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{December 17, 2017}

 

December 17 – 23, 2017

 

How He Loves: Affection

By Meghan Hemenway

This Christmas will be the second one without my dad, Dan. It is a time of year that reminds me of him, but also a natural time to gather with our loved ones so the empty place he left feels bigger and more present. Last Christmas we tried to skip the sadness by going to the happiest place on Earth – Disneyland. It was magical for my young sons, but my dad was everywhere. We saw signs of him throughout the park. When I say signs, I mean reminders, but also literal signs – in the Frontierland shooting gallery we saw a tombstone with the inscription "Nancy’s Dan: a truly devoted man." My mom’s name is Nancy. A little on the nose, no? It hurt. Like I’d been shot with one of those toy rifles. I felt like my sadness was unmasked to all these happy people in this ultimate place of happiness. We had all been pretending to blend in, wearing our masks of happiness along with the joyful masses and suddenly we were exposed.

The story we heard today from Mark 1:40-42 is about the leper who couldn’t hide his wound and so he just asked for Jesus to heal him. With deep compassion Jesus reached out and touched this wounded man, changing him forever with his love.

My wound is my grief and my longing for my father. I miss my dad’s love and care for me. My vulnerable place where Jesus can reach out to me in love is literally the longing I have to feel a father’s affection. I know, again, a little on the nose. But, however obvious or obscured, our vulnerabilities make us tender. They open us up, soften us, and allow us to accept our Father’s love for us. 
 

{sunday 12.17.17}

Read 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Can you name your weakness and the mask you are using to try to cover it? God’s love is for you and his power is made strong in your weakness. Are you able to ask God to show you his strength and are you willing to let your weakness be exposed? 

 

{personal reflection and bible reading plan}

As you read the verses each day, make notes of questions you have about what you’re reading as well as answering the reflection questions below. Grab a friend or two to discuss what you are learning and what God is doing in your lives.

CLICK HERE or on image above to check out The Bible Project video on Revelation 12-22.

{monday 12.18.17}

Read Revelation 16:1-11

Observe, Reflect, Apply: I would love it if scripture did not contain God’s wrath. It would make this so much easier. I’d also love a fair and just world where people did not do evil things. It would make life so much easier. Unfortunately that’s not how it works in our world. God allows us to make our choices and he will eventually intervene. Imagine young children fighting with each other. You let it go a bit to see if they can work it out. You are hoping they can grow from this experience and learn to get along and solve conflict on their own. If they can’t resolve it on their own, at some point you have to step in so it doesn’t go too far. I’m not sure when or how God steps in, but he will. How do you feel when you read about God’s wrath in Revelation? What analogy would you use to explain God’s wrath?

{tuesday 12.19.17}

Read Revelation 16:12-21

Observe, Reflect, Apply: In case it needs repeating, Revelation is a book from John’s vision and it includes things from the past, present and future and should be read with imagination and not in a literal sense. John warns his readers to stay awake. He means this in a spiritual sense. We should be learning and practicing our faith. It’s easy to become complacent. When we become complacent it’s easy to be deceived. We are fastly approaching the end of 2017. Think and pray about what you will do for 2018 to stay awake spiritually. Share your plans with someone you trust.

{wednesday 12.20.17}

Read Revelation 17:1-8

Observe, Reflect, Apply: The whore of Babylon is about deception. Being lured away by the glitzy and shiny things. NT Wright describes it best with, "The world of vice is like a lobster pot: easy to get in, very difficult to get out, and all you can do is wait for death." What are the "glitzy and shiny" things that distract you? It doesn’t have to be possessions. It can be popularity, prestige, respect, security etc. How can you seek God’s help and wisdom to no longer be distracted?

{thursday 12.21.17}

Read Revelation 17:9-18

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Whenever, I watch movies like Star Wars I end up getting lost trying to figure out all the different characters, where they are from and what that means. There is so much complexity that I can’t keep up. I end up focusing my attention on the bigger themes that are being presented in the story. That’s true for me and the book of Revelation. The overall theme here is about the brutal and seductive civilizations and national empires that have the appearance of luxury but deliver slavery. These civilizations and nations have rose time and time again and they get their power from what John describes as the "monster". It’s such a popular theme that it shows up in our movies, like Star Wars. Where have you seen this idea of seductive civilalization that appears to have luxury but delivers slavery in a story or in real life?

{friday 12.22.17}

Read Revelation 18:1-10

Observe, Reflect, Apply: Patriotism and faith sometimes accompany each other. However, patriotism gone unchecked can turn to idolatry. Where have you seen this happen? What happens to faith when patriotism turns to idolatry?

{saturday 12.23.17}

Read Revelation 18:11-24

Observe, Reflect, Apply: This metaphor of Babylon being thrown into the sea to never be seen again implies that the world as we know it will end and a new world (heaven) will reign. This means that the world we live in and the world that our predecessors lived in where greed and corruption rule won’t be in the new world. What are the things in your life that you would like to throw away, never to be seen again?

 

{community discussion questions}

We weren’t meant to experience the life of Jesus alone, so we encourage you to rally a few others to discuss what you are hearing, reading, and reflecting on together. Whether you are meeting as a Journey Community group, talking with a few friends throughout the week, or bringing up spiritual conversations around your table at home, feel free to use some of these questions as conversation starters on your journey.

  • Can you name a takeaway or challenge from the Sunday message?
  • How has that been relevant, challenging, or meaningful to your life this week?
  • What have you observed about God, Jesus, yourself, others, or God’s plan for you from these readings?
  • Where do you need a breakthrough from God this week?
  • Who do you need to share what you’re learning about God with?

 

{extra journey resources}

CLICK HERE for more on how to use the observe-reflect-apply approach to getting the most out of your Bible reading.

The Bible App Get a free Bible for your phone, tablet, and computer. Experience the Bible anywhere, with options to highlight, save notes, and share what you are reading with others.

Bible Gateway Provides advanced Bible searching capabilities, which allow readers to find passages in scripture based on keywords, phrases, or scripture reference.

 

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