The Core Sunday Gathering
November 27, 2011
-Today is the first Sunday of Advent. The beginning of the Christmas season
-Thanksgiving is behind us
-Is the giving of Thanks also behind us?
-Can we carry it forward, and let it change the way we live out the Christmas spirit?
-Question: What is a Thanksgiving tradition in your family that you are really fond of?
-There’s a lot of pressure in the holiday season to find happiness
-For Thanksgiving you want to gather with people who know you well and like you anyway
-For Christmas you want to create mystery and wonder and give good gifts and get a few
-For New Years you want to do something exciting and memorable with your friends
-This is all in an effort to find happiness… and for some reason it’s more important to us in Nov and Dec
-How does our culture define happiness?
-In what ways does the market try to sell us happiness?
-It’s not always a product, is it? Sometimes it’s an experience, or a condition
-Insurance companies selling peace of mind, or an appliance saving time or money to spend with your family
-But they don’t leave out the part where your happiness depends on giving them money.
-Is actual happiness good for business, or just perceived happiness?
-Can you name an instance where you've been sold real happiness? What happened?
-Have you ever fallen for an empty promise of happiness?
-Who is easier to cheer up, a little kid, or an adult?
-Somehow happiness is more within-reach for little kids, despite having shorter arms.
-Why is that?
Assign Scripture: Matthew 18:3 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
-Is this because heaven is like a kids’ menu at a restaurant. 12 and under only?
-Have you ever tried to order off the kids’ menu, as an adult? Why is that age limit there?
-I don't even think it's that God only takes childlike people.
-I think it's because only people who regain that childlike sense of thankfulness and wonder
-will really surrender their lives to Jesus.
-Kids do have to be trained to say Please and Thank You, but it seems like we train the thankfulness out of them
-And Christmas is one of the tools we use to do it.
-Instead we should be teaching them how to be thankful, with tools like Psalm 50.
-Assign Scripture: Psalm 50:14-15 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me." But to the wicked, God says: "What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you.
-Question: What are the two types of people pictured here? How do their offerings differ?
-God is challenging us to ask whether he really needs the gifts and sacrifices we offer him
-Or if they are simply a token of our inward appreciation… of a thankful heart. The token itself is worthless
-The thankful person knows this. The ingrate believes it’s all about the token.
-Micah shows us the difference between the two hearts in 6:7-8
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
-What God really requires of us is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him.
-Assign Scripture: Psalm 50:23 He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."
-Question: How does thankfulness prepare the way to see God's salvation?
-The road to hell may be paved with good intentions
-but the road to Salvation is paved with Thanksgiving...
those who are thankful for God's promise are the ones who actually help bring it about
-Question: What does this mean for the Christmas season?
-How will a truly thankful person approach Christmas differently?