Waiting on the Lord

Read Together: Psalm 130   

We wait for a lot of things in life. As children, we wait eagerly for Christmas morning. We wait for that special package to be delivered. We wait for that big day marked on our calendar. Waiting is part of life, even in our time where so much is instantaneous. More than that, as we considered on Sunday, waiting is an important posture of the Christian life.

In the psalms, we see David and other psalmists express their faith in the Lord through a posture of waiting. We see this in Psalm 130 where the psalmist repeats this idea of waiting for the Lord, closely connected to the idea of hoping in the Lord and his Word. In the context of this psalm, waiting for the Lord has to do with hoping in his forgiveness and salvation as we are confronted with our sin.

The Christian life requires patience and waiting. We are those who wait and rely on the Lord. With him there is forgiveness (v. 4), steadfast love, and full redemption (v. 7). In turning away from sin to God, we become those who wait for Jesus to come again and bring final deliverance, complete redemption (1 Thess 1:9–10). This is our blessed hope, the chief thing we wait for (Titus 2:13; cf. 1 Cor 1:7).

Discussion Questions

  1. What (or who) is the psalmist waiting for?
  2. Why is waiting an important posture of the Christian life?
  3. What are some ways we can actively demonstrate that we are waiting on the Lord?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read Luke 2:22–38 with your children (consider summarizing parts of the story for young children if needed). Draw their attention to two characters who were waiting for something: Simeon and Anna. Both of them, get to meet the infant Jesus and see him as what they were waiting for. We too are waiting for something big. Jesus is going to come again and undo all the bad things in the world.

Memorization: “I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.” (Psalm 130:5)

Song: Listen to “I Will Wait For You (Psalm 130)” (Shane & Shane).

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is the promise-keeping God! Our waiting is not in vain.
  • Confess before God that we are impatient sinners. If God kept a record of sins, we could not stand.
  • Give thanks to God that with him there is unfailing love and full redemption.
  • Pray that God would help us and direct us as we wait for our blessed hope.

Go Together

  • Waiting on God is not a passive posture. It is a waiting that arises out of confidence and faith in the Lord and his promises. It leads to a life lived in obedience to God, not a life of indecision. Discuss as a family one practical way you can express this posture of waiting this week. For example, those who are waiting for something often talk about what they are waiting for. As believers, we should talk often together and with unbelievers about what we are waiting for. So, one practical way we wait is spreading the message of the hope for which we wait.
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Doing God’s Will

Read Together: 1 Peter 4:1–2; 1 John 2:15–17  

We often want to know God’s will for our life. Yet, as Pastor Jerry reminded us this week, God’s general will for us is already written out. It can be known in the pages of Scripture. Throughout the Bible, we are called to be those who “do God’s will.” We often spend a lot of energy trying to find the divinely sanctioned answer to a certain (usually non-moral) decision when our focus would be better directed at doing what God has already clearly told us he wants from us.

As we see in passages like 1 Peter 4:1–2 and 1 John 2:15–17, doing God’s will means obeying his Word. Living for God’s will is the opposite of living for human passions. It’s the opposite of loving worldly things (i.e., sinful desires, pride in possessions, etc.). Doing God’s will is obedience to how God calls us to live.

This means that doing the will of God will sometimes run counter to our feelings. Doing God’s will will sometimes lead to suffering (1 Pet 4:1). We shouldn’t use the concept of God’s will to justify living for human passions and or always choosing the easiest option. Doing God’s will, obeying his Word, may involve hardship and risk. But as John tells us: “whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17)—because at the heart of doing God’s will is an abiding faith in Jesus, the one who is the source of all our life.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does it mean to “do God’s will”?
  2. What is the opposite of doing God’s will?
  3. How can we grow in our knowledge of God’s general will?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “The Way to Stay Free” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 92–95). This is the story of God giving Israel the 10 Commandments. Discuss with your children how God tells us the best way to live, and how it’s about following his will, not always what we want.

Memorization: “And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:17)

Song: Listen to “Take My Life and Let It Be” (Norton Hall Band). This is a powerful hymn about committing to submit to God’s will: “Take my will and make it thine/it shall be no longer mine.”

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is good and always delights in what is good and right.
  • Confess before God that we often follow our own feelings and desires and not his will.
  • Give thanks to God that he has made known to us his will and has given us access to his Word.
  • Pray that God would help us to do his will each day, starting with abiding in Jesus moment by moment.

Go Together

  • Think together about a recent (or current) decision you as a family or an individual have faced. Discuss how God’s general will might inform that decision and help you discern which option is best. Next time you face a decision, start by thinking in terms of God’s revealed will. Ask yourself and discuss with others: what option will best enable me to faithfully obey God’s Word? This should shift your decision making away from simply going with your feelings and toward faithful obedience instead.
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Jesus’ Priestly Prayer

Read Together: John 17:20–26

Essential to learning to pray is learning to intercede for one another. As Pastor Jerry reminded us on Sunday, all believers are called to a ministry of intercession—lifting up each other in prayer. Intercession is coming before God on behalf of someone else and asking God to meet their needs. Jesus himself gives us a prime example of intercession in his high priestly prayer recorded in John 17.

Notice three key elements of Jesus’ intercessory prayer. First, the foundation of Jesus’ prayer is a concern for the glory of God (17:1). Second, the heart of Jesus’ prayer for the church is that they would share a deep unity, rooted in their faith in Jesus (17:11, 21–23). Third, part of the purpose of this prayer is that the world might believe in Jesus through the unified witness of the church.

Jesus’ intercessory prayer is an example of the kind of central requests that should fill our own prayers for each other. However, Jesus’ prayer is so much more than an example to us. First and foremost, it is a prayer for us. Jesus is the great high priest of God’s people who even now continues to intercede for his church (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25).

When it comes to prayer, we all feel that we often come up short. Our prayers may drift into shallow selfishness. Busyness may drive us away from prayer instead of to prayer. Prosperity may produce prayerlessness. But may this feeling of inadequacy in prayer continually drive us back to Christ. He lived the perfect life that we fail to live. His death brings forgiveness for our failure to pray. And in his resurrection and ascension, he continues to intercede for you.  

Discussion Questions

  1. What is intercession and why is it an important element of prayer?
  2. What do we learn about intercessory prayer from Jesus’ prayer in John 17?
  3. How should the truth that Jesus continues to intercede for believers encourage us today?

Ideas for Younger Kids

·      Read John 17:20–26 with your children. Talk about how this passage of Scripture is a prayer that Jesus prayed for us. Jesus prays for believers. This is part of his ministry as our High Priest. Priests in the Old Testament were those who stood in between God and the rest of the people and offered sacrifices to God. Jesus is the better Priest who offered his life as a sacrifice for us and continues to pray for his people. He stands between God and us so that we might know God and be made right with God. And even now Jesus prays for us.

·      Consider learning the following catechism question with your children about Jesus as our High Priest. (This is Question 59 from A Catechism for Boys and Girls).

o   Q. Why is Christ a priest?

o   A. Because He died for our sins and prays to God for us.

Memorization: “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Song: Listen to “Before the Throne of God Above” (Sovereign Grace Music, feat. Kristyn Getty).

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he sent his Son to be our great High Priest.
  • Confess before God that our prayers often drift into shallow selfishness.
  • Give thanks to God that Jesus always lives to make intercession for his people (Heb 7:25) and that he shows us a better way to pray.
  • Pray that God would help us grow in the ministry of intercession, that we would daily lift up the needs of others for the glory of God, the unity of the church, and the reaching of the lost.

Go Together

  • Commit together to the ministry of interceding for others. Make it a daily discipline to pray for others. Take advantage of opportunities like our church’s prayer line ministry, prayer team ministry, and our weekly prayer gathering and resources like our missions prayer journal, www.blesseveryhome.com, and www.operationworld.org. 
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Godly Grief & Prayer

Read Together: Psalm 51

As Pastor Jerry observed in his sermon on Sunday, guilt can become a hindrance to prayer. It can make us feel like God doesn’t want to hear from us, and so we avoid God. Yet, there is a better response to our guilt. Our sense of guilt should lead to a godly sorrow for our sin, which should lead to more prayer, not less. True godly grief over sin leads to true confession and repentance, not just a feeling of remorse about our sin.1

David’s prayer in Psalm 51 is a classic prayer of confession that gives us a model of godly repentance. The background of this psalm is David’s heinous sins against Bathsheba and Uriah. Through the prophet Nathan, David has been awakened to repentance, and Psalm 51 provides a window into David’s confession before the Lord.

We learn several important lessons from this prayer. First, we learn that all sin is fundamentally committed against God (v. 4). Sin hinders our relationship with God, and all sin is rebellion against him. Second, we learn that our appeal for mercy should be based in God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy (vv.1–2). David does not appeal to his own works or future actions. He casts himself upon the gracious character of God.

Third, true repentance desires a restored relationship with God more than just the feeling of guilt to go away. David longs for the transformation of his heart as well as forgiveness (vv. 9–12). Guilt should not keep us from prayer. It should drive us to prayer! It should lead us to confess our sins as we trust that our God forgives sinners through the work of Jesus on the cross (see also 1 John 1:9–2:2).

Discussion Questions

  1. How is this psalm an example of godly sorrow over sin?
  2. What are some of the key lessons this psalm teaches us about repentance of sin?
  3. Why should guilt drive us to prayer instead of causing us to avoid prayer?

Ideas for Younger Kids

·      Read “David Sins . . . and Repents” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 152–55). Talk about how David looked to God for forgiveness of his sin. David sinned horribly, but his guilt led him to God to ask for God’s mercy. We, like David, are sinners, and when we sin, we must go to God and ask him to forgive us. And we can know that God will forgive us because that’s who God is and that’s why Jesus died.

·      Consider learning the following catechism question with your children about repentance and discuss what repentance means. (This is Question 50 from A Catechism for Boys and Girls).

o   Q. What is it to repent?

o   A. To be sorry for sin and to hate and forsake it, because it is displeasing to God.

Memorization: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

Song: Listen to “Psalm 51 (Wisdom in the Secret Heart)” (Shane and Shane).

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is the God of unfailing love and abundant mercy.
  • Confess before God that we have sinned against him and that our guilt has often led us to avoid prayer.
  • Give thanks to God that through Jesus he is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us!
  • Pray that God would help us to have godly sorrow over sin that drives us to prayer instead of causing us to avoid prayer. Pray that God would help us grasp that Christ’s work is enough.

Go Together

  • Spend a few moments together in a quiet space and examine yourselves personally and confess your sins before the Lord. If it is appropriate, confess your sins to one another as well. This can be part of a godly sorrow over sin that allows others to pray for you as you seek forgiveness before the Lord (see James 5:16 as a biblical precedent for this).


1Colin G. Kruse, 2 Corinthians: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC Vol. 8, p. 142.

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Praying with Faith

Read Together: Mark 11:12–14, 20–26

On Sunday, Pastor Jerry mentioned that one hindrance to prayer is the belief that “prayer doesn’t work for me.” This statement not only reveals a lack of faith, it also reveals a dangerous emphasis: prayer doesn’t work for me. Prayer and faith, as we saw on Sunday, are not ultimately about you. They are about the all-powerful, Sovereign God you’re trusting in and praying to.

This is part of what Jesus is driving at in Mark 11:20–26. Jesus launches off from Peter’s remark about the withered fig tree into a lesson on faith and prayer. He calls his disciples to “have faith in God” and pray with bold faith in the God who can move mountains.

So, while we can say that faith is powerful, the real power lies in the One we put our faith in: the Creator and King of the universe. He is the One who called mountains to spring forth by the power of his word and can dissolve them to dust with a word. What matters is that our faith is in God. Our faith is not in prayer, but our prayers should be filled with faith in our great God.

When this kind of faith fills our prayers, we learn to pray boldly according to the will of God. Maybe a reason we neglect to pray is because our hearts doubt that God will or can do great things. What we need is a deeper knowledge of God that drives us to our knees and builds up our faith in his power. We can pray for great things because we know a great God.  

Discussion Questions

  1. How does Jesus teach his disciples to pray in Mark 11:20–26?
  2. How can we learn to pray with faith?
  3. Is Jesus teaching here that God will give us whatever we want as long as we believe strongly enough? Why or why not?

Ideas for Younger Kids

·      Read “How to Pray” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (pages 222–27). Highlight for your children that prayer isn’t about fancy words. God doesn’t hear us because we know the right words. God hears our prayers because he loves us. So, we can pray with an attitude of faith that God loves us and answers our prayers. 

Memorization: “And Jesus answered them, ‘Have faith in God.’” (Mark 11:22)

Song: Listen to “By Faith” (Keith and Kristyn Getty). “By faith this mountain shall be moved/And the power of the gospel shall prevail/For we know in Christ all things are possible/For all who call upon His name!”

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is the all-powerful Creator and King and nothing is too difficult for him!
  • Confess before God our weak faith. We often pray small prayers because we lack faith in the power of God to do great things in our lives.
  • Give thanks to God that he does hear us, answer our prayers in ways that are for our good, and that he can do great things.
  • Pray that God would help us to know him more and give us a firmer trust in his power, character, and promises. Pray that God would help us in our unbelief and teach us to pray.

Go Together

  • Discuss together some of the common things you pray for. Consider whether these requests reveal faith in how you pray. Write down a bold prayer request that is God-exalting, gospel-centered, and biblically sound and commit to pray for it over the weeks to come, trusting not in the strength of your faith or prayers, but in the power of God. For example, pray with faith that God would move the mountain of unbelief (maybe through you) in the heart of a loved one, co-worker, or neighbor who doesn’t know Jesus.  
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Devoted to Prayer

Read Together: Acts 4:23–31

As we saw on Sunday morning, the first followers of Jesus devoted themselves to prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42). In Acts 4:23–31, we get to hear one of the prayers of the early church. This window into the prayer life of the earliest Christians can help form our own patterns of prayer as we seek to make it a priority in our lives.  

Acts 4:23–31 is the conclusion of a story that begins in Acts 3 when Peter and John (on their way to the temple to pray) heal a lame beggar. This miracle gives Peter a preaching opportunity which in turn leads to Peter and John being arrested by the religious authorities. Peter again speaks the gospel boldly, and they are released with a warning to stop preaching. They then report to the church what happened, and the church responds with prayer.

Notice three important elements about their prayer. First, they begin their prayer with a confession of who God is: the Sovereign Lord and Creator. Second, they pray the Bible, quoting from Psalm 2 in their prayer. Third, they pray with gospel priorities. Their main request is that God would help them continue to preach the gospel with boldness as he works miracles to accompany the Word. Verse 31 reveals that God answers their prayer: they do continue to proclaim the Word with boldness as those filled with the Holy Spirit.

As we kick-off our 21-Days of Prayer, we can learn a lot from this brief prayer. Let’s pray, individually and together, in a way that is God-exalting, biblically-saturated, and gospel-centered. Let’s devote ourselves to prayer and ask God to fill us afresh with his Spirit that we might live and speak boldly for Jesus.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the main request of the church’s prayer in Acts 4?
  2. How can this prayer inform our own prayer lives?
  3. How does this prayer challenge and encourage us to make prayer a priority?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read the prayer of the church in Acts 4:23–31 with your children (consider using a simpler translation like the NIrV to help with comphrension). If necessary, also summarize the prayer for them in your own words in a way they can understand. Ask your children: What are these Christians praying for? What does this tell us about how we should pray?

Memorization: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)

Song: Listen to “A Christian’s Daily Prayer” (Sovereign Grace Music). This is surely a gospel-centered prayer we can pray each day: “Let every effort of my life/Display the matchless worth of Christ/Make me a living sacrifice/Be glorified today.”

Pray Together

  • Praise God that he is our Creator and Lord and that no plot against Him can succeed!
  • Confess before God our tendency to fail to make prayer a priority.
  • Give thanks to God that he does invite us to pray and answer our prayers.
  • Pray that God would fill us with his Spirit and help us to pray according to his will each day.

Go Together

  • Set aside another time this week to pray with your family or another believer. Pray in light of the truths and requests we see in Acts 4. Seek to make regular prayer with other believers a priority as you seek to pray diligently with gospel-priorities.
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Read Together: Daniel 1

We are at the beginning of a new year, a time when many in our culture make resolutions to change areas of their lives. These new year’s resolutions often get a bad rap because they are usually temporary changes that fade early in the new year. But resolutions can be helpful when made humbly with reliance on God. Daniel makes such a resolution in Daniel 1.

Daniel’s resolution also connects well with what we saw in Romans 12 on Sunday. Daniel and his friends had been taken to Babylon as exiles. They faced an unknown future in a land far away from home. Yet, they resolve to remain faithful to the Lord no matter what in the place they are at.

They use the issue of food to show their dependence on the Lord. Daniel resolves not to be defiled by the king’s food (Daniel 1:8). While there is some debate about the exact reason for this resolution, it seems clear that it is a way these Jewish exiles seek to remain faithful to the Lord and show their dependence on him (not the king, from whose table the meat and wine came).

As those who live in uncertain days in a culture that is often hostile to our faith, we too must resolve to be faithful in the places God has placed us. By God’s strength, we can begin 2023 with confidence that he is Lord and with a humble dependence on him for all that we need.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is Daniel’s resolution?
  2. What does Daniel’s resolution teach us about how we should live in our own time?
  3. What are some ways we can remain faithful in the places God has placed us?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “The Fiery Furnace” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 232–37). Discuss the resolve of Daniel’s friends to stay faithful to God despite pressure from everyone else to disobey him.

Memorization: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

Song: Listen to “Christ the Sure and Steady Anchor” (Matt Boswell and Matt Papa). As we look to the future, we trust Christ as our anchor!

Pray Together

  • Praise God for another year and his faithfulness in 2022.
  • Confess before God our tendency to bend to pressure and get pulled away from our commitment to the Lord.
  • Give thanks to God that Jesus is our anchor through the storms of life.
  • Pray that God would give us the strength to stay faithful in the places he has placed us.

Go Together

  • One way we can remain faithful in spite of the pull of the world away from the Lord is by committing to daily time in prayer and reading God’s Word. Commit together to start this year in the Word and prayer individually and together. Make a plan for how you will spend time with the Lord as individuals and as a family or with other believers. Be sure to pick up copies of this year’s 21 Days of Prayer devotional as a way to kick-start your year in God’s Word.
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A Christmas Mystery

Read Together: Hebrews 1

Christmas day has now come and gone, but holiday season or not, it is always beneficial to reflect on the truths we celebrate at Christmas. I think we all would agree that the incarnation of Jesus is central to our faith through every season. This is the amazing truth that the baby in the manger that we’ve sung about, read about, and seen represented in nativity sets over the past few weeks is God’s Son.

Yet, the inevitable question arises: how could God the Son become a man? This question gets at the mystery of Christmas. It is a mystery that is so deep, we will never be able to reach the bottom of it. The baby in the manger, human through-and-through and needing to be sustained by Mary, was at the same time the radiance of the glory of God and the one who sustains the universe. He is the One superior to the angels, the One whom angels heralded. He is the Word, the revelation from God and the One who fulfills the revelations given through the prophets. He added to himself the nature of creation, though he is the Creator.

The proper response to this Christmas mystery is to fall on our knees in wonder and exceeding joy. In our finitude, we may never fully understand how these things work, but like children who know little of astronomy still gaze with wonder at the night sky, so we should gaze with joyful wonder at the incredible truth that God became a man. And so, as our calendars move on from the Christmas season and turn the page to a new year, let’s seek to enter 2023 with the awe and joy fitting of those who belong to Emmanuel, God with us.

Discussion Questions

  1. What does Hebrews 1 teach us about Jesus?
  2. How does the mystery of the incarnation push us to joy?
  3. What are some other ways we should respond to these truths about Jesus?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “The Light of the Whole World” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (pages 184–91).
  • Discuss the following question: “Who is Jesus?” Talk about how Jesus is God’s Son. He is fully God and fully human at the same time. This is something that is really hard to understand, but it is what our faith in God is all about.

Memorization: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3a)

Song: Listen to “Who Would Have Dreamed” (Sovereign Grace Music). Much of this song is a reflection on the mystery of Christmas: “But the Sovereign of all looked helpless and small/As God gave the world His own Son”.

Pray Together

  • Praise God for the depths of his wisdom in sending his Son to take on a human nature and dwell among us, even though we cannot fully comprehend all the details of how God could become man.
  • Confess before God our lack of wonder and joy at the mystery of Christmas, the incarnation of God the Son.
  • Give thanks to God for the cleansing from sin we have through the work of Jesus.
  • Pray that as we enter 2023, we would do so with wonder and joy at who Jesus is and what he has done.

Go Together

  • As we enter a new year, sit down together and look back and reflect on 2022. List all the things you thank God for. Commit together to enter 2023 with thanksgiving for what God has done and with faith in the reality that God the Son is even now sustaining our crazy world by his powerful word—and he is coming soon.
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Silent Night

Read Together: Luke 2:1–20

We have all read or heard the Christmas story many times over the years, and we sing about it each year in many of the traditional Christmas carols. Many of these carols have become so familiar that we often gloss over the actual lyrics in favor of the sentimental feelings they give us. But Christmas is not about sentimentality or nostalgia. It’s about the “good news of great joy” that “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” has been born (Luke 2:10–11). And many of the Christmas carols we listen to and sing capture this good news in different ways.

One such Christmas carol is “Silent Night.” As with other Christmas songs, we might quibble over some of the details of this classic hymn, like: was the night really silent? Did “radiant beams” literally shine forth from the infant Jesus’ face? And while there may be a place for these criticisms, they miss the point of the song. The night Jesus was born was silent in the sense that it was just an ordinary night to the rest of the world. Jesus is indeed “love’s pure light,” the light of the world.

With Jesus’ birth came the “dawn of redeeming grace.” Jesus’ birth was the dawn of his work of redeeming us from sin by his grace. For he is the Messiah, the Savior who brings peace to God’s people. And even at his birth, he is Lord, worthy of all our worship and devotion.

Loaded into this classic Christmas carol is the good news of Christmas. So, as we listen to and sing Christmas carols like “Silent Night” during this season, let’s reflect on what they’re actually saying and rejoice in the good news that Christ, the Savior is born!

Discussion Questions

  1. How is the birth of Jesus good news of great joy (Luke 2:10)?
  2. Read or listen to the lyrics of “Silent Night.” How does this classic Christmas carol capture the good news of Christmas?
  3. How should we respond to this good news of great joy?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “He’s Here!” in The Jesus Storybook Bible (pages 176–83).
  • Ask your children: What’s your favorite Christmas carol/song? Talk about Christmas songs and highlight ones that communicate the good news of Christmas.

Memorization: “And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’” (Luke 2:10–11)

Song: Listen to “Silent Night” (performed by Shane and Shane).

Pray Together

  • Praise God for his love and grace revealed in the Christmas story!
  • Confess before God that we are often distracted during this season from the significance of Christ’s coming.
  • Give thanks to God that Jesus has come as the “dawn of redeeming grace.”
  • Pray that God would fill us with great joy in Christ because of what he has done and that we would be ready and willing to share this good news of great joy with others.

Go Together

  • Make a plan this week to set aside some time on Christmas day to read, listen to, and reflect on the good news of great joy that Christmas is all about. Read the Christmas story in Matthew 1–2 and Luke 1–2 or reflect on the coming of Jesus by reading John 1:1–18 or Hebrews 1. We also encourage you to attend our worship service on Christmas day at 9:45 AM. Don’t let the day pass quickly by without quieting your hearts before God and praising him for his indescribable gift of his Son.   
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The Christmas Spirit

Read Together: Genesis 12:1–9

On Sunday morning, we reflected on the role of Joseph in the Christmas story, and one thing we noted was Joseph’s obedience to God’s commands (Matt 1:24). One aspect of Joseph’s legacy is to remind us that the Christmas story calls us to commitment to God no matter the cost. We could even say that the spirit of Christmas includes a spirit of faith in God’s promises that leads to obedience to his commands.

Joseph is really following in the footsteps of others we see throughout Scripture who trust God’s promises and obey his Word no matter the cost. Abraham is prime example of this pattern. The Lord called Abram to leave his homeland and go to another land he would show him. This command was founded on powerful promises: God would richly bless Abram and his descendants, and through Abram’s offspring would come worldwide blessing (Gen 12:1–3). Abram believed God and obeyed. He left his homeland and went to live in Canaan.

We know that Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of these promises to Abraham (Gal 3:7–9). At Christmas, we celebrate the coming of God the Son into the world as the one who makes these promises come true. And our response to these promises should be faith in Jesus that leads to obedience to his Word. The true Christmas spirit is not merely warm, fuzzy, festive feelings. The true Christmas spirit is founded on faith in the promise-keeping God that produces joyful obedience to his Word—no matter the cost.    

Discussion Questions

  1. How did Abram respond to God’s instructions?
  2. What did God promise Abram? How does Jesus make these promises come true?
  3. What should our response be to God’s promises and God’s commands?

Ideas for Younger Kids

  • Read “The Father of Nations” in The Biggest Story Bible Storybook (pages 48–53) and ask your children some of the discussion questions above (paraphrasing them as necessary).
  • Ask your children: “What is Christmas all about?” Discuss that, in one sense, Christmas is about God keeping his promise to rescue us from sin and bring us true life and that Jesus is the one who makes these promises come true. Consider also discussing what a promise is and how we should respond to God’s promises.

Memorization: “The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God.” (Galatians 3:7 NLT)

Song: Listen to “Emmanuel (Every Promise Yes in Him)” (Caroline Cobb). This is an excellent song about how Jesus makes all of God’s promises come true.

Pray Together

  • Praise God for Christ’s coming as Immanuel, the one who brings God’s promises to pass!
  • Confess before God our unbelief and the resulting failure to obey his Word.
  • Give thanks to God for his grace in healing our unbelief and disobedience through Jesus.
  • Pray that God would help us grow in the true Christmas spirit of faith in his promises resulting in joyful obedience to his Word.

Go Together

  • Take some time to discuss together the challenge Pastor Jerry gave at the end of his sermon on Sunday: are we willing to say to God: “Anywhere, Anytime, at Any Cost”? Ask yourselves: What are some areas of our lives we need to commit to God in faith and obedience?
If you have any questions, comments, or ideas related to this Family Faith Talk guide or future guides, please let us know by leaving a comment!