BEFORE YOU GATHER
- Familiarize yourself with this Group Discussion Guide
- If you missed it, CLICK HERE to watch the weekend sermon
- Read Isaiah 6:1-13 & 9:1-7
- Get a feel for the Book of Isaiah as a whole by WATCHING THIS VIDEO
- Sit in prayerful silence with God for a while, and ask the Holy Spirit if there is
anything that he wants you to share during your group's time together.
ISAIAH DEVOTIONAL: WHEN GOD'S HOLINESS MEETS OUR IMPURITY
Every week, enhanced content will be provided for those who want to take things beyond their group's gathered time to be used for personal enrichment.
- WATCH: Animated Explanation of God's Holiness
- READ: In Chapter 6, Isaiah the prophet had a strange vision about being in the part of the temple where he didn't belong in the direct presence of God! He was terrified for his life because of his moral impurity ("unclean lips"). Instead of being destroyed, God has a burning, holy coal taken from his presence and applied to Isaiah's lips (ouch!) Instead of the temple becoming contaminated by Isaiah's impurity, the opposite happens: God's holiness transfers to Isaiah and burns away his sin and impurity. This is unexpected to say the least! The implications of this vision are huge. What if God doesn't need to be protected by the impurity of our sin, and instead, it's our sin that is endangered by God's holiness? Fast-forward to the ministry of Jesus. When he arrives on the scene, announcing the arrival of God's kingdom, Jesus moves towards people who were considered "unclean" and unfit to enter God's presence in the temple (see Matthew 8:1-4; 9:20-23; Luke 7:11-17). His contact with these people should have made him unclean, but instead, his holiness and purity transfers to them, healing and restoring their bodies. Jesus declared that people are not made impure by anything that touches or enters their bodies, but rather by the moral corruption and selfishness that comes out of their minds and hearts (Mark 7:14-23). Jesus claimed that he was the new temple, the place where God's holiness meets people in their sin and uncleanness: He offered forgiveness of sins apart from the temple, and he said that his death was the sacrifice that covered for the sin of others (Matthew 9:1-8; 26:26-29). Jesus is like that "holy coal" from Isaiah's vision. God doesn't need to be protected from our sin, but rather, our sin is endangered by God's holiness. In Jesus, when God's holiness touches our impurity, we are restored, and like Isaiah, we hear the words: See your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.The only proper response to this kind of grace is:Here I am! Send me!
Opening Prayer: (1-5 minutes)
In light of what God is saying through this week's message, here's some suggestions of how your group can invite God into your time together.
For the people who hear the word "holy" and think of how dangerous and unapproachable God is, ask God to help them see how he wants to bring his life and purity to them. For the people who hear the word "holy" and think of God's light and truth, ask God to help them see how he is beyond our power to manipulate and meet our demands.
Quick Connection: (5 minutes)
Have everyone take 30 seconds each to share a phrase or a moment from this weekend's message that is still resonating with them. You also have the option to say "Pass."
Large Group Discussion: (30 minutes)
This weekend's message came from Isaiah 6:1-13 & 9:1-7. If everyone has a Bible, let's go there together.
- Isaiah 3:8-9 describes the arrogant attitude of God's people: their words and deeds are against the Lord, defying his glorious presence. The look on their faces testifies against them; they parade their sin like Sodom; they do not hide it. Despite the arrogance and presumption of his people, God was immensely patient with them – he didn't bring judgment right away, in hopes that they would turn back to him. As you look over the course of your own life, how has God demonstrated immense patience with you?
- (From Isaiah 6:1-13) When Isaiah finds himself in God's presence, he is terrified, saying: I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty! Isaiah acknowledges his own sinfulness, and he also acknowledges that he is connected to his sinful nation. How does this fly in the face of our Western culture, where we tend to separate things into categories of "public" or "private"? Are we deceiving ourselves when we act as if what we do behind closed doors doesn't affect other people?
- After watching The Bible Project video about God's holiness, how did your definition of holiness expand beyond mere moral purity? Does our sin do something to God's holiness, or does God's holiness do something to our sin?
- In Isaiah 1:18, God says: Come, let us reason together: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. How do you need God to convince you that he is more than able to make you clean?
- (From Isaiah 6) Isaiah's response to God's purifying forgiveness is: Here I am! Send me! You and I are purified for a purpose and a mission. When God makes us holy, it's not so that we can act Holier-Than-Thou. If someone has truly been made holy, what should others experience when holy people show up?
- Have someone readIsaiah 9:1-7 out loud, and as you listen, ask God: are there any ways in which mylife is out of alignment with yourcoming kingdom? Are there any ways in which Iam putting hope in present-day rulers and governments that will ultimately disappoint me? If yourkingdom coming to earth is our hope and future, what needs to change about mypresent?
CLOSING PRAYER (5-15 minutes):
As a group, pray the "Our Father," and in light of this weekend's message in Isaiah, see if certain images and phrases don't jump out at you more than usual.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.