Topic for this week: 1st &  2nd Advent

Theme for the month of December: God With Us

The Carmichael SDA Church is providing spiritual growth resources for individuals, couples, families, and small groups as an extension during this pandemic for a church that is scattered like salt and to indeed be salty; to be light and receive another infusion of power. Pick and choose from these resources for your spiritual growth, whether it’s during your time of personal devotions or family worship or small group gathering. The 10 options include:


Bible Dialogue

ADVENT (from Lat. adventus “coming”). A term often taken to designate either the incarnation of Christ or his second coming

How excited have you ever been when you heard someone was coming to visit for the Holiday Season? It could be an uncle, aunt, cousin, grandparents or even some friends.  Depending on your level of excitement, you could be anticipating the arrival by counting down the days. Way back in Genesis, God had promised that a son would be born that would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). That would seem like a long time to fulfill a promise, yet the apostle Paul wrote that Jesus came "at the right time" (Gal. 4:4; Rom 5:6).

The promise created a sense of expectation from generation to generation. Some had forgotten about this promise to come to our planet and visit his children in person and to make things right. Thousands of years after the promise in the Garden of Eden, Jesus arrives on planet earth.  Not as God alone, but as a fully human person; not only fully human, but also born into this world like everyone else. His entrance into this world was not by an apparition. Jesus' miraculous entrance into this world took place through the fully human experience of being born of a woman. Totally unperceived by everyone with the exception of a handful of shepherds and some wise men from another country. Mary and Joseph didn't have a reveal party or even a baby shower. Jesus wasn't even born in a proper place. Instead he was delivered in a stable, surrounded by barn animals and his crib was a trough filled with hay where animals feed and drank from. This miraculous and unnoticed entrance into our world is called the "First Advent".

Later on, Jesus tells his disciples that he will go back to heaven and "come again" (John 14:3). This time his advent will not be confined to a small village in Bethlehem and to a handful of guests. Instead Jesus says that when he comes "again" that he will come with "all of his angels and in the glory of his Father." (Matt. 16:27; 25:31). The apostle John, writes as it was revealed to him, that "every eye shall see him" (Rev. 1:7).

In the New Testament, the word for the second advent is Parousia which means "appearing". A visible, noticeable, and an impossible event to ignore. The apostle Paul describes it like this: "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words." (1 Thess. 4:16-18).  May you be encouraged with this week's Spiritual Growth Resource on the topic of the 1st and 2nd Advent.


When Jesus Shows Up... Again!
What happens when you find out someone important or special is coming to visit you?

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Matthew 24:30-31; John 14:1-3

  1. What do these promises tell us about God?

  • He wants to live with us.
  • He cares enough to prepare a “place” for us.
  • God always has a plan.
  • God won’t leave us in this world forever.
  • Christ’s second coming will be “soon.”
  • Nobody knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return.
  • He tells us ahead of time, so we have hope.
  • We will have plenty of signs to know when to get ready.
  • Other.

2. How do you understand “soon” when referring to the 2nd Coming? (Rev 1:1; 3:11; 22:6, 7)

  • Not soon enough.
  • As “soon” as it took for Jesus to come the first time.
  • It should have happened already.
  • It should have happened before I was born.
  • “Soon” no longer means “soon” to me.
  • I would rather just live by faith and not worry about it.
  • It’s just a way to put off what you really want to happen right now.
  • Other.

3. Why do Paul and Jesus describe death as “sleep”? (John 11:11-16)

  • A temporary transition between the time we die until the time we are awakened (2nd coming)
  • We know what sleep is like, we don’t know what it’s like to die.
  • Sleep is something we can be awakened from.
  • Sleep can help a person get back on their feet.
  • It’s more comforting.
  • It’s more confusing.
  • To help us differentiate between the first and second deaths.
  • Other.

4. What does it take to wake you up from your “sleep” (1 Thess 4:16)

  • An alarm clock.
  • The sound of people moving around the house.
  • The smell of breakfast.
  • Banging of pots and pans.
  • A trumpet sound.
  • Someone shouting.
  • The voice of God.
  • Other.

5. How does Paul’s description of the 2nd Coming give you “comfort”? (1 Thess 4:13-14)

  • Jesus cares about keeping me informed about what happens after death.
  • It’s OK to grieve.
  • Just as Jesus died and was resurrected, it will be the same for us too.
  • Death is like sleeping.
  • Death is not final.
  • When I close my eyes for the last time on earth, I know the next thing I’ll see is Jesus coming in the clouds.
  • Jesus is the only one who controls my ultimate destiny.
  • Other.

6. How does Christ’s first advent inform Christ’s second advent?

  • The first advent makes the second advent more certain.
  • The second will be a repeat of the first.
  • Most people missed the first, and most people will miss the second.
  • We always want Christ to come as the conquering king.
  • “Wise men” still seek him.
  • Those who are religious seem to miss him.
  • People low on the social totem pole know about Christ’s coming before others.
  • Other.

7.  How do you live with a double focus of anticipating living with Jesus in heaven while living for Jesus on earth?

8.  When it comes to Christ’s Second Coming:
When do you share this? With whom? Where? Why? How?

Prayer Experiences

The very last verse of the Bible (Rev. 22:20) is a prayer that is connected with the 2nd Coming. John writes down Jesus’ final words in Revelation. Those words are “Surely, I am coming soon.” John responds with an “Amen!” and then with a direct request, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
During your prayers this week, try finishing your prayer with the same request John made, “Come Lord Jesus.”

If you are apprehensive about praying such a prayer, pray that God will help you to love his coming (2 Tim 4:8).

Imagine yourself being there at the moment of Jesus’ appearance. What are you doing? What are you saying? Meditate on the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 and imagine yourself talking to Jesus at this moment.

Read Revelation 22:7-20, noting the dialogue between Christ and his people, back and forth, with the word “Come.”
Vs. 7 Jesus says, “Look I am coming soon!”
Vs 12 repeats Christ’s promise, “Look, I am coming soon!”
Vs. 17 the Spirit and bride (we) say, “Come!”
Vs. 17 invites the one who hears (us) to say, “Come!”
Vs. 17 encourages the one who is thirsty to “come.”
Vs. 20 contains Christ’s promise again, “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Vs. 20 also includes our response again, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
These seven renderings of the word “Come” at the end of Revelation match the most frequent number in the book; the perfect number seven. Three of these (the symbolic number for God) come from Christ, and four of these (the symbolic number for the world) come from us.

Discussion Questions

Select from these questions, or let them prompt your own questions. You can reflect on these by yourself, or discuss them with another person or group of people.
  • How often have you heard that “Jesus is Coming Again?”
    1. As long as I can remember
    2. Every week at church
    3. Every time something bad happens
  • Can you remember what you thought when you first heard about Jesus coming to earth?
    1. Sounds exciting!
    2. How’s that even possible?
    3. You began to imagine what it would look like and sound like.
    4. What if I’m not ready?
    5. I wish he would come soon.
    6. I hope he doesn’t come just quite yet.
    7. This is the first time I’m hearing about it
  • What would it be like to know that your favorite teacher is suddenly leaving?
    1. Disappointed.
    2. Confused.
    3. Upset.
    4. Worried about the next teacher.
    5. Sad.
    6. Concerned, but at the same time, ready to put what I’ve learned into practice.
    7. Other.
  • Many are fearful of the 2nd coming? Why do you think that is?
    1. We feel like we are not ready.
    2. We want to get some things done before Jesus returns.
    3. We want family and friends to go to heaven too.
    4. I don’t want to lose the things I’ve worked hard for.
    5. Other.
  • What should we do while we wait for Jesus to come again? (Matthew 24:14; 25:35)
    1. Just go along living life like I am now.
    2. Go to church.
    3. Share the gospel with people.
    4. Do good things.
    5. Gather more “oil in our lamps” as we wait for the bridegroom to arrive.
    6. Develop the talents God gave us.
    7. Serve others, especially outsiders.
    8. Other.
  • How can Adventists keep looking for Jesus when it’s been thousands of years since he left and more than a hundred years since the “Adventist Church” formed?
    1. We just need to be more vigilant.
    2. It’s not realistic.
    3. Those who maintain a personal connection with God are always on the lookout for him.
    4. Feed ourselves a steady diet that includes “signs of the times.”
    5. Other.

Application Ideas

How does one live with the awareness and expectation of the 2nd Coming. We sometimes tend to focus too much on the event of the 2nd Coming and the events and signs surrounding the 2nd Coming and it's easy to lose sight of WHO is coming. 

Have you ever come close to an important person and they know your name? How impressed would you have been that a person like that remembered my name? Why would they even know your name? He would have to know who you are, that person took the time to match your face with your name. This implies that there’s some kind of relationship with this person. Now imagine that at the 2nd Coming, Jesus calls your name. 

What does it take for Jesus to know your name? There’s a story in the Bible where Jesus tells people that he doesn’t know their name or who they are. These were people who claimed to be Christians but didn’t help those who were sick, hungry and in prison. Apparently, in the interim between the 1st and the 2nd coming, those who Jesus “knew” were those people who didn’t focus so much on the 2nd Coming, but on taking care of the “least of these”.

Sharing Options

How do you share the Good News of Jesus and leave out that Jesus is coming again? Because one may seem more credible than the other. Consider though, if we believe that Jesus came as a baby into this world, born of a virgin, then believing that Jesus will come again doesn’t seem too unrealistic.

Would Jesus offer eternal life then leave us in this world forever? Jesus had to die in order for death to have a solution, but there needs to be a resurrection for the promise to make sense. A symbolic resurrection happens at our baptism. But a literal resurrection happens at the 2nd Coming.

Why would a 2nd Coming matter to someone who doesn’t believe in God? It’s probably not the first thing you would talk about in a conversation about God. As part of the Gospel story, the life, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ has a next step - that is, a reunion with Jesus. 

Our God is a God who wants to be reunited with his children.

Bible-In-My-Head, Heart, and Hand

One way to keep the reality of the 2nd Coming in our Heads, Hearts and Hands is to memorize the words that remind us of this promise. Here are several verses you can memorize this week. 
John 14:1-3
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Revelation 1:7
Revelation 22:7, 12


Enjoy the variety of music that speaks of God's Presence