Every day we are bombarded with bad news: earthquakes that destroy the lives of people still trying to salvage something from the last disaster; volcanic eruptions that displace almost an entire nation’s population; the British monarchy in disarray; the seemingly endless political uproar in Washington … and the list goes on. The increase of gang activity, the opioid epidemic, the rise of anti-Semitism.
Early in the first century, Judah lived under Roman occupation. The narrow city streets of Jerusalem reverberated with the sound of marching Roman soldiers, and the hillsides were dotted with victims hung on crosses. Surely, she, too, became depressed with all the bad things that were happening. Many people were sick with incurable diseases. The religious system was corrupted by priests appointed by the Roman oppressors. Taxes collected for the Roman emperor had almost reached extortion levels. And God seemed silent. Then one day, in the small synagogue of Nazareth, the son of the local carpenter’s widow stood and read from the Prophet Isaiah. When He had rolled up the scroll, given it back to the attendant and sat down, He announced that Isaiah’s prophetic words were fulfilled in Himself that very day! He had come to proclaim Good News!
Read Luke 4:18-19
I. THE GOOD NEWS OF FORGIVENESS OF SIN
“He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.”
- Who are the poor according to Matthew 5:3? Revelation 3:14-17? 2 Corinthians 8:9?
- Why do we need forgiveness of sin? See Genesis 2:16-17 with 3:6, 17, 19, 23-24; Genesis 5:5; Romans 3:23 with 6:23; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.
- Can you think of anyone who is exempt from the need for forgiveness? See Romans 3:10; 1 John 1:8-10.
- What was the price God paid to offer us forgiveness of sin? Give phrases from Hebrews 9:22; Ephesians 1:7; Acts 4:12; 1 Peter 1:18-19.
- Is there any way, other than Jesus, to obtain forgiveness from God for your sin? See 1 John 2:2; John 3:16; 14:6. If there were any other way to forgive us, do you think God would have found it?
- Write out the unique aspect of the Good News that is announced in each of the following verses: Romans 8:32; Romans 5:6-8; John 3:16-18; Romans 6:23; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 10:17; Psalm 103:12; John 1:12; Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:26-28; Romans 10:12-13; Ephesians 1:13-14; Hebrews 13:5; John 14:1-3; Revelation 21:3-4.
- Who do you think is exempt from this offer? Read Acts 2:21; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-6.
- Describe in your own words the first time you heard the Good News of forgiveness of sin. Who announced the Good News to you? When did you accept God’s offer of forgiveness?
II. THE GOOD NEWS OF FREEDOM FROM OPPRESSION
“He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set free the oppressed.”
- From the following verses, explain how someone can see, yet be blind: John 9:39-41; Matthew 7:3-5; 2 Peter 1:5-9; James 1:22-25; Revelation 3:15-17.
- What are some things today that oppress people, or hold them captive? Read Romans 6:12, 16; Romans 7:22-24; Hebrews 2:14-15.
- Who do you know who is a “prisoner?” Would you pray for them now?
- What things hold you captive, hindering you from freely living for Christ? Is it worth trading your freedom for any one of them?
- From the following verses, give phrases that encourage those who are oppressed: Matthew 11:28-30; Hosea 11:4; Nahum 1:13; Zephaniah 3:17-20; Matthew 1:21; John 10:10; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Hebrews 9:15; Galatians 5:11; Romans 8:1.
- Which of these verses will you share this week with someone you know who is held captive, blind or oppressed?
III. THE GOOD NEWS OF FAVOR WITH GOD
“To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
A. National Favor
- Using Deuteronomy 28:1-14 as a guide, make a comprehensive list of all the blessings God has poured out on America.
- What are some of the warnings that God gives in Deuteronomy 28:15-58 that America would do well to heed? Name the consequences of not heeding the warnings that are already being fulfilled.
- If America is sliding into judgment and losing God’s favor, what should she do, according to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14?
- What encouragement do you receive from 2 Chronicles 7:15?
- How were these promises claimed by Daniel, then fulfilled by God? See Daniel 9:1-6, 17-19 with Ezra 1:1-4.
- If God blessed Judah when Daniel cried out to Him on her behalf, do you think this could be the year of God’s blessing on America—if those called by His Name would pray?
B. Personal Favor
- What are some of the conditions that need to be met in order to receive the Lord’s blessings in your personal life, according to Deuteronomy 6:5-9, 18-19, 24-25; 7:9-15; 11:27-28?
- What do you need to do in a practical way to meet the conditions?
- What two conditions need to be met in order to receive all God’s spiritual blessings, as described in Ephesians 1:3? Have you met those conditions?
- From Ephesians 1:1-23, list at least 10 of the blessings God offers. Explain in your own words what each one means to you.
- Are there enough blessings to go around for everyone who wants them? Read Romans 11:33-36; Ephesians 1:16-19; 3:16, 20; Philippians 4:19; John 1:14, 16.
In a world of despair and increasing hopelessness, it’s very important that you and I do not lose our focus. Our focus is not on the despair and misery and hate—it’s not on the problems or the crisis or the disaster. Our focus is on Jesus and the forgiveness, freedom and favor that He offers! Saturated in doom and gloom, many people are looking for answers—for something that makes sense of the senseless and gives hope to the hopeless. You and I have the answer—and it’s Jesus! There has never been a more strategic, opportune time to tell others about Him. It’s time to proclaim the Good News! Let’s do it! Now. ©2020 Anne Graham Lotz
This article is adapted from a study originally published in June 2005.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
Anne Graham Lotz has proclaimed God’s Word worldwide for more than 40 years. Her newest book, “Jesus in Me: Experiencing the Holy Spirit as a Constant Companion,” is available from major booksellers online.