Rev. Trevor Johnston
Sermon series: The Thrill of Hope
Week 4: Divine Diversion
PDF file for printing 12-30-17.
- Share what you enjoyed most during this past Christmas week.
2. Webster’s dictionary’s definition of “hope” is: desire accompanied by expectation of or belief in fulfillment, e.g. I came in hopes of seeing you; also: expectation of fulfillment or success.
What is missing from that definition compared to how we define our “Christian hope”?
3. Read Matthew 2:1-12: After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: 6 “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’” 7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” 9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
What questions or ideas come to your mind as you read this passage?
4. This story of the wise men traveling to find Jesus is celebrated as “Epiphany” in many churches throughout the world. This event represents the first time that non-Jewish people began to worship Jesus, which is especially significant for those of us who are not Jewish to know that He can be our Messiah too. Note that God includes this event in the story of His Son coming to earth, even though the wise men were astrologers, a practice that is actually forbidden for people who love God. What does all of this communicate to you about God?
Four Observations the Wisemen’s Story Offers to Us This Season
- They Were on a Search
5. Parents will often go to great lengths to search for a special toy that they want to give their child for Christmas. What was your favorite Christmas gift that you ever received in your childhood?
6. Trevor was excited to get a green Power Ranger as a child, because no one in the area he lived in had never even seen one before. Knowing that his parents had gone to a lot of trouble to search for this toy also became a reminder to Trevor of how much his parents loved him. Think of a time when someone went to a lot of trouble to search for just the right gift for you and share about that.
7. Read Proverbs 14:12: There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Sometimes people search for the wrong things in life and it leads them down a path that isn’t good for them. Share about a time when you did that.
- Their Search Ended in a Savior
8. Read Luke 19:10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.
Read John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Read Psalm 119:176: I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
What do these Scriptures communicate to you about God?
- When They Found Him, They Brought Their Gifts
10. Read Matthew 2:11 again. What is significant about the gifts that the wise men brought to Jesus?
- When They Left, They Took a New Route
11. The Christian life is a continual call to go a different route than the path that most of the culture around us is on. Describe some ways that you have changed your life’s path as a result of knowing Jesus.
12. Take some time to reflect whether there might be some other ways God would like you to take a different route in your life? Share what God is telling you.
13. Life change doesn’t happen unless we make concrete plans to help us start on that new route. Plan some steps that will help you move in the new direction God is leading you, and talk about them with your group. Pray for each other and come up with ways to help and encourage each other.