9a. Give at least one fact from each of the following prophecies that was fulfilled in the birth of Christ.
Genesis 3:15--God promised a descendant who would crush the enemy's head. This promised deliverer would come through the woman. With the birth of Jesus, that promised offspring has finally arrived!
Genesis 49:8-12--Jacob blessed Judah and prophesied that Messiah would come through Judah's line. Verse 2 tells us that Jesus came in the flesh as a descendant of Judah.
Psalm 2:7--"I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become Your Father." This baby, Jesus, is the only begotten Son of the Most High God.
Isaiah 7:14--The virgin became pregnant. She bore a son, and he was given the name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6-7--The prophesied child is born! The given Son has arrived! The faith of many (like Simeon and Anna) has become sight.
9b. Which one of these prophecies does Matthew quote? Give verse in Matthew 1.
Verse 23 of Matthew 1 quotes Isaiah 7:14, "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means "God with us").
10a. How did Joseph prove his faith in God's word?
by action--When he woke up, Joseph DID what the angel had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
10b. Can you share with your group how you proved your faith in God's word at a time when your plan was not the same as God's plan?
I won't share the whole story here because it's rather long, but my trip to Honduras was the first thing that came to mind. I had recently entered the workforce after years of being a stay at home mom. Around that same time, my church was promoting their short term mission trips for the upcoming year. God stirred in my heart, and I knew it was His Spirit inviting me to say "yes" and take His love to the poorest of the poor in another country. I was so excited! But when I shared my heart with my husband, he forbid me from going. I was angry! Who is he to stand in the way of what God is asking me to do? Aren't I the one earning the money? Why shouldn't I put a little aside each paycheck to fulfill a dream and answer a call? I was not prepared to accept his "no." But as I prayed, I knew God was asking me to submit to my husband's "no." Finally, I gave in. I surrendered my will to God's and accepted that I would not be going on a mission trip anytime soon. But I was confused. Why would God give me the desire only to shut the door? It didn't make any sense. Still, I bent my knee. I prayed God would remove the desire, but He didn't. "Ok, God, you clearly have a plan. I don't understand it, but I'll play my part. I will carry this desire. I will be pregnant with this dream. I trust that in Your perfect timing, this yearning will be fulfilled....but I do want it to be Your will and Your way." I put the dream on the back burner and went about my daily life. Long story short, several months later, there was an opportunity through my employer to apply for a spot on a work-sponsored humanitarian mission to Honduras. I prayed, submitted my essay and waited. A short time later, I found out I had been selected to travel to Honduras and spend a week volunteering with a wonderful organization called Casa de Luz. Better yet, the trip was all expenses paid AND I was paid my regular salary for the week I was gone! Not only did I not have to pay, but they paid me! It was an amazing trip; I so knew God had gone before and orchestrated every single detail. When I returned home and checked my church's website, none of their short term mission trips traveled to Honduras. God knew what He was doing; Honduras is the country that has my heart, the people I fell in love with, the land that is my prayer burden. I am so thankful I waited on God's perfect plan and timing because He proved His greatness and faithfulness beyond anything I could ask, dream or imagine!
11. Try to put yourself in Mary's place and in Joseph's place.
a. How do you think their faith caused them to suffer?
I'm sure most people did not believe that Mary's child was the result of an Immaculate Conception. Logical, rational, thinking people would have had their doubts. I'm sure Mary and Joseph were the objects of gossip and scorn, looked down upon, judged harshly and unfairly, perhaps outright ostracized by some.
b. What do you think they gained through their faith?
Immediately, Matthew 5:10 came to mind. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven." What did they gain? Jesus became theirs. They received the incomparable riches of a personal, up-close relationship with God Incarnate... intimacy with the Divine. I just want to shout "Grace! Grace! Beautiful! Beautiful!" because the same invitation exists for me (and you) today. By grace through faith, God makes His home with me! God makes himself incarnate (not a flesh and blood incarnation, but "manifest" or "comprehensible") to me! This is great mystery, that the unknowable makes Himself knowable, and it's no less a miracle than the fact that God once walked our planet as a toddler!
c. How do their rewards encourage you to suffer for your faith?
My faith is not always rewarded in this life (at least not in tangible ways), but I can guarantee you that no one in Heaven is complaining about the raw deal they received here on earth. The glory that awaits us is such an all-surpassing glory that no earthly hardship can compare. Galatians 6:9 comes to mind: "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I know that when I suffer for my faith, I am only trading temporary comfort for eternal reward. I want to store my treasure up in Heaven, not on earth, for what I see (this world) is quickly perishing, but what I cannot see (the world to come) will never end!