Every moment of your life, both good and bad,
has brought you to this moment with God.


Before the birth of Jesus came about, God was with…

Adam (Genesis 3:8)

Enoch (Genesis 5:24)

Noah (Genesis 6:9)

Abraham (Genesis 17:1-5)

Joseph (Genesis 39:2-3, 20)

Joshua (Joshua 1:9)

David (2 Samuel 7:3)

Matthew 1:18–24

18a This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…

God is with us in the

18 His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 

God is with us in the and the

19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

God is with us in the

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 

God is with us in the

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

God is with us in

22 All this took place to fulfill…

God is with us in the

…what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

God is !

24a When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him… 

God is with us in the

Small Group Questions

  • What do you love about Christmas? What do you not love about Christmas?
  • Read Matthew 1:18-25 out loud. What strikes you about the birth of Jesus told from Matthew’s perspective?
  • God was with Mary and Joseph in the history, confusion, mystery, scrutiny, fear, salvation, details, and obedience. Which of these can you most relate to in your life right now? Why?
  • In 2 Samuel 7:3, the prophet Nathan told David, “Do whatever you have in mind, the Lord is with you.” What has God laid on your heart to do this Christmas? What is standing in the way of that, and how can you overcome any fear to be obedient to God’s call?
  • Do you know of anyone who was affected by the flooding? How can you reach out and encourage them right now?
  • How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

A friend of God 

How to remain:  and 

A friend of God .

“Delayed obedience is disobedience.” – Rick Warren

A friend of God is .

A friend of God .

John 15:5–6 
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”


Small Group Questions

  1. Who was your best friend growing up? 
  2. What do you consider an important attribute of a friend? Share a quick story of why it’s important. 
  3. Read John 15:9-17. What does Jesus consider as attributes of a friend? 
  4. What has helped you experience friendship with God? Are you able to receive that name?
  5. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


The idea of Division Over Peace culminates in the because:

  1. The resurrection justifies the claims of Jesus. 
  2. The resurrection fully reveals what it means to bring


Mary’s journey of grief and joy are an example of the and that Jesus’s resurrection brings.

The resurrection is because it is difficult to believe that resurrection and hope are possible when we see

Jesus’s resurrection makes it clear that our lives on earth still have a even though we will die. 

Jesus claims to be  

Jesus cannot be simply . I must reject him or of my life.

Why can’t I just like Jesus? 

The depth of evil is it requires an unending source of to overcome it. 

  1. I must become I long to see in the world. 

To be a Christian is to have that, while there is a myriad of evidence to the contrary, Jesus’s Kingdom and his way is God’s

Because , we can trust that as we follow him we will begin to experience the .

Acts 1:1-11
In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
6 So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
       9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Luke 24:50-53
50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. 53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Before Jesus leaves…

  1. He what he practices and what he preaches (vs. 1)
  2. He his resurrection (vs. 3)
  3. He his witnesses (vs. 8)

You have been named .

What kind of witness will you be?


4. Jesus gives his witnesses three gifts that we still have today!

A (Luke 24:50)

A (Acts 1:8 and 1:11)

A (Acts 1:8)

Key Truth
Looking up and moving out are not the !

Essential Truth
To live as God’s witness, you must and .

Small Group Questions

  1. Did you experience any ups and downs this week? Share what happened and how you handled the highs and lows.
  2. Read Acts 1 out loud. What strikes you about the disciples’ response to Jesus leaving?
  3. What do you learn about Jesus in his final words to his followers?
  4. Have you ever been called to testify in a courtroom? What happened? From the list in this outline, what kind of witness best describes your walk with Jesus today?
  5. How can you balance looking up and moving out this week?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


1 John 3:1a
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

God is a father who his kids.

Matthew 3:16-17
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

God is a father who his kids.

Mark 10:13-16 (THE MESSAGE)
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them.

God is a father who is with his kids.

Luke 15:28-31
        28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
        31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’”

“When every person in every situation in every day of our lives treats us on the basis of how we look, act, and perform, it is difficult not to project that onto God.”

– James Smith, The Good and Beautiful God

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 

God is a father who in his kids.

Small Group Questions

  1. What’s your most embarrassing memory from childhood?
  2. Is the name “Child of God” an easy or a challenging name for you to put on? Why or why not?
  3. Why do you think Jesus was so persistent about teaching us that God is a father?
  4. Have you ever struggled with trying to earn God’s love or blessing? Does knowing that God is a father help you better receive his love? Why or why not?
  5. What’s one thing you can do this week to remind yourself that you are a child of God?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


God says we are his instruments.

The Overture ROMANS 6:13-14
Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.

God’s instruments are…

In “rather offer yourselves”

In “to God”

In “as an instrument”

In “under grace”

The Prelude
2 TIMOTHY 2:14-19


Start wielding the with

Stop talking about

The Interlude
2 TIMOTHY 2:19-21
       19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
       20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

God doesn’t break things so He can fix them;
He fixes broken things so He can use them.

– Bob Goff, Author

The Postlude 2 TIMOTHY 2:22-26

Run toward righteousness, faith, love, and peace

Run away from stupid arguments

Be kind, be patient, and don’t get bitter


Small Group Questions

  1. Did you take music lessons of any kind in your lifetime? Was it a good or bad experience?
  2. What kind of music speaks to your soul?
  3. Read the scriptures in this outline out loud. What is God speaking to you right now that needs to be shared with the group or written in a journal?
  4. How has God used you for his purpose in the past? What would you like to be used for in the future for his glory?
  5. Read the scripture for The Postlude above. How can you apply this scripture this coming week?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


There’s a town in Wales named

The name means…
The Church of St. Mary in a hollow of white hazel,
near to the rapid whirlpool and to St. Tisilio Church,
near to a red cave.

When God changes a name, the change is grounded in a new season, a new character quality, a new direction, or a new relationship.

  • Abram (exalted father) — to Abraham (father of a multitude of many nations)
  • Jacob (caught by the heel) — to Israel (God will prevail / he struggles with God / God perseveres)
  • Jedediah (beloved of God) — to Solomon (man of peace)
  • Sarai (argumentative princess) — to Sarah (my princess)
  • Sau (prayed for; to inquire) — to Paul (small/humble)
  • Simon (to listen or be heard) — to Peter (the rock)
  • Joseph (He will add) — to Barnabas (son of encouragement)

As a follower of Jesus, I am constantly laying down old names and labels. I am also receiving new names and a biblical identity that are gifts from Jesus. I enter this exchange with the promise that one day, Jesus will give me a .


Revelation 2 and 3 are both and .

The name attached to an indictment is .


“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches. To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it. – Revelation 2:17


The Significance of a White Stone

A symbol of (with your name on it!)

Embedded within the acquittal are some beautiful promises of God.

All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. – Revelation 3:12

God’s Gift of a New Name

  • A new name known only to you (Revelation 2:17) — a name
  • The name of Jesus — a name
  • Jesus’ new name — a name

Small Group Questions

  1. If you could change your name to a different one, would you? To what name, and why? (I love my name, but I always wanted to be known by initials like JT or RJ. GE just doesn’t work unless you are an appliance company!)
  2. Do you know the meaning of your name? What does the meaning mean to you?
  3. Read the passages in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3 again. What does the promise of a new name and acquittal change about the way you will live today?
  4. What has been your biggest spiritual challenge regarding the new names God wants to give you?
  5. God identifies the power in a name — personal, powerful, prevailing. Which “p” word do you need from God right now?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?


2 Corinthians 5:18-20
       18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

To embrace the name Ambassadors of Reconciliation, we must be…

Reconciled to (Genesis 39:21)

Reconciled to (Genesis 41:52)

Reconciled to (Genesis 45:1-7)

…in that order.

A Model of Reconciliation  GENESIS 45:1-8
       Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
       3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
       4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
       8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.

The Right Path of Reconciliation

1. Right

2. Right

3. Right

4. Right

5. Right

6. Right

7. Right

8. Right

9. Right

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good
to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
Genesis 50:20

Key Truth

You are to the ministry of reconciliation.
You are not responsible for the .

Small Group Questions

  1. What are your plans for Thanksgiving? It’s just one month away!
  2. Grant told us the elk story. Have you ever carried around a burden that needed to be cut loose? What happened when it was finally gone?
  3. Why is being reconciled to God, self, and others important in the order God desires? Which of the three is the most difficult for you?
  4. Look again at the story of Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers. Are there any other “right” statements you would add?
  5. Has God shown you an area of your life that began with harm but is now being used for good? Can you share about it?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?

A of love
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17

The love of God is:


A of love

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13


A of love — I know cognitively that God loves me, but I have no idea how to be loved by Him.

Why do we deflect? We believe the love of God is .



A into the love of God

See, what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! – 1 John 3:1

A Confession

I am not what I do.
I am not what I have done.
I am not what people say about me.
I choose to be loved.
I am the beloved of God.
It’s who I am.
No one can take it from me.
I don’t have to worry.
I don’t have to hurry.
I belong to Jesus and that is enough.


Small Group Questions

  1. If you could change your first name, what would you choose as your name?
  2. Do you struggle with the word beloved? Why or why not?
  3. Is there an experience from your childhood that’s negatively framing the way you view your worth? What was it?
  4. Is there a part of your life that you hide from others? What would it feel like to be able to share that part of your life with a trusted friend?
  5. Read the confession again. What sticks out to you? What speaks to you?
  6. How can we pray for you right now and throughout the week?