Chara / Joy
Advent Series
Biblical joy is more than a happy feeling. It's a lasting emotion that comes from the choice to trust that God will fulfill his promises.

Questions for Personal Reflection or Group Discussion:

  1. The Israelites choose a path apart from God. As a result, they get exiled from their land and dominated by foreign nations. But the prophet Isaiah knew that sorrow would not have the final word with these people. He looked forward to the day when Yahweh would end pain and corruption to lead them into endless, joyful living. Read Isaiah 49:13 and Isaiah 51:11. What does Isaiah tell us about God’s character in these passages? What does Isaiah say will happen to God’s people?
  2. The prophet Isaiah looked forward to the coming of Israel’s redeemer. His prophecies were fulfilled with the arrival of Jesus. Read Luke 2:9-11. Why were the shepherds afraid? What reasons did the angels give for them to rejoice instead?
  3. Joy can persist in the harshest of circumstances because it depends on God and his promises. Read Matthew 5:11-12, Acts 13:50-52, and Hebrews 12:1-3. According to these passages, what specific truths about God can sustain joy even through painful or dire situations?
  4. When we see how Jesus’ loving way of life has overcome death itself, joy starts to become strangely reasonable. But this doesn’t mean it is wise to ignore or suppress sorrow. Read 2 Corinthians 6:3-10. How did Paul integrate both joy and sorrow?
  5. Take time to discuss any other themes, questions, or key takeaways from what you learned together.
A Time of Hopeful Anticipation

For centuries, Christians around the world have used the four weeks leading up to Christmas to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. It’s a time when we observe his first coming while also looking forward to his second coming. In the four weeks of Advent, we meditate on hope, peace, joy, and love.

The Prince of Peace Arrives

The Hebrew Bible ends with God’s people still waiting expectantly for the ultimate king—the anointed one who would bring peace to the world. In the book of Isaiah, we read this prophecy about the long-awaited Messiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

When Jesus was born, angels announced his arrival on Earth by declaring, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord."

And Still We Wait

Jesus’ arrival activated the promises of God and the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible. The Gospel accounts declare Jesus to be God in human form, his son who came to earth to reconcile God’s people back to their covenant partnership with God. During Advent, we join in a centuries-long tradition and we wait. Just like God’s people eagerly awaited the arrival of the Messiah, we remember their hope and we still look forward to Jesus’ final return when he will reunite Heaven and Earth in the new creation. He is the ultimate King, who embodies God’s peace, joy, hope, and love and came to earth so that we might be united with God again.

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