Small Group Questions

Away in a Manger 

Introduction:

Two-thousand years ago the angels made the amazing and life-changing proclamation to the earth that a Savior had been born. That blessed event was to bring the essential elements of peace, joy, and hope to all those who believed. Christmas is the celebration of our Savior’s birth and it is during this season we should be reminded that these essential elements remain in the hearts of those who believe. Christmas carols can bring peace, encourage joy, and ignite hope in your heart.

Something To Talk About: 

No Christmas song is more loved than this tender children’s carol, “Away in a Manger.” With its simply worded expression of love for the Lord Jesus and trust in His faithful care, the hymn appeals to young and old alike. It is usually one of the first Christmas songs learned. When you hear the song consider the following three points:   

  1. Have I accepted God’s gift of salvation? Salvation is something given freely by God rather than something we earn. Ephesians 2:8-9 contrasts salvation as a gift from God with human efforts when it teaches, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” This gift is found in Jesus. When we choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, we receive God’s forgiveness of our sins, and we surrender control of our lives to Jesus. What happens then is we begin a relationship with God that continues for the rest of our lives and into eternity. We are adopted into God’s family as His children, so we no longer fear God but instead run to Him as our Father. God welcomes us into His presence every day, and His Spirit lives inside us, empowering us to accomplish God’s work here on earth and teaching us more and more about our heavenly Father. The question is have you accepted the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus Christ? If you are uncertain, you can accept it right now. There is no special prayer you must pray to do so. All you must do is “…openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)  
  2. Have I submitted every area of my life to Jesus?  Once I have accepted God’s gift of salvation, we need to expose many areas of my life to His influence. When you invite Jesus into the home of your being (being born again), you are supposed to also give Him the run of the house (making Him Lord over your life). However, many of us are slow to do that completely. Whether we admit it or not, we hesitate to believe that God can be trusted with every area of our lives.  In most houses, there is a room that you don’t want people to see. It usually is a storage room that is cluttered with years of stuff that you no longer need but do not discard. These storage rooms are like the secret parts of our hearts. We keep those compartments hidden because we do not want to relinquish control of those areas. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we show Him the guest room that is organized, neat, and tidy. The problem was, God is not content to stay there. He kept knocking on one door after another until doors were opened and He had access to every room. He wants us to acknowledge Him as Lord over every area of our lives. And we find that God can redeem those rooms in our life that we thought were not redeemable. Will you choose to open up and share every part of yourself with Him and let Him reign in your life? Acknowledging God as Lord over every area of your life is an ongoing act of will.  
  3. Have I sacrificed my will for God’s will daily? After we have accepted God’s gift of salvation and submitted every area of our life to Jesus, it is essential that we constantly seek to know His will for our lives: to seek the answers to who we are, whose we are, and why we are here? …”We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.”  (Colossians 1:9) The one thing Paul asks for is that the Colossians might come to understand God’s will. This is the important thing to Paul. He knows that the chief aim of a believer’s life ought to be to know God’s will. Here is where we may not see the big picture. The will of God is not just an itinerary we must discover: where God wants us to go, and what God wants us to do. Knowing God’s will is also about knowing who we are and in whose you are. You no longer belong to yourself, so you are no longer to live for yourself. Your will, your pleasure, your comfort are no longer to be primary in your life, but what God calls you to be and what He has made you to be. The more you understand who you now are, and what God has done to make you that, the more your behavior will automatically change and align your life with God’s will. We can do that by reading and studying your Bible to discover how God looks at things. If you want to live within God’s will, learn spiritual wisdom, the wisdom of God. When Jesus comes into your life, a transformation takes place. If Jesus lives in you and you desire to know His will for you, the world should see on the outside of you a reflection of the new life that is inside of you. Seek God’s will today and every day.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is Away in a Manger one of your favorite Christmas carols? Why or why not? 
  2. Why did God allow for such a messy story to usher in the birth of Jesus? How would things be different if Jesus was born into a picture perfect scenario?
  3. Mary and Joseph were told that there was no room for them at the inn. Instead, Jesus would be born in a manger. Why do you think He orchestrated Jesus’ birth in the manger?
  4. Read Luke 2:4-7: The biblical picture of Jesus’ birthplace is one of poverty, stress, vulnerability, and rejection. The express purpose of this passage is to foreshadow so much that Jesus would go through. What are some of the events Jesus would later experience that echo these themes of struggle, strain, and rejection
  5. Jesus’ meekness appears to be weakness, yet is really the presence of power, but the choice not to use it. What strength of yours is preventing others from experiencing God’s love and truth through you? What will it mean for you to set that strength down this Christmas season? How will that allow others to experience Jesus through you?
  6. It is a short time after the death of their brother and husbands. Now, Rachel Saint, Marj Saint and Elisabeth Elliot find themselves ministering to the same people who killed their loved ones. Explain their actions in view of Philippians 3:13-14, Luke 6:27, 35 and Matthew 22:37-39.
  7. Christmas was never meant to be an event or a season, it was meant to be a gift. Agree or disagree and why?
  8. How effective are we at knowing God’s will for our lives? 

Take one thing home with you:

“Bless all the dear children in thy tender care And take us to heaven to live with thee there.” That is a line in the song, Away in a Manger. While the songwriter is probably referring to “bless” in the sense of conferring well-being or prosperity on someone, I find it fascinating that Jesus, as a sacrifice, brings peace and reconciliation with God and our fellow human beings through the cross. The songwriter asks Jesus to bless all His dear children, even the ones born in the muck of today’s “mangers.”  And He gives us hope for today and the assurance of life spent with Him in eternity.