Opening Questions and Prayer
Tell a brief story about a favorite Christmastime memory.
What are some ways people get caught up in the stuff surrounding Christmas, that they miss the true story of Christmas?
Ask the Lord to guide your time together and to help you to slow down during this season so you don’t miss Him.
Read Matthew 1:18-25
18 This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly.
20 As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: 23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
24 When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
How did Joseph almost miss what the Lord was doing?
Why did Joseph choose to obey God even when it was difficult?
What are some ways we might miss how the Lord is working in our lives?
How can you choose obedience to God’s calling even when it goes against your feelings and other people’s opinions?
Who can help you to stay on track with the Lord’s leading?
Read Isaiah 7:14
14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
What does this name tell us about the character of God?
When we realize God is always with us, how should that change your perspective?
Why do people sometimes view God as distant?
Who can you tell this week that God is near and wants a relationship with them?
Read Psalm 34:17-18
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
How did David, the shepherd, fugitive, king, experience Immanuel (God with us)?
How have you experienced God’s presence in your life?
Who do you know that may be brokenhearted during this season?
What can you do to help them experience “God with us”?
Read Luke 24:13-27
13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him.
17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”
They stopped short, sadness written across their faces. 18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”
19 “What things?” Jesus asked.
“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to rescue Israel. This all happened three days ago.
22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”
25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
How did Jesus’ followers, even the two walking beside Him, miss the Messiah?
When Jesus was born, how did people miss the Messiah?
What causes people to miss Jesus and His message of redemption today?
How does knowing the scriptures help us see how Jesus is working and moving in the world around us?
What can you do this week to, not just read the Bible more, but to use it as a tool to discover what Jesus is doing in your life and in the lives of others around you?
Who can help you with this?
Isaiah 7:14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Closing thoughts and prayer
It’s easy to get extra busy during this time of year. Finding perfect gifts, figuring out family gatherings (in person and virtual), traditions, Christmas movies, and much more can lead to holiday fatigue. You may get to the end of the day and have plans to do an advent devotional with your family, but then you’re too tired and the kids are fighting. We know deep down that Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, but sometimes our lives point to something else.
This week, take time to see how God is working. Joseph could have easily missed the birth of Jesus and the significance of that moment. However, he chose to lean into God’s message of redemption. Take time each day to do this. Don’t miss what God is doing. Spend time praying and asking for forgiveness for the times you’ve gotten too busy to make time for Jesus. Ask God to show you someone this week that needs to be reminded of Jesus’ forgiveness.