CLC USA, the publishers of Resisting Gossip.
I'm excited about this trip because CLC is celebrating their 75th anniversary as a mission with a special conference, and they've asked me to speak about how BIG our God is.
Dave Almack asked me write them a letter and Bible study to help prepare all of our hearts for this event. Here's what I wrote:
Dear CLC Friends,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I am eagerly anticipating our time together at your upcoming annual conference. As a CLC author and friend of the ministry, I am excited to share God’s Word with you as you celebrate your 75th anniversary.
The theme for your historic conference is “Our Big God,” and Dave Almack asked me to send some Scriptures on this theme to reflect upon as we prepare our hearts for our time together.
I suggest spending some extended time contemplating Isaiah 40 before the conference. Few chapters in the Bible can match Isaiah 40 in their depictions of the greatness and grandeur of our Lord. Isaiah both comforts and challenges his readers to place their hope in this great big God.
Here are a few questions to ruminate upon as you pray over this passage:
A. THE LORD IS COMING :: ISAIAH 40:1-11
1. What came before this chapter in Isaiah’s prophecy? Why did the people of Israel need the comfort of Isaiah 40?
2. What are the word pictures Isaiah uses to describe the coming of the Lord? How do they encourage God’s people to hope in Him? When and how will these prophecies be fulfilled?
3. In verse 6-8, we are reminded of our transitoriness in contrast to the enduring power of God’s Word. What are some of the implications and applications of this truth to our lives today? How does it chasten and also encourage us?
4. Reflect on the concurrent character of the God who is coming, simultaneously both a powerful king and gentle shepherd (vv.9-11). How does that make you feel? In what ways does it help you to hope in Him?
B. THE LORD IS AWESOME :: ISAIAH 40:12-26
5. Why does Isaiah shift gears in verses 12-26? How does he challenge the people of God in the second part of the chapter to believe in the comfort that was promised in the first part?
6. Think about each of the word pictures that Isaiah uses to illustrate the incomparable awesomeness of the LORD. How does each one convey how big, smart, tough, and worthy He is? How does this lead you to worship? What do you wish you understood better or saw clearer about Who God is?
C. THE LORD GIVES STRENGTH :: ISAIAH 40:27-31
7. Why do you think the last paragraph of this prophecy includes a gentle rebuke (vv.27-28)? Do you need to hear that yourself right now? Why?
8. The upshot of this whole chapter is a call to hope in the Lord, to wait on Him. “To wait” is to live out a “resolute, expectant longing.” What might that look like in your life?
9. When we hope in the Lord in this way, He gives us the strength to go on (vv.28-31). This strength is supernatural and often surprising. How have you experienced this in the past? In what ways do you need it today? Spend some time asking God for a vision of His greatness and the hope to keep trusting and waiting on Him.
Further Resources for Studying Isaiah 40
Follow this link to listen to a sermon I preached on Isaiah 40 on my 15th anniversary as pastor of Lanse Free Church. Or you can read the manuscript of that message here.
May the Lord bless you as you prepare your hearts for the conference.
I look forward to being with you.
- Matt Mitchell