Immanuel—God With Us
Discussion following Christmas Eve Service
"The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14
The human race was hopeless. Man was a casualty of his fallen nature, destined to an eternity of darkness and separation from God. Man had form societies, established governments, and tried every way imaginable to bring some order to his existence, but he was incapable of correcting the sin problem that corrupted his heart. But God was not powerless to restore His broken creation. Restoration is a part of His divine nature, and His love, the thing that most defines who He is, would not allow Him to ignore the man’s need to be saved. God had a plan. We call that plan Christmas, the blessed time when God was with us.
1. GOD BECAME A PART OF HIS CREATION
"Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.'" Luke 1:30-33
Discussion: Why did Jesus have to be born as a baby to a virgin?
2. GOD LIVED HIS LIFE AS AN ORDINARY MAN, BUT WITHOUT SIN
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin." Hebrews 4:15
Discussion: Why was it necessary that Jesus endure temptation, suffering, and betrayal?
3. GOD DID NOT LEAVE HIS CREATION UNTIL HE HAD GIVEN HOPE TO MEN
"Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3
Discussion: Why does Jesus’ resurrection give the world hope?
Application: Spend some time with family or friends sharing the joy and hope of Christmas.
Episode 3: Miracle Sunday 2022
Discussion following the sermon from 12/18/2022
"Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, 'Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!' But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.' Then Mary said to the angel, 'How can this be, since I do not know a man?' And the angel answered and said to her, 'The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.' Then Mary said, 'Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her." Luke 1:26-38
The miracle of Christmas is not just about what happened to Mary that first Christmas. It is God’s miraculous gift to the world. The God of the Universe was born to a teenage virgin, and as great of a miracle as that was, it was just the beginning of what would turn out to be the greatest story ever told. This small and seemingly insignificant little baby would bring hope and brighter days. The Christmas miracle not only offered God’s peace on earth and good will to men, it paid man’s debt for sin. God has a miracle for every one of us, and, in today’s sermon, Pastor Beau reveals four ingredients that we need for our miracle.
FOUR INGREDIENTS FOR A MIRACLE
1. IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9
Discussion: What are some difficult circumstances you have faced and were able to see God in them even though you didn’t understand?
2. IMPOSSIBLE PEOPLE
"There is none righteous, no, not one..." Romans 3:10
Discussion: Think about someone you need to offer grace and also a time when you have been
3. AVAILABLE SERVANT
"Mary responded, 'I am the Lord's servant. May everything you have said about me come true.'" Luke 1:38
Discussion: Where are you called to serve and how has God equipped you to serve?
4. ALMIGHTY GOD
"And Mary said: 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.'" Luke 1:46-49
Discussion: Share a miracle you have experienced or witnessed.
Application: Celebrate the Christmas miracle by attending a Christmas Eve service.
Episode 2: What To Do During Those Not So Silent Nights
Discussion following the sermon from 12/11/22
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5
"After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. 'Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,' the angel said. 'Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.' That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: 'I called my Son out of Egypt.' Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men's report of the star's first appearance. Herod's brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: 'A cry was heard in Ramah—weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted, for they are dead.'" Matthew 2:13-18
The Christmas story is not all “peace on earth and good will to men.” Jesus, our Emmanuel, came to abide with His creation. He brought God’s hope to the world, but there were many trials and anxious moments along the way. Life has its ups and downs, and we need to depend on God’s love, direction, and power. This sermon tells us how to combat all the world’s destructive voices. What to do during those not-so-silent nights.
1. LISTEN CAREFULLY TO THE VOICE OF GOD.
"It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon's Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, 'How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.' Jesus replied, 'I have already told you, and you don't believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father's name. But you don't believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father's hand. The Father and I are one.'" John 10:22-30
Discussion: What distracting voices hinder your hearing and understanding the voice of God?
2. OBEY INSTANTLY TO THE COMMANDS OF GOD.
"Jesus replied, 'All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn't love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.'" John 14:23-24
"'Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won't collapse because it is built on bedrock.'" Matthew 7:24-25
Discussion: Why is it important that we obey God instantly?
3. TRUST COMPLETELY IN THE LOVE AND POWER OF GOD.
"'I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid.'" John 14:27
Discussion: Why is trusting in God’s love and power the only source of true peace?
Application: Set aside a time to turn off all the world’s voices and listen only to God.
Episode 1: What To Do When My Days Seem Dark
Discussion following the sermon from 12/4/22
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:5
"This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. 'Joseph, son of David,' the angel said, 'do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord's message through his prophet: 'Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means "God is with us".'" Matthew 1:18-23
The Christmas message that is so precious to us was not a very promising situation for Joseph and Mary, the young couple that God picked to be the parents of His Son. From the human perspective, Mary’s pregnancy was a bad mistake. She was a young virgin betrothed to a respected man, and she became pregnant during their engagement period. And to make matters worse, this happened during a time when she and Joseph were apart. Joseph was faced with a hard decision about what he would do about Mary and the child she was carrying.
The beauty of Christmas is that God is the Savior of all our human messes. God did not only come to the rescue of this young family, but He used the situation to save His people and bring His light to a lost and dying world. This is who God is. He lights our path, and shows us a way of redemption even in our darkest days.
WHAT TO REMEMBER WHEN MY DAYS SEEM DARK:
1. GOD HAS NOT ABANDONED ME.
"...For God has said, 'I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.'" Hebrews 13:5
Discussion: Why do so many people feel lost and forgotten this time of year?
2. GOD COMPLETELY UNDERSTANDS ME.
"Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being." Philippians 2:6-7
"This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin." Hebrews 4:15
Discussion: Does it give you hope to know that God understands you completely? Why?
3. GOD IS STILL WORKING THROUGH ME.
"'For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'" Jeremiah 29:11
Discussion: Why does God’s perfecting process take so long and hurt so much?
4. GOD'S GREAT JOY WILL SOON FIND ME.
"But the angel reassured them. 'Don't be afraid!' he said. 'I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.'" Luke 2:10
Discussion: Where do you need God’s joy this Christmas season?
Application: Shine God’s light on someone who is having some dark days this Christmas.