one great purpose


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SESSION 2

ONE GREAT PURPOSE

The Point We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

The Passage Isaiah 43:1-7

The Bible Meets Life Where do I fit in? It’s easy to fill our lives with things and activities. Busyness can drown out the quiet, nagging question that asks: What’s the purpose of all I’m doing? What have I really accomplished? God created us for so much more than what we often settle for. He created us with purpose and for a purpose. Life becomes rich and full as we discover and live out God’s purpose for our lives.

The Setting God inspired the prophet Isaiah to address many situations in Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Several passages in Isaiah’s later chapters deal with the “servant” of the Lord, who is sometimes identified with the nation Israel (41:8). Occasionally, however, the servant texts point ahead to the suffering and death of Jesus (52:13–53:12; 1 Peter 2:21-25). In Isaiah 43 the servant was Israel, who had been disobedient to God (Isaiah 42:18-20) and had received God’s judgment (vv. 22-25).

© 2016 LifeWay

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

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What does the Bible say?

Isaiah 43:1-7 (HCSB) Jacob (v. 1)—Jacob was the twin brother of Esau (Genesis 25:26). His name was changed to “Israel” by God. Both names also referred symbolically to the Hebrew people.

Now this is what the Lord says—the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.

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I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you. 2

For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place. 3

Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and I love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of your life. 4

Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. 5

I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Do not hold them back! Bring My sons from far away, and My daughters from the ends of the earth— 6

everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.” 7

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© 2016 LifeWay

THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

GET INTO THE STUDY

10 minutes

DISCUSS: Invite your group members

Notes

to discuss Question #1 on page 21 of the PSG (Personal Study Guide): “When was a time you asked yourself, ‘What am I doing here?’” Allow time for each person to respond. SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 22): As young adults, it can feel like you’re always identifying or working toward significant goals.

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One more year and I’ll have my degree. After two years of budgeting and saving, I’ll be able to buy my first home.

TIP: Love music? So do we! Each week you’ll find a song that corresponds to that week’s session. Click hereSee page 161 for a complete list of Playlist Picks for our Fall 2016

My current job is helping me to get my foot in the door. In a few years, I’ll be in a position to work on projects that I’m really passionate about.

Goals aren’t inherently bad; they help us achieve significant milestones. But, goals and achievements don’t answer the one question we all face: What was I made to do? What’s my purpose? ACTIVITY (OPTIONAL): Display the following items to your group: a hammer, toothbrush, fork, and camera. Ask: “What is the purpose of each item?” Discuss. Then ask: “What would happen if an item isn’t used for its intended purpose? What would be the result?” Discuss how each item was designed with a specific task in mind. Attempting to use one for a whole different purpose doesn’t typically work. Like these items, each of us have been designed with a specific task in mind. GUIDE: Call attention to The Point on page 22 of the PSG: “We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” PLAYLIST PICK:

PRAY: Transition into the discussion with prayer. Spend time thanking God for the unique purpose He has given to His people. © 2016 LifeWay

“Alive in You” by Jesus Culture

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

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10 minutes

STUDY THE BIBLE Isaiah 43:1-2 (HCSB)

Notes

Now this is what the Lord says—the One who created you, Jacob, and the One who formed you, Israel—“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. 2 I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.” 1

READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Isaiah 43:1-2. SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 23): Isaiah 43 addressed God’s relationship with Israel, and it still holds great meaning for us today. Consider what verses 1-2 teach us about this special bond:

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God created and formed each person. God redeemed the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. God called them by name and they were His possession.

SAY: “Don’t miss the intimacy and purpose in the words the Lord used to speak of Israel: ‘created,’ ‘formed,’ ‘redeemed,’ and ‘called.’ God created you as well—and He created you to live in relationship with Him.” DISCUSS: Question #2 on page 23 of the PSG: “How can these verses be seen as both good news and bad news?”

ALTERNATE QUESTION: When have you felt that God knows your name?

SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 24): Isaiah the prophet painted a portrait of adversities such as waters and rivers, fire and flame. Even in difficult trials and circumstances like these, God has promised to be with His people. DISCUSS: Question #3 on page 24 of the PSG: “How has God used specific trials in your life to teach you more about Himself?” TRANSITION: We can rest in our relationship with God because of the great promises He has given us.

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© 2016 LifeWay

THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Isaiah 43:1-2 Commentary We were intended to be in relationship with God. Verse 1: God reminded His audience who He is. “Lord” refers to God’s special covenant name, revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:15). God identified Himself with many names or nicknames, such as “God Almighty” (Genesis 17:1), but “Lord” reminded His audience of their special covenant relation with Him. The Israelites were part of God’s overall creation, but in a special sense they were His people. God had called Abraham to be the father of a great nation, the Hebrews, who would eventually bless all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). God had formed His people for a special relation to Him, unique among all the nations of the world. “Formed” is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:7 for the creation of Adam. It could also be used for a potter shaping an object out of clay. God used two names in verse 1 for His people. Jacob was one of the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25:24-26). Later, after Jacob had spent a night wrestling with God, God gave him the new name Israel, meaning he “struggled with God” (see Genesis 32:28). Both these names were used later in the Old Testament to refer to the Hebrew nation. Jacob’s 12 sons were the ancestors of the tribes of Israel (Genesis 35:22b-26). Having identified Himself as the God of the Israelites, God announced they should “not fear.” Isaiah was not directed to name the specific historical crisis the nation faced. God offered two reasons His people should not be overcome with fear. First, He had redeemed them. The basic word picture here is of someone liberated from slavery or rescued from a threatening situation. Second, God had called His people by their name. The Israelites had a special covenant relation with God, and He said “you are Mine.” Being special to God, however, included the fact God held them accountable for their covenant responsibilities. The prophets, including Isaiah, often announced God’s judgment on disobedient people. Verse 2: God added a third reason His people should not be afraid in the face of danger. God assured them He would be with them. Then, God identified two kinds of adversity His people would face: waters and fire. These two terms can be literal or figurative, depending on one’s situation. The Israelites, for instance, had to pass through two bodies of water at key points in their history. In both cases, God miraculously intervened to allow them to pass through the Red Sea and the Jordan River on dry land (Exodus 14:21-22; Joshua 3:15-17). Daniel’s three friends were put into a fiery furnace, but they were not harmed (Daniel 3:23-28). King David used the imagery of water for a personal crisis (Psalm 69:1-2).

© 2016 LifeWay

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

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5 minutes

STUDY THE BIBLE Isaiah 43:3-4 (HCSB)

Notes

“For I Yahweh your God, the Holy One of Israel, and your Savior, give Egypt as a ransom for you, Cush and Seba in your place. 4 Because you are precious in My sight and honored, and I love you, I will give people in exchange for you and nations instead of your life.“ 3

READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Isaiah 43:3-4. SUMMARIZE THE COMMENTARY (VERSE 3): God continued to reassure His people. He identified Himself in three distinctive ways in verse 3. 1. First, He used His covenant name Yahweh, often translated as Lord. The Israelites lived in a world where most other countries had multiple gods and goddesses. God regularly reminded them that He alone was the true God. 2. Second, God is also the Holy One of Israel. This name for God appeared often in Isaiah’s messages (Isaiah 41:14,16,20). This name highlights both God’s special relation to Israel and His holiness. 3. Third, God is our Savior. We know God had an eternal plan that provided our salvation through His Son, Jesus. ALTERNATE QUESTION: What distracts you from enjoying God’s love?

DISCUSS: Question #4 on page 25 of the PSG: “What steps can we take to recognize and more fully enjoy God’s love?” (Note: Help your group to move beyond churchy answers to this question. This is a great opportunity to discuss in a real way the depth of God’s love and what it means for us each day.) TRANSITION: We’re intended to be in relationship with God to enjoy His love. However, as Christ-followers we’re also called to bring glory to God.

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© 2016 LifeWay

THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Isaiah 43:3-4 Commentary We were intended to enjoy God’s love. Verse 3: God continued to reassure His people. He identified Himself in three distinctive ways in this verse. First, He used His covenant name Yahweh, often translated as Lord. The Israelites lived in a world where most other countries had multiple gods and goddesses. God regularly reminded them that He alone was the true God (Isaiah 44:6). Second, God is also the Holy One of Israel. This name for God appeared often in Isaiah’s messages (41:14,16,20). This name highlights both God’s special relation to Israel and His holiness. Third, God is our Savior. We know God had an eternal plan that provided our salvation through His Son. The Old Testament writers pointed to God as our Savior. David described God as the “God of salvation” (Psalm 68:20) because He delivers us. The apostle Paul noted that Jesus’ death for our sins is a demonstration of God’s love for us (Romans 5:8). Isaiah often used “Savior” as a title for God’s relation to His people or noted God’s role in salvation (Isaiah 43:11; 45:15,17,20,22; 46:7). Besides using these distinctive titles or names, God mentioned that He had provided a ransom. The word picture of paying a ransom to get someone out of slavery or captivity is a common one in the Bible (Exodus 21:30; Mark 10:45; 1 Timothy 2:5-6). God assured His people they would be liberated through His ransom for them. Isaiah’s reference to “Egypt … Cush and Seba” puzzles many readers. We do not know enough about the exact historical context for this text to be sure about how these three countries in Africa were involved. God had liberated the Israelites from Egypt under the leadership of Moses. Egypt had been a military threat against the Israelites later on. The main point is clear, however. God is Savior; He paid the ransom that allowed His people to be free again. Verse 4: God continued to highlight aspects of His special relation to His people, Israel. For some readers the most surprising part of verse 4 may be God’s declaration “I love you.” Some Christians have the impression God’s love is a New Testament theme only. But the Old Testament acknowledges God loved His people. God did not choose Israel as His covenant partners because they had any inherent merit, but because God loved them (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). God’s choice of His people was an act of sheer grace, not a reward for being the best, brightest, or biggest of the nations of the world. Throughout their history God loved His people. God so loved His people that He would give people “in exchange for you.” Again, Bible students debate the exact historical context for this exchange. The main point is how far God would go to guarantee His people were delivered from adversity.

© 2016 LifeWay

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

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15 minutes

STUDY THE BIBLE Isaiah 43:5-7 (HCSB)

Notes

“Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east, and gather you from the west. 6 I will say to the north: Give them up! and to the south: Do not hold them back! Bring My sons from far away, and My daughters from the ends of the earth— 7 everyone called by My name and created for My glory. I have formed him; indeed, I have made him.” 5

READ: Ask a group member to read aloud Isaiah 43:5-7. SUMMARIZE THE PSG (PAGE 25): Because we were created to know and enjoy God’s love, we have nothing ultimately to fear. In verses 5-6, Isaiah prophesied to the nation of Israel that, even though they would face the difficulty of exile, God would bring them back. He was with them, and His presence would keep them. SAY: ”Verse 7 reveals why God created each of us. Our purpose as Christ-followers is to glorify Him.” ALTERNATE QUESTION: How can we work together as a group to glorify God?

DISCUSS: Question #5 on page 27 of the PSG: “What does it look like to glorify God in our everyday lives?” (Note: Help your group be specific in the discussion of this question. Be sure to discuss how we’re called to glorify God in each area of our lives, and not just on Sundays or at church events.) DO: Instruct group members to complete the activity on page 27 of the PSG on their own. If time permits, encourage volunteers to share their responses. I AM HIS: »» To reflect God’s character in my relationships this week, I can …

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To glorify God in my speech, I can … To honor God in a decision I’m currently facing, I can …

ACTIVITY (OPTIONAL): Create a Spotify public playlist with the Fall 2016 Playlist Picks found on page 161here, then send the playlist link to your group members. Encourage your group members to find a time this week to personally worship God, thanking Him for who He is and all He has done.

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© 2016 LifeWay

THE POINT

We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

Isaiah 43:5-7 Commentary We were intended to bring God glory. Verses 5-6: Again God reminded His people “Do not fear.” He would be with them in any situation they faced. Bible students struggle to identify the precise historical situation for these verses. Some think Isaiah was looking ahead to the end of the Babylonian captivity or exile. Decades later Cyrus, king of Persia, defeated Babylon and allowed the captives to return home. Isaiah named Cyrus in his later prophecies (44:28; 45:1). Here, however, God announced He would bring their descendants from all four directions: east, west, north, and south. Babylon was basically east of Judah, but some Israelites might have fled in all these directions. Isaiah might have a more general dispersion of God’s people in mind, not the Babylonian period in particular. No matter where God’s people were, He could gather them together. Verse 7: God’s special relation to His people is again reflected in calling them by His name. They knew Him, and they were “created for My glory.” “Glory” usually refers to a visible manifestation or expression of God, such as a bright light or radiance. To glorify God means to acknowledge His status as our Lord and God. Public worship is a time when we honor God, acknowledging His worth, holiness, and love for us. Our praise of God in our worship is an appropriate response to God’s greatness and goodness. A famous theological statement from centuries ago, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, declares, “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” This is a good summary of verse 7. God created and formed humans to have a vital, personal relation to Him. God sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save us from our sins. Our primary purpose is to glorify God. Besides public worship, we can bring glory to God in other ways. We can honor God by obeying His instructions for our daily living. Jesus summarized the great commandment as loving God with our total beings and loving our neighbors (Matthew 22:34-40). The Bible includes many ethical instructions about everyday activities. When we obey God’s instructions, we show our honor for Him. Sometimes God calls us to specific tasks or assignments. Isaiah gladly accepted God’s call to serve Him as a prophet (Isaiah 6:1-8). Other biblical characters, such as Jeremiah, Moses, and Jonah, were at first more reluctant to obey God’s call. Christians do not need to fear the challenges of life (43:1,5), because God is always with them, encouraging and empowering each one. Without the salvation available through Jesus, however, we would have something to fear. Isaiah’s primary emphasis was that we are created to glorify God. If you are already part of God’s people, you can boldly share the good news about your Savior with others who need that same salvation.

© 2016 LifeWay

BIBLE STUDIES FOR LIFE

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5 minutes

LIVE IT OUT SAY: “How will you let the truth of God’s purpose for you be evident in your life?”

Notes

GUIDE: Lead group members to consider the responses to the Bible study listed on page 28 of the PSG.

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Dig into Scripture. In order to be like God, we have to know Him. If you don’t already, make it your goal to spend time in God’s Word each day. Need a place to begin? Start with the Gospel of John.

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Reflect His character. One way we glorify God is being like Him. This week, be on the lookout for an opportunity to extend His love, holiness, or graciousness to someone.

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Take it outside. Gather your group for a hike, bonfire, volleyball game, or any outdoor activity. Enjoy a break from your typical schedule to enjoy God’s creation and each other.

Wrap It Up
 SAY: “We’ll spend much of our young adulthood striving to meet goals and achievements, but let’s not miss the purpose God has for our lives. We were made by God and for God—to bring Him glory!”

Grow with other group leaders at the Groups Ministry blog. LifeWay.com/GroupMinistry 38

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