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Daily Readings & Group Questions: December 1 – 7 This Week’s Passage: Matthew 1:18-25

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV, 2011)
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Daily Reflection: Monday, December 2
Read verse 18-19 above, and then answer these questions: 1. In Joseph’s religious culture, a marriage engagement was a formal, even legal agreement between families. What pressure did Joseph feel as a result of these religious and cultural expectations? 2. What does Joseph’s decision say about his character and integrity? Prayer Thought Dear God, help me today with those hard decisions, where the way forward may seem dark and difficult.

© 2013 Bethany Church, Greenland, NH; Raymond, NH

www.bethanychurch.com

AD, Daily Readings & Group Questions, December 1-7, Page 2

Daily Reflection: Tuesday, December 3
Read verse 20, above, and then answer the following questions: 1. In simple words, what was the angel asking Joseph to believe? 2. If you were in Joseph’s place, how likely would you have been to accept the truth of the angel’s message? Prayer Thought Dear God, help me to hear Your Word clearly, knowing full well that it will challenge my current views and perspectives.

Daily Reflection: Wednesday, December 4
Read verse 21, above, and then answer the following questions: 1. In the original language of the New Testament, the name, “Jesus” means “Savior”. The angel now proclaimed to Joseph another astounding truth. Not only was Mary’s son divinely conceived. He would also become the Savior of God’s people. What kind of faith would allow Joseph to believe this message? 2. What sort of “impossible” things does your faith challenge you to believe? Prayer Thought Dear God, your Truth far surpasses my understanding, but help me to understand just enough to believe.

© 2013 Bethany Church, Greenland, NH; Raymond, NH

www.bethanychurch.com

AD, Daily Readings & Group Questions, December 1-7, Page 3

Daily Reflection: Thursday, December 5
Read verse 22-23, above, and then answer the following questions: 1. In this passage, the angel quotes from Isaiah 7:14. Take some time to read chapters Isaiah 7 – 8. Describe the story in those two chapters. How does that story compare with this story in the gospel of Matthew? (Hint: The name, “Immanuel,” is significant. The statement in Isaiah 8:18 may also provide a clue as to how Isaiah’s story sheds light on this story in the Gospel.) 2. What difference does it make that God began to reveal the coming of this Savior so many centuries before the birth of Jesus? Prayer Thought Dear God, how magnificent are Your ways, that you would weave this sacred thread of salvation through such a long and rich history of human experience.

Daily Reflection: Friday, December 6
Read verses 24-25, and then answer the following questions: 1. How did Joseph put his faith into action? 2. What views or perspectives in your life may be holding you back from truly hearing and obeying God’s will? Prayer Thought Dear God, please help me not just to hear and understand, but also to obey Your Word.

Group Questions
1. Describe the challenge that Joseph faced. 2. How did Joseph’s cultural and religious background influence the way that he handled this challenge? 3. Why would the angel point to God’s historic promise to save and restore His people? 4. What is the significance of the two names, “Jesus” and Immanuel”, given to Mary’s Son in this passage? 5. How did Joseph put his faith into action? 6. How can our current culture present challenges to our faith in God’s Word to us? 7. How can God’s historic promises encourage us to respond to Him with faith and obedience?

© 2013 Bethany Church, Greenland, NH; Raymond, NH

www.bethanychurch.com