Leaders Guide –Week of Dec 9, 2012
Looking Back: JOY… in the midst of disappointment (Matthew 1:18-24)
Icebreaker Activity: Children are often full of joy. Ask each person to share one thing they remember taking joy in as a kid. (Could be a favorite pet, activity, present, vacation, etc.)
·When you think about “joy,” what words would you use to describe it? How is it different from pleasure or happiness?
·Think about the various ways the Christmas season is celebrated around you. (Consider your own family, your church, your community, and the dominant culture.) What aspects or approaches tend to cultivate joy? What aspects or approaches tend to work against it?
·Read Matthew 1:18-24. In this passage Joseph learns that Mary’s baby is in fact Immanuel (“God-with-us”). Why did this discovery change his plans? In what ways do you think it enabled him to have joy?
·The fact that Jesus is Immanuel has some wonderful implications for us. The following three statements are true because God is with us:
1. God cares!
2. You are not alone.
3. Disappointment is temporary.
Which of these truths do you most need to remind yourself of these days? Why?
·Read John 15:8-11. Jesus tells His disciples that the key to joy is abiding in Him. What does this mean? How can we begin to do this more and more so that we experience the joy that is promised? (Try to get as specific and practical as possible in this discussion.)
Looking Ahead: PURPOSE… in the midst of unfulfillment (Luke 2:8-20)
Read Luke 2:8-20 and discuss the following questions:
·Trace the shepherds’ emotions throughout the passage. How were they feeling at the start? How were they feeling at the end?
·In what ways is the shepherd’s experience that night similar to the experience of anyone who has received Christ as Savior? (i.e. What do we have in common with the shepherds?)
·Imagine the shepherds’ lives after that first Christmas night. What might have been different? What might have stayed the same?
JOY…in the midst of disappointment Matthew 1:18-24
12.9.12 Rob Sweet, Teaching Pastor
The Source of Joy
God is both the ___________________ of joy and the ____________________
___________________________ of it.
The Reason for Joy
We rejoice because God is ________________ __________.
This means… God ____________________!
This means ...You are not ____________________.
This means...Disappointment is ______________________.
The Experience of Joy
We experience joy as we ________________ ________________
in God’s ________________________.
____________________ ________________ became flesh so that we could __________________ __________________ through Him.
JOY…in the midst of disappointment
We sing a lot about joy at Christmas time, and yet we place so many expectations on this season that it’s easy to be disappointed. For most of us, deep joy comes only in fits and spurts rather than being a defining characteristic of our lives. But the miracle of Christmas is that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” and now He invites us to dwell in Him. We are invited to know joy in deep and surprising ways as we live life in His presence.
THINKING IT THROUGH
The mystery of the humanity of Christ, that He sunk Himself into our flesh, is beyond all human understanding. ~Martin Luther
It is only in sorrow bad weather masters us; in joy we face the storm and defy it.
Joy is the serious business of Heaven.
WORKING IT OUT
· In what ways is life disappointing for you right now? How does remembering that Jesus is Immanuel (“God-with-us”) help your perspective?
· If joy is found most fully with God, then we must practice certain disciplines that make the presence of God tangible in our lives. Write down one thing you will do this week to “practice the presence.” (Use an idea from the message or come up with one of your own.)
PURPOSE...in the midst of unfulfillment
We are steeped in a cultural approach to the Christmas season that can be rich and engaging, but is more often conspicuously shallow and unfulfilling. This feeling of unfulfillment often characterizes our personal lives as well. We devote ourselves to “the pursuit of happiness” - but how fulfilling is that pursuit in the end? One of the reasons Jesus came to earth was to give us a purpose for living that is larger than us. In fact, it’s so big that it encompasses all of creation and stretches throughout eternity.
LOOKING IT UP
· Read Luke 2:8-20. What are some reasons God might have chosen to make an announcement of Jesus’ birth to a group of shepherds?
· What was the initial response of the shepherds to the angel’s appearance? (v. 9) Why?
· In verse 10 the angel references two emotions, one positive and one negative. What are they? What did the angel “bring” that was the key to transforming the negative emotion into the positive one?
· What is the significance of the reference to the City of David (v. 11)? (See Micah 5:2)
· In verse 14, a multitude of angels proclaimed the good news to the shepherds with two main ideas. What were they? Can you think of a connection between the two?
· What did the shepherds do next? Why might they have been in a hurry?
· After seeing the baby in Bethlehem, how do you think the shepherds felt? What did they do next? (v. 20) How hard would it have been to do that? How hard would it have been not to?
Posted on Sat, December 8, 2012
by Rob Sweet