Dr. E. Dale Locke
Sermon Series: Stable Talk
Sermon 1: From Darkness to Light
- Share with the group about how ready you feel for the Christmas season to be here.
- Read Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable– if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things.
Look back over this past year and consider how your thinking and your talk has been. Have you been thinking and talking about what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? Be honest about how you’ve been doing in this area over the calendar year 2016.
- How does the content of our thinking and talking impact us?
- Read Isaiah 9:1-2
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned….
Read Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
- The Prophet Isaiah spoke and wrote as God inspired him. Here are two things an Old Testament prophet did:
- Prophet = One who forth-tells
Prophets were commanded by God to say hard things that God’s people needed to hear when they were doing the wrong thing. Prophets called people back to the center God where wanted them to live.
Who in your life have you invited to be a “forth-teller” – telling you what you need to hear when you get off track in some way? Tell about a time you received a hard message from someone and welcomed it?
- Prophet = One who fore-tells
Sometimes, prophets also told about future events. This was the case in Isaiah 9.
- Read Matthew 4:12-17
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. 13 Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali– 14 to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles–16 the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” 17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
What connections do you notice between what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 9 and what Matthew wrote here? What is the significance of these connections?
- Isaiah prophesied that….
- The world is dark.
Darkness in Scripture refers to ignorance and/or to evil. Talk about the darkness that you notice in today’s world.
- Isaiah 8:19-22 describes the darkness people were experiencing in that day. Read that passage below and reflect on what it communicates to you about the darkness in Isaiah’s time. What were some of the problems in that day? How did their darkness compare with that in our world today?
When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20 Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 21 Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. 22 Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.
- A light has dawned.
- Christmas is a time to celebrate that God’s light will overcome the darkness in our world. Pastor Dale encouraged us to celebrate Christmas and light up our homes with decorations, rather than thinking Christians have to avoid celebrating. Talk about ways you plan to celebrate Christmas this year.
Isaiah’s message helps us realize that…
- Jesus is coming as the Light.
- We will only find our way if Jesus becomes our Light.
- Read John 1:9-10 that describes Jesus as the light:
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
Read John 8:12
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
What do these passages tell us about what Jesus came to do? How does Jesus light the world?
- C.S. Lewis said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen, not because I see it, but because by it I can see everything else.”
Describe how Christianity has changed the way you see the world.
12. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:6: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
Meditate on this verse, and share with the group what it means to you personally.