NATIONS

GLADYS AYLWARD

“I wasn’t God’s first choice for what I’ve done in China. There was somebody else. I don’t know who it was — God’s first choice. It must have been a man — a wonderful man, a well-educated man. I don’t know what happened. Perhaps he died. Perhaps he wasn’t willing. And God looked down and saw Gladys Aylward, and God said…Well, she’s willing.”

Gladys Aylward was born short in size and short in worldly status but what was lacking in height and social standing she made up for in determination and spirit. At an early age, Gladys began attending Young Life services and reading about the far-away land of China from books. This birthed an unstoppable desire to go to China herself. Gladys applied with different mission organizations as a candidate for China. After reviewing her advanced age and test results it was determined that she was too old and unfit to learn the difficult Chinese language. Gladys decided if she couldn’t go with organizations, she would go on her own. Every month, Gladys would save all the money she could from the small paycheck she received to buy a one-way train ticket to China. Gladys finally made it to China where she would become one of the greatest missionaries to ever work within the country. Her work with planting churches, rescuing orphans, and championing human rights was unparalleled. She was so astute at learning the language that the Chinese government eventually hired her as a spy during the war with Japan. All this from the small lady that was “too dumb and too old for the harsh realities of a life in China.”

*Excerpt from The Traveling Team