- Describe a time when your life felt out of control (your example can be light-hearted or serious).
Read: Matthew 1:18-25
- Our concept of the Christmas story has become quite sanitized over the years that we often fail to grasp the human reality of it. What would Joseph’s reaction have been to learning that Mary was pregnant? How would you feel if you were in Joseph’s place?
- What do you think of Joseph’s plan (v.19)?
- What fear on Joseph’s part does the angel address (v.20-21)?
- What would it cost Joseph to go ahead and marry Mary?
- In our journey of faith, God will require risky, sometimes frightening obedience and devotion of us. Can you recall a time when you were certain that God was calling you toward that kind of obedience and devotion? How did you respond?
- How does the angel convince Joseph to go ahead with the marriage and become the adoptive father of Jesus? What is the significance of the angel telling Joseph what to name the child and how does the child’s name indicate the significance of the child’s birth (v.21)?
- What’s important about Matthew quoting Isaiah 7:14 (v.22-23)?
- Apart from fulfilling prophecy, why was Jesus’ virgin birth necessary?
- Look again at v.24-25. What effect did the angel’s message have on Joseph? Do you think Joseph’s obedience to God came easy after the angel’s visit? How did it remain costly? What sacrifices was Joseph now willing to make, and what do you think motivated them?
- How have you experienced Jesus as “Immanuel” in your life?
- What do you learn about obedience and devotion to God from Joseph? How can you put that into play in your life this week?
- When was your last vacation? Where did you go? What did you do? Was it relaxing?
- What do you usually do to relax and recharge?
Read Mark 1:1-11
John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin born a few months before Jesus. His ministry was to get people ready for the greatest moment in world history: Jesus’ ministry, His death and resurrection.
- How does John seek to prepare the people for Jesus’ arrival? (v.1-8)
- In this opening passage, Mark wants us to sense the shock of the new thing God was doing. The people needed to be woken up. In what ways are we asleep today in our communities, churches or our personal lives?
- What significance does baptism have when you think about the fact that the people of Israel entered the promised land by going through the Jordan river?
- John called the people of Israel to give evidence of their repentance by being baptized. It’s the only way to be ready for Jesus’ kingdom to come. What do we as Christians have to repent of today in order for God to do a new work? What do you personally need to repent of?
- What God said to Jesus on that day (v.11) is what He also says to those who are “in Christ,” meaning His followers. What is the significance of hearing God say to you, “You are my dear child; I’m delighted with you”?
1. What does the Advent season mean to you? Do you observe special traditions?
2. What was your most memorable Advent?
Read Luke 21:20-28
3. Jesus predicts troublesome times for the people of Israel and Jerusalem by employing OT imagery (see Isaiah 13:9-10; 24:18-20; 34:4; Ezekiel 32:7-8; Joel 2:1, 30-31; 3:15). He is pointing to the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 70 AD. How does Jesus describe the time?
4. In v.27-28 Jesus points his listeners to a prophecy of Daniel (see Daniel 7:13-14). What exactly did Daniel see? How and when was this prophecy fulfilled (compare to Matthew 28:18)
Read Luke 21:29-36
5. How are Jesus’ followers to prepare for the upcoming crisis? What will provide them strength and comfort?
6. If you are faced with a crisis what advice and comfort can you take out of this text?