Community Group Questions 12/8/13

Ghosts of Christmas

Weekly Training Tip

This is the last week of the year for our Community Groups. After this week, there will not be any posts until Community Groups resume on Sunday, January 12th.

So in this week's video, we wrap up the Community Groups season with a few victories!

Here's the video:

[vimeo 81318113 w=500 h=281]

Announcements:

*Please let your Community Group know about the announcements that matter to them.

Christmas Invites

  • We’re really excited about this Christmas Series we’re starting today, and as you can see, we’ve decked out the whole place to help you get into the Christmas Spirit.

  • We’d like you to invite your friends, family, neighbors, and even your coworkers to join us for this series, and especially for our Christmas Eve services

  • There are 2 ways you can get involved inviting people:

    • Grab the Christmas Eve Invite Cards on your seats and hand them out to the people you know and invite them personally.

    • You can also get the word out with one of our cool West Pines Car Decals. (available at Guest Services)

Razzle Dazzle

  • Ladies - this is just for you - our Annual Women’s Ministry Ornament Exchange, Razzle Dazzle - is THIS THURSDAY!

  • We’re really excited about Razzle Dazzle and have put together an amazing evening for you all.

  • It will take place on Thursday, December 12th from 7-9pm, right here in our auditorium.

  • You can register today for just $10 a person in the back of the auditorium or on our website.

  • You can get lots more information at the table in the back or on our website.

Sermon Title: The Ghosts of Christmas, Part 1: Ghosts of the Past

Main Texts: Matthew 1:18-25

REMINDER: The following Topics are for your preparation purposes only and should not be shared with the group as a refresher.

Topics:

  • Mary and Joseph were engaged. During their engagement, Mary discovers that she is pregnant. This is awkward. Joseph knows that it is not his, because they had not had sex. Joseph thought Mary was a virgin. She tries to explain to him that it was a miracle. That God miraculously impregnated her with a child. What must that conversation have been like?

  • Joseph is in a difficult position. Clearly everyone is going to think the baby is his. He decided it is best to end things with her quietly so that she is not shamed in front of everyone. This reveals two things about what Joseph thinks. First, it seems like he really cares for Mary. He tries to spare her of shame. But secondly, it reveals that he believes she is really deserving of shame. And it would seem like all signs point to that. Accept one thing… if what Mary said was true.

  • God decides to clear things up with Joseph. In a dream an Angel appears to Joseph and tells him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel confirms that what she said is true. He tells Joseph that the child should be called Jesus. The name Jesus means “God saves.” The angel says the child should be called that because he will save his people from their sins.

  • The destiny of this child is that He will wash away all our sin and shame.  He fulfills the prophecy that He will be called Immanuel, “God with us.”

  • The destiny of this child is accentuated by the plot of the story itself. Only if this child is who Mary says he is, will her shame be removed. In the same way only through Jesus, is our shame removed.

  • Who is this child? He is Jesus, Who saves from sin. That is what we celebrate this season. No longer do we have sin and shame hanging over us. Jesus has defeated it and washed it away.

  • But sometimes we don’t live like that is the case. Sometimes our past haunts us. Events, actions, situations swirl around in our memories. They stir up powerful and even at times oppressive feelings. Feelings of deep regret and crushing guilt. These “Ghosts of our Past” can debilitate our lives. We can be haunted by them for years. And if we continue to not believe the power of Jesus to save us from our sins, our lives can be gloomy.

  • Part of celebrating Christmas, is celebrating that the ghosts of our past have been defeated by the One who saves His people from their sins, Jesus.

Key Questions:

  • HIGH/LOW: What was the high point of your week, and what was the low point of your week?

  • What is still floating around in your brain since the study of this passage on Sunday?

  • READ: Matthew 1:18-25

  • Put yourself in Mary’s position. How would you have felt trying to explain to Joseph what had happened?

  • Put yourself in Joseph’s position. What thoughts and feelings would you have had if you were him?

  • What are the truths this passage declares about Jesus?

    1. He was born of a virgin, like the prophecy said

    2. He was the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit

    3. He was “God with us,” God in the flesh

    4. He would save His people from their sins

  • How does it affect our lives, to truly believe that Jesus has saved us from our sin and shame?

  • If we let our past haunt us, what kind of emotions does it stir up?

  • If we let our past haunt us, how does that affect our current lives?

  • In the moment that our past is haunting us, what can we practically do to stir up our faith that Jesus has saved us from our past?

  • Sometimes we still deal with the practical consequences of our past. How do we keep that from dragging us down into shame and guilt?

  • What are some types of things that people do that heap shame on others?

  • What types of things create a culture of grace around us?

  • What are some specific things you could do to celebrate what Jesus has done for you this season?

Don't forget to post your attendance after group.