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Bible Study: Chesed, A Love that won't Let Go - Christmas 1

Text: Isaiah 63:7-14 for the First Sunday after Christmas, lectionary series A

Download a PDF of Bible Study: Chesed, a Love that Won't Let Go - Christmas 1

Objective

Participants will see and reflect God's unfailing love in their lives

Group Guidelines

This study is designed for groups of 4-8. Participants should feel free to pass. A variety of Bible versions would be helpful. 

Building Community

  1. Have someone begin by introducing themselves by their first name preceded by an adjective that begins with the same letter (e.g. Magical Mark, Popular Patty, etc.). The next person must repeat all the names and adjectives that have already been given before they introduce themselves. (e.g. "Hello, Magical Mark and Popular Patty. I'm Jazzy Jason."
  2. Share an especially meaningful or thoughtful gift that you received this or some other Christmas. What made the gift so significant for you? How do you feel about the person who gave you the gift?
  3. At Christmas we worship a God who gives. Describe a gift you have received from God. Describe how you feel about the One who gave you the gift.

Looking at God's Word

Text Setting: Israel once experienced the invasion of a foreign army. That army destroyed every building, house and place of worship. They burned fields and destroyed livestock. They murdered people, separated families and carried the citizens off to live for nearly 70 years in a strange and hostile country. Then one day the people were allowed to go back home, to rebuild, to replant and to begin raising their families again. Isaiah's words express how it felt for the people of Israel to be back home again and their gratitude to God. 

  1. Read Isaiah 63:7-14. How does the speaker feel about God? What words give you clues?
  2. Recall a time in your life when you needed love. Pick a situation below and tell the story as it applies to you. Share it with your group.
    Situation                                              How Someone Loved You
    a. A time I was really down was...         but I was picked up by...
    b. A time I felt terribly lost was...           but I was found by...
    c. A time I really needed help was...      but I was saved by...
    d. A time I was falsely accused was...    but I was believed by...
    e. A time I was stubborn and angry was... but...kept faith in me by...
    Circle the words that best describe the qualities of the one who showed you love.
    love     prickly     firm     self-giving     kind     self-serving
    warm     angry     wise     gentle     determined     compassionate
    How did you respond to being loved or helped?
    ___I gave someone a hug ___I said a word of thanks ___I wrote a note
    ___I told others about it ___I said a prayer of thanks ___I did nothing
  3. These verses have some great word-pictures.
    • In verse 7, where the NIV says "kindness" and "many kindnesses" (RSV "steadfast love"), the Hebrew word is "chesed," (KEH-said). The Good News Bible translates it as "unfailing love." Chesed is "a love that won't let go." Say the word together.
    • Also in verse 7 is the word "compassion" (NIV: "pity" in the RSV). The Hebrew word is based on the word for "the womb" where children are conceived and nurtured until they are born.
    • At the end of verse 9 is "carried." The same word is used for a mother carrying a child on her hip or of a father carrying a child on his shoulders.
    • Read the text again with these word pictures in your mind and, in your own words, write a sentence that describes God's love for people. Share your sentence.

Reinforcing What Has Been Learned

Identify someone (by name, in your heart) whom you can serve with "chesed" love.

Closing

Suggestions for closing:

  • Join in a prayer of thanks to God for His love that won't give up on you.
  • Pray for the person you can love with chesed.
  • Read Psalm 136 responsively. It has lots of chesed.
  • Sing one of the following: "I will Sing of the Mercies of the Lord," "Amazing Grace," "What Wondrous Love," "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow."

 Originally published in Discovery Bible Studies V, studies on the Old Testament readings for lectionary series A, in 1992.

Republished and revised in December 2013 for thESource.

 



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