Grow Deep - The Excellent Encounter Edition Week 5

Week 5: December 29 – January 4

Escape with Jesus

Memory Verse: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness. I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.” Isaiah 42:6

Are you familiar with the commercial that shows a couple sitting in a hospital room? They are obviously waiting for a procedure for the husband. They ask the nurse if she knows a certain doctor. Her answer is not very satisfying to them. She says that the doctor is “OK.” They are not happy with that answer because they are not sure whether to trust this doctor or not. And, they are putting the husband’s health and test results in the doctor’s hands. Medical concerns are beyond our control. We become worried. We need a doctor we can trust. I suspect that we all feel more comfortable when we control what is going on around us. Anticipation and worry grow whenever circumstances seem out of our control.

There are times that I can fall into worry about the actions of my co-workers because they may not do what I think is correct to solve a problem. This feeling leads to micro-managing on my part. A parent worries about a child as he or she chooses a life course that may be different from what the parent sees as a solid future. So, the parent becomes anxious about the college preparation that the child chooses or the social decisions that the child is making.

We become worried or anxious about things we cannot control. But is this true about our spiritual welfare as well? Yes, it can be true. Even though we know and trust in God’s promises as His children, our faith can be impacted by questions and concerns about the future.

This week our Scripture verses spotlight God’s plan of salvation. As Christmas Day is behind us and the new year looms before us, Scripture helps us to focus on our trust in God’s plan. This week take time to “Escape” with Jesus; learn to trust Him more.

Sunday, December 29
Read: Matthew 2:19-23
God continually works out all the pieces of His plan of salvation for His people, including the divinely directed escape of Jesus from death as an infant at the hands of Herod.
Reflect: Why do you think Matthew includes this episode in the Gospel? What is Matthew saying about God and His plan of salvation? Can you think of other details in the Christmas and post-Christmas episodes that show the quality of God’s promises? How do they speak to your faith?

Monday, December 30

Read: Micah 5:2-5
These are the words and promises of God written 700 years before the birth of Christ. It was a time when the children of Israel must have felt out of control as the Assyrians were threatening them.
Reflect: What is the importance of Micah’s precisely identifying by name Jesus’ place of birth? Why do you think Micah refers to the coming Messiah as “the Man of Peace?” How would the coming of the Messiah bring peace to the Israelites in Micah’s time? How does it bring peace to you?

Tuesday, December 31

Read: Isaiah 42:5-7
God’s promises were not exclusively for Israel. Rather, God meant Israel to be the beacon of hope to everyone.
Reflect: What is God’s promise to the world through Israel? What does Isaiah mean when he says God will “open eyes that are blind, free captives from prison and release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness?” From what are we freed today through God’s promises?

Wednesday, January 1
Blessed New Year!
Read: Luke 2:22-32
Jesus was brought to the temple by Mary and Joseph according to the Rabbinical law of the time. Simeon praises God as he recognizes the baby Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise.
Reflect: How did Simeon react when the Holy Spirit led him to recognize Jesus as his Savior? Do you think that Simeon’s faith was impacted by doubts? How do you think Simeon felt about facing his future? Do we react in the same way? What doubts do we have about facing our futures in faith?

Thursday, January 2

Read: Matthew 2:1-12
The Magi come and recognize Jesus as the Messiah even though Herod tries to intervene.
Reflect: Does this Biblical account tell you anything about how the world attempts to thwart God’s plan for you? What happens in your life that can threaten to thwart your faith in God’s promise? How does God work in your lives to keep His promise to you?

Friday, January 3

Read: Matthew 2:13-18
Evil once again rears its head as Herod attempts to stop God’s plan by killing the young children in his kingdom. God warns Mary and Joseph, and they take the baby and escape to Egypt.
Reflect: Notice how Mary and Joseph followed God’s commands. How does the world work to stop God’s promise of salvation and continued love for you? What does God do to keep His promise for us? How has God provided an “escape” for you this Christmas?

Saturday, January 4

Read: Matthew 2:19-23
The story of the birth of Jesus ends with God’s act of protection for Jesus. So, Joseph is directed to go to Nazareth. God’s promise is fulfilled.
Reflect: God comes to Joseph in a dream. We know that He also
directs us in our faith. How does He communicate with us? How do we know God’s promises will be fulfilled?