“Something in the Water” – Matthew 3:13-17
Our bondage to sin is far worse that the bondage in Egypt.
Our baptism is not so much a ritual as it is a re-enactment of the Red Sea experience.
Life as it should be
The cleansing power of baptism does wonders for hearts and souls.
Assurance of our acceptance and identity free us to truly live.
Baptism is an “uh oh” event
Our baptism is loaded with responsibility and calls for a life-time commitment.
Never underestimate the power of repentance and baptism.
1. What do you know about your baptism? What does this tell you about how important it was to your family? To you?
2. How much of what Jesus heard at His baptism applies to you? How has this impacted your life?
3. Who has been a “John the Baptist” to you? With what effect?
4. During difficult time s in his life, Martin Luther would remind himself that he had been baptized. Why was this important?
5. The Great Commission ties baptism to teaching all that Jesus commanded. Why is this important? What happens when the full teaching is neglected?
6. How have you experienced God’s power through your baptism?
7. Whose baptism are you praying for on a regular basis?
“Seeing the Big Picture” – Matthew 2:13-23 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
The exile of baby Jesus reminds us of the dual threats of evil and ego.
Trust and obedience are once again highlighted by the holy family’s behavior.
An Awesome God
This story clearly reveals both the awesome power of God and God’s personal compassion.
God’s nature and will are not found by looking at our personal discomfort but are revealed in God’s faithfulness.
Getting on with life
The wisest and safest way live is under the shelter of God’s purposes.
As you face the problems of the New Year, make sure you also focus on God’s promises.
1. Where do you see similarities between your life and these experiences of Mary and Joseph?
2. What are some of the reasons why Mary and Joseph would have been tempted to doubt God rather than remain trusting and obedient? What can you learn from their experience?
3. How does this story change our perspective about thinking “bad things” shouldn’t happen to “good people?
4. When you look back at your life, when/how have you been the victim of evil/ego? How might the evil and ego been your own doing?
5. When/how can you now see that God was doing some amazing things during some of the most difficult times your past? How does the passage of time make that perspective easier to see?
6. How does this story help prepare you for the uncertainties of the coming year?
“Believe!” – Matthew 1:18-25 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
The problem with pride
Joseph’s first inclination would have been badly misguided.
Because of his humility, Joseph played a key role in our salvation story.
It takes a miracle/messenger
The radical transformation in Joseph is God’s goal for all of us.
God enables us to cross the border from the possible to the impossible.
Now it’s our turn
Joseph’s story reminds us that obedience is better than understanding.
Develop the attitude that problems are always loaded with possibilities.
1. How would you have felt if you had been in Joseph’s shoes as the Christmas story began to unfold?
2. How was Joseph’s “faith” challenge similar or different from Mary’s?
3. Why do you suppose some scholars think getting Mary and Joseph to “trust and obey” was bigger miracle than the virgin birth?
4. What comfort and encouragement can you gain from observing that Mary and Joseph left a powerful legacy by making great personal sacrifices in order to serve God?
5. Mary and Joseph both needed angels (messengers) to prepare them for what was being asked of them? How can you be more open to God’s messengers in your life? How can you be His messenger to others?
“Listen!” – Matthew 11:2-15 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
When faith leaks
Doubt can easily have a domino effect on the rest of our life.
In times of great stress we may find we look in the wrong places and listen to the wrong voices.
Re-energized by hope
Jesus preaching and teaching was a powerful mixture of criticism and encouragement.
Jesus shows us our faith is to be in the resurrection not in a revolution.
Now and not yet
Look and listen for a word from Jesus this Advent Season.
Be especially alert for the power of Jesus that gives you courage when things don’t change.
1. What are some of the reasons John the Baptist would have been so disillusioned?
2. What can you learn by comparing your life/circumstances to his?
3. What do you think of Jesus’ answer to John?
4. What do you think John was expecting from Jesus? How did his expectations contribute to his discouragement?
5. Look at how Jesus praised John, why should John find that comforting?
6. Look at how Jesus treated John in his dire predicament, what should that tell you about what you can expect in your struggles?
7. What advantages do you have over John in facing your doubts/fears?
“Prepare!” – Matthew 3:1-12 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
What the crowds know
John the Baptist spoke powerfully because he had a radical message and a radical method.
When we fail to plan we are planning to fail.
A much better way
God’s grace in Jesus motivates us to repent
Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of life.
1 John 1:8-9
Know your three R’s
Recognize – repentance is for failing people
Remorse – use the six hard words
Renewal – replace you old habits with better ones
2 Corinthians 5:17
1. How were the people in the crowds that came to listen to John the Baptist the same? Different?
2. Why is it so important (and hard) for religious people to repent?
3. What are some of the reasons it was so important for a messenger like John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry?
4. What are some of the similarities between the world of John the Baptist and our world?
5. What are some of the events/who are some of the people that helped prepare you for Jesus entry into your life?
6. What are some of the ways you can help others prepare to receive the Kingdom Jesus brings?
7. What are some of the things Victory has done in the past year to help “prepare the way of the Lord?”
Advent Series: “Get Ready!” – Matthew 24:36-44 – Pastor Neal Snider
-Anticipation is wonderful but it creates a problem.
-With all of those plans, where does that leave God?
-We are too impatient to wait for God to give us the future. That is unbelief.
-God’s coming is usually not pleasant because He disturbs our own plans.
-God’s coming is sudden and unexpected.
-When God comes He creates separation.
1. Is today the first day of the rest of your life or the last day of your life? Can you reconcile the two options? How?
2. Can you live with active anticipation and yet wait patiently for God to act? Reconcile the two.
3. What problems are raised by anticipation? What opportunities?
4. Have you ever met God when you did not expect the meeting? Explain.
5. Has God ever imposed the future on you? Explain.
6. Is failure to wait for God to act to bring the future an expression of unbelief? Explain.
“When the Good King Comes” – Matthew 25:1-13 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
There have always been people who live as though there is no day of reckoning and no accountability.
Some things cannot be done quickly and some things cannot be shared or bought.
Love not fear
We need to learn to live on Easter Words not Good Friday words.
The reality of God’s love and the certainty of death should make precious things worthless.
Life’s important decisions cannot be put off until the last moment.
The best way to be ready for tomorrow is to be ready today.
1. In what ways were these ten women alike? Different?
2. Why is readiness/preparedness so important in preparing for Christ’s return/our own death?
3. How is it that some people can see death as a “thief in the night” and others can see it as a “bride awaiting the bridegroom?”
4. What do you think Jesus meant by the “oil in the lamps?”
5. How do you think Noah felt building a shop on “dry ground?” What in your life compares to Noah doing this?
6. How do you think Noah felt once started to rain? How have you experienced that feeling?
7. What is the most important lesson you can learn the parable of the 10 virgins and Noah and the ark?
And God Said: “Trust Me” – Daniel 3:13-18 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
A slippery slope
Nobody trips over mountains, but we do trip over rocks.
All temptation starts with doubt and leads to disobedience.
Signs of His presence
You can rule out God’s inability and apathy with regard to your struggles.
Be alert for God’s fingerprints and footprints at all times.
Ready for life
Pack a resource kit for life’s predictable challenges.
Life begins when you believe that it’s better to die than worship idols.
1. What are the major lessons you learned from the story of these brave men?
2. What events in your life are comparable to this story?
3. Looking at your past, what are some of the ways God was present in your in your difficult times?
4 .What were the transformational results for the three men and even the king because of the events of this story?
5. What Biblical stories and life experiences assure you of God’s ability and God’s concern?
6. Why do you think this is one of the most popular stories of the Old Testament?
“Speak the Truth in Love” – Ephesians 4:14-16 – Pastor Larry Kassebaum
God wants us to grow
There’s nothing wrong with being baby for a while.
Spiritual growth and maturity are not automatic.
Every problem in life has a purpose. That purpose is to build our character.
God uses our possibilities/temptations to grow our obedience.
Read the Book
The Bible gives us doctrine – so we know what is right.
The Bible gives us reproof – so we know what is not right.
The Bible gives us correction – so we know how to get right.
The Bible gives us instruction – so we know how to stay right.
2 Timothy 3:16
1. Why is it often said that babies are the most selfish people in the world?
2. What are some of the behaviors that we want children to “grow out of” as they grow older?
3. How are spiritually immature people like babies?
4. What are some of the behaviors that Jesus wants us to “grow out of”?
5. Who were some of the people in your life who have “spoken truth” into your life?
6. If you could choose only one, is it more important to hear truth or lies told in love?
7. What signs would others point to in your life as marks that you are still becoming more spiritually mature?