It's Thursday, December 21, 2017.  In this familiar Christmas story, we see two very distinct responses to the birth of Jesus.  One group of men " journeyed from afar"  just to worship Him, while one man begins to hatch a plot to have Him killed!!!  Why did the birth of Jesus solicit such diverse views?  Does the "name of Jesus" still do this today?   Chris Adomanis

CONNECT
(Take time to write down responses to these questions or discuss in your group)
_ Have you ever really "gone out on a limb" for Jesus? (witnessing to a group of non-believing family members or close friends, making a life decision based  on a perceived word from God, etc...)  Did you find that your particular  "journey" worth it in the end?

PRAY
Heavenly Father, we exalt you for your incredible plan of redemption that you crafted before the creation of the world.  What other King would send His Son to die in the place of sworn enemies and wretched sinners just so we could be reconciled and have fellowship with You!!!  We echo with the angels of heaven, signing "Glory to God in the Highest"!!!   Amen.

DISCOVER  [Matthew 2:1-7]
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet:

6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall
come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”

7 Then Herod summoned the wise men secretly and ascertained from them what time the star had appeared.

+ WHAT is this passage saying and what do we learn? (Use these questions below each portion of text to clarify the main point)
_ What does the inclusion of the wise men, "who came from the east" in the Christmas story tell you about God?  
_ Why were Herod AND all of Jerusalem" troubled" by the proclamation made by the wise men?
_ Herod had to inquire about the prophecy surrounding the coming Messiah.  What does that tell you about what's going on in Israel at this time?  What does it tell you about Herod?
_ Wouldn't you think at least some of the chief priests and scribes were excited by the proclamation of the wise men?  Think about the reaction of some of the members of the Sanhedrin at the trial of Jesus 30+ years later.  

+ HOW am I compelled to confess sin and how does the gospel compel me to respond with a simple step of action/obedience?  (Here are some thoughts to discuss in break-outs) . 
_ Are there times when you are rather blasé in your worship of Jesus? Confess and repent to the Lord and He will forgive and refresh you!!!    

+ WHO are you walking with to discover or grow in Jesus and what is your next step with them, how can we help?
_ Who in your life TODAY is the Lord prompting you to share the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
_ Do you have someone in your life TODAY that challenges you (and you challenge back)  to be an effective witness for Christ?