It's Time for Good News
June 1, 2005 - Every day we are bombarded with bad news: details revealed during the trial of a pop star accused of child molestation, the agonizing moment-by-moment drama of the court-ordered starvation of a mentally incapacitated woman, the kidnapping and killing of little girls by repeat sex offenders, the shooting rampage of a depressed high school student that ended the lives of nine people before he shot himself, earthquakes that destroyed the lives of people still trying to salvage something from the last disaster ... and the list goes on. It seems endless.
by Anne Graham Lotz
Early in the first century, Judah lived under Roman occupation. The narrow city streets of Jerusalem echoed with the sound of marching Roman soldiers, and the hillsides were dotted with victims hanging on crosses. Surely, people then, too, were weighed down by bad things. Many people had incurable diseases; the religious system was corrupted by priests appointed by the Roman oppressors; taxes collected for Rome had almost reached extortion levels—and God seemed silent. Then one day, in a small synagogue of Nazareth, the son of a local carpenter's widow stood and read from the Prophet Isaiah. When He sat down, He announced that Isaiah's words were fulfilled in Himself that very day. He had come to proclaim Good News!
Read Luke 4:18-19
The Good News of Forgiveness of Sin
"He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor" (Luke 4:18a, NIV).
- According to Matthew 5:3, Revelation 3:14-17 and 2 Corinthians 8:9, who are the poor?
- Why do we need forgiveness? See Genesis 2:16-17, Genesis 3:6-19, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22, Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23
- What was the price God paid to offer us forgiveness of sin? Give phrases from the following: Hebrews 9:22, Ephesians 1:7, Acts 4:11-12, 1 Peter 1:18-19
- How do we obtain forgiveness from God for our sin? See John 3:16, John 14:6 and 1 John 2:2.
- Write out the unique aspect of the Good News that is announced in each of the following verses: Romans 5:6-8, John 3:16-18, Romans 6:23, Hebrews 7:25, Hebrews 10:17, John 1:12, Galatians 3:26-28, Ephesians 1:13-14, Hebrews 13:5, John 14:1-3, Revelation 21:3-4.
- Look at Acts 2:21, 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 Timothy 2:3-6. To whom does God make His offer of salvation?
- Describe in your own words the first time you heard the Good News of forgiveness of sin. Who announced the Good News to you? When did you accept God's offer of forgiveness?
"He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18b, NIV).
- From the following verses, explain how someone can see, yet be blind: John 9:39-41, Matthew 7:3-5, 2 Peter 1:5-9, James 1:22-25 and Revelation 3:15-17.
- What are some specific things that oppress people or hold them captive? Consider Romans 6:12, 16; Romans 7:22-24 and Hebrews 2:14-15.
- Do you know a "prisoner"? Pray for him or her now.
- What things hold you captive, hindering you from freely living for Christ? Is your freedom in Christ worth trading for any one of them?
- Give phrases from the following verses that encourage those who are oppressed: Matthew 11:28-30, Hosea 11:4, Nahum 1:13, Zephaniah 3:17-20, Matthew 1:21, John 10:10, 1 Corinthians 1:21, Hebrews 9:15, Romans 8:1.
- Which of these verses will you share this week with someone you know who is blind, oppressed or held captive?
" ... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:19, NIV)
- Using Deuteronomy 28:1-14 as a guide, make a comprehensive list of all the blessings God has poured out on America.
- What are some of the warnings that God gave ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 28:15-58 that America would do well to heed? Name some of the consequences already happening that you think may be a result of not heeding the warnings.
- If our nation is sliding into judgment and losing God's favor, what should she do, according to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14?
- What encourages you in 2 Chronicles 7:15?
- How were these promises claimed by Daniel, then fulfilled by God? See Daniel 9:1-6, 17-19 and Ezra 1:1-4.
- If God blessed Judah when Daniel cried out to Him on her behalf, do you think this could be the year of God's blessing—if those called by His name would pray?
- What are some of the conditions that Israel needed to meet in order to receive the Lord's blessings, according to Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 18, 24-25 and Deuteronomy 7:9-15?
- Although we are saved through grace and not by obeying the law (Romans 8:3-4), what do you need to do in a practical way to live in accordance with God's standards as seen in the above passages?
- What two conditions need to be met in order to receive all God's spiritual blessings, as described in Ephesians 1:4? Have you met those conditions?
- From Ephesians 1:1-23, list at least 10 of the blessings God offers. Explain what each one means to you.
- Consider Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:16-19; Ephesians 3:16, 20; Philippians 4:19 and John 1:14, 16. What phrases indicate God's supply of blessings that He is able to pour out on all who belong to Him?