Rejoicing in Hope: An Advent Study for Adults

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A recent Washington Post -ABC News poll found that three quarters of those surveyed believe the country is seriously off-track, and almost everyone perceives that the economy is in dire circumstances. Two thirds said they doubt they will be able to maintain their standard of living. The current gloom is not just economic.

A vast majority—eight in ten—are not satisfied with the way the federal government is working, and nearly a third are angry about the situation.

Advent - A Season of Hope, Love, Peace & Joy

While the dissatisfaction cuts across party lines, poll respondents are divided about who is to blame for the current mess. Democrats blame Republicans; and Republicans blame the President, a Democrat.

Prayer and Bible Study Resources

And while people of both parties agree that the economy is the most important issue facing the country, they do not agree on the solution. The people of Judah would have wished that their troubles were limited to a sluggish economy and political squabbling.

Week Three focuses on finding true joy in Christ's birth this Christmas.

The outlook for Judah was bleak. Their nation had been defeated in a fierce war with the Babylonians. The conquering Babylonians all but destroyed Judah: They tore down most of the houses and businesses in Jerusalem and much of the rest of the country, laid waste to most of the farms and vineyards, and destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. The destruction of Judah was not limited to physical devastation.

The Babylonians forced many people to move hundreds of miles away to live in exile in Babylon. The Babylonians purposely exiled the leaders of Judah: scholars, religious leaders, government officials, and more who were considered the brightest and best. Those who were left behind had no one to lead them; and those who were taken away faced a grim future as exiles in a foreign land.

A Different Kind of Christmas – Hope: A Free Advent Lesson

What future did the people of Judah have? Some people were ready to give up.

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They were convinced that there was no hope. They were also convinced that God no longer cared for them.

The Meaning of "Advent"

After all, God did not come to their rescue in their time of need; and the Temple, which was considered to be the very house of God, was in ruins. While the situation seemed hopeless to some, others had faith that there was hope, no matter how grim their prospects seemed. They had faith in God. But why would God save them? The prophet was realistic in his appeal.

He knew that the people of Judah had not always been faithful. The truth is they had failed. The prophet acknowledges in Isaiah that the people had sinned. Isaiah understood that God would not save them because they were so good.

Advent Week 3: Hope

Instead, he prayed that God would come to them and save them even though their good works were unclean. He also prayed that God would forgive them. He prayed that God, like a potter, would mold and transform them. If we face up to how our lives really are, we will admit that we have much in common with the people of Judah. When you stay focused on your purpose instead of your problem, you can be happy even when life seems to be falling apart.

Paul was an old man when he was in prison in Rome.

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Read More. Let God put the pieces back together. Few things rob your happiness faster than being criticized or feeling like others are working against you. Because we all want to be loved. We all want approval. Paul knew this. Learning to thank God for what he has given us is an important part of our spiritual journey. So how do you make gratitude to God an integral part of your life?