1. Read Matthew 1.18-25, and Luke 1.28-33. As you read the text, note what stands out to you, what speaks to you differently than the times you’ve read the Christmas story in the past?
2. As you reflect on the message from Sunday, what is most impactful?
3. The angel speaks to Mary and then Mary spends time in solitude with Elizabeth. Why is this dynamic important?
4. How does Mary respond to the news of the angel?
5. Matthew 1.18-25 characterizes Joseph as a “righteous” man. Spend a few moments studying the word righteous in Scripture. What does this characterization say about Joseph? How might the people in your sphere of influence characterize you? How often do you characterize people by their religious belief and behaviors? How do you characterize people by their lack of religious belief and behaviors or their failings in their relational beliefs and behaviors?
6. The angel instructs Joseph “not to be afraid.” Note some of the reasons Joseph may have been tempted to fear? In what circumstances do you find yourself most tempted to give in to fear?
7. Dallas Willard says, “Fear is the threat of evil winning.” Where do you fear evil is winning in your world? How are you finding comfort and strength His abiding peace?
8. After Joseph had made the decision to divorce Mary he was awakened to a new spiritual reality. When was the last time you were awakened to a new spiritual reality? How has that awakening been a catalyst for change in your most personal relationships?
9. When was the last time you sensed God changing a plan that you had made? Describe the tension in “knowing the will of God” vs. “doing the will of God.”
10. How often do you get disappointed when God doesn’t change circumstances? What is at the root of your disappointment?
11. Joseph chooses to live in this new spiritual reality. Yet, his reality is not easy. How does Joseph’s example encourage you?
12. In what ways are you tempted to want God to fix a circumstance rather than love you in the midst of the circumstance?
13. In the message on Sunday, three questions were posed. Reflect and respond to each.
What is God awakening you to today?
What choice or invitation is before you?
How might this Christmas be different if instead of looking for a fix you simply embraced His love?
14. The hard thing is often trusting God that He is using that which is most personal to you to transform you. How is He transforming you today?