There are few things more comforting when you are going through a difficult time than to hear the words, "I am with you." So much comfort can be found in the fact that you are not alone when life is hard. This week, we are looking at a name for Jesus found in Scripture that reminds us that we are never alone: Immanuel, which literally means "God with us." As we are reminded of this name for Jesus, we will find hope and comfort, knowing that we do not have to live our lives by ourselves. We will also discover that Jesus, Immanuel, is the greatest gift we will ever receive.
What is your favorite Christmas gift (besides Jesus, of course) that you have ever received?
1. Why is Christmas important to you personally and spiritually?
2. How does Jesus' name, Immanuel, give you hope in seasons of waiting or seasons of difficulty?
3. Read Luke 2:1-6. How are the circumstances related to Jesus' birth different than you might have expected the birth of the Son of God to be?
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.
And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.
4. What do the humble circumstances surrounding Jesus' birth tell you about God and His kingdom?
5. Read John 3:16-21. According to these verses, why did God send Jesus to come to earth? How does understanding the depth of God's love affect the way you live?
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
6. According to Luke 2, after they saw Jesus, they told everyone whom they encountered about Him. Whom are you sharing the good news of Jesus' birth?
7. We learn in Matthew 2 that the wise men went to great lengths to find and worship Jesus. How are you intentionally seeking Jesus during this Christmas season?
This time of the year can be really wonderful for some people, but for others, it can be really painful. Does your group know anyone who is having a really difficult holiday season? As a group, consider something you all can do to show them God's love (take them a meal, send them a card, buy a few Christmas presents for their children if they are struggling financially, etc.). Show them that they are not alone as they face this difficult time.
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For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.