Join us this Sunday! In-Person 9:00am & 10:45am, Online 9:00am, 10:45am & 5:00pm

Join us this Sunday! In-Person 9:00am & 10:45am, Online 9:00am, 10:45am & 5:00pm

Join us at the next Sunday worship service:
9:00am & 10:45am,
Online 9:00am, 10:45am & 5:00pm


Christmas Gifts: Jesus came to give awesome joy


Joy is one of the great blessings of Christmas. It shows up at Christmas services with beautiful music. Joy is in the giving and receiving of presents. Joy can be evident in reconnecting with family. True joy is not dependent on circumstances but is a gift from God, even when times are tough.

Bottom Line: Joy is a choice. 

Something To Talk About:

The emotion that ought to be deeply experienced during the Christmas season — and, in turn, displayed in our behavior — should be joy.

  1. When Mary was afraid, she chose to trust God and accept His plan: When Mary received the angel Gabriel’s message that she would conceive Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she was afraid. She knew her circumstances and the potential fallout of being a virgin and unwed mother. Luke 1:29 (NIV) says, “Mary was greatly troubled at his words,” referring to Gabriel. Despite her fears, uncertainties, and questions, Mary decided to trust God. She surrendered to God’s will. In Luke 1:38, Mary proclaims, “I am the Lord’s servant”  and tells Gabriel, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Mary’s desire to serve God and surrender was greater than her fears. Similar to Mary, we, too, have real fears in our lives when fulfilling God’s purposes. We often have more questions than answers. But we can learn and be inspired by Mary’s story. She leaned on God’s word and moved forward, trusting God’s leading and direction.  
  2. When Joseph was hurt He chose to offer grace and let it go: The Christmas story could have gone differently for Joseph. Think about it: God could have chosen to save Joseph from a lot of confusion and pain by telling him about Baby Jesus. Instead, Joseph has to learn the news from Mary and possibly think his fiancée’s been unfaithful to him. What is God doing here? He is testing Joseph’s character. He wants to see if Joseph will be compassionate, forgiving, and loving. Joseph had every reason to be hurt and wounded, but he didn’t attack Mary in his hurt. He offered her grace. Joseph doesn’t publicly embarrass her. He’s not trying to shame her. He says, “Okay. We’re going to call off the wedding.” Joseph is put in a difficult situation, but he chooses to do what he thinks would honor God, not yet understanding that the Heavenly Father had a bigger plan for Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus. We can learn from that lesson. You cannot be resentful and joyful at the same time. You’ve lost your joy because you’ve kept your resentment. You’re not going to change anything by holding on to your hurt. Don’t forgive because the other person deserves it. Forgive because it’s what God has done for you. Offer grace, and let the pain go.
  3. When the wise men were confused, they chose to follow God’s light one step at a time: You would imagine that following a star instead of a map would be very challenging. The wise men would not have been able to look at an overview of their journey ahead of time. No doubt they ran into some roadblocks and detours along the way. Many of us appreciate the sense of control that comes with following a map and knowing where we’re headed before we set out on a trip. Many of us have a map for our lives, a plan we follow that gives us a sense of direction and purpose. Unfortunately, life doesn’t often follow our plans, and we end up on detours that we hadn’t anticipated. It causes us to be confused, forces us to change our direction, and requires us to let go of our maps and plans. When these challenges redirect us from the path we had planned for ourselves, we are called to trust that God is still traveling with us on the detour. Perhaps we won’t be able to see the entire journey laid out before us, but we can trust that just as the wise men followed the light of the star one step at a time, there will be enough light for us to step out in faith, trusting that there will be enough light for each day.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why do you think God chose Mary?
  2. In Luke 1:38, we see Mary’s beautiful and godly submission to God. Despite the impending scandal and uncertain future because of her pregnancy before marriage, she willingly submits herself to the will of God. She trusted in God even when she couldn’t see how this would work out. What do you think helped Mary to respond with such faith and trust?
  3. How will Mary’s faith and submission to God help you trust and believe in God?
  4. What can you surmise about the faith of Joseph from Matthew 1:18-25? What does this tell you about His relationship with God?
  5. Compare Joseph’s story in Matthew 1:18-23 and Mary’s in Luke 1:26-38. What do you think they were feeling and thinking at that moment? What parts can you relate to in this season of your life?
  6. What would have happened had Joseph not chosen this route?  If he’d chosen the easy route—not believing the angel, didn’t marry Mary, cast her aside, and married a different girl. 
  7. What happens if you choose the easy life? You decide not to forgive. You choose not to sacrifice. 
  8. Did the sacrifices the wise men made to see the baby Jesus surprise you? What motivated the wise men to journey so far from home and refuse to be diverted from their mission? What does their story tell you about their faith?
  9. A star led the Wise Men to Jesus. What are various things in your life that lead you to Jesus?
  10. What was your main takeaway from this week’s message?

Take One Thing Home with You:

Joy echoes through every stage of the Christmas story: John the Baptist jumped for joy even in his mother’s womb: “When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy” (Luke 1:44). The angel announced joy to the shepherds: “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people” (Luke 2:10). The wise men were filled with joy: ”When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!” ( Matthew 2:10).