Courage to change
Have you ever been surprised by something that changed your plans in a big way? How did you deal with the shock of the news or event?
Sometimes surprising circumstances can radically change our lives. Someone might get a dream-job offer before they finish their degree, forcing them to choose between a job and their education. Others may have to deal with a sudden injury or diagnosis of a disease, a breakup in a relationship, a move to a new location, an unexpected opportunity, or even meeting someone and falling in love. All of these things can reorient our plans and possibly lead us into a time of confusion and stress. Even good news can cause anxiety!
Have someone read Luke 1:13, Luke 1:30, Matthew 1:20 and Luke 2:10.
When we unpack the Christmas story, we should pay attention to the fact that the most frequent admonition given to the characters is “do not be afraid” or “fear not.” God loves to bring courage to his people.
Have someone read Matthew 1:19-20.
We might think that courageous people have no fear. But actually, the people exercising courage are afraid; they decide to face their fear and move forward.
Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is doing what God wants you to do in the midst of your fear, in spite of your fear. Throughout the Christmas story we see several ways Joseph demonstrated courage in the midst of fear.
He had the courage to make and keep commitments.
He had the courage to honor God with his sexuality.
He had the courage to handle what appeared to be betrayal with grace.
He had the courage to be generous in economic uncertainty.
He had the courage to fully engage with his child, to be there for his family.
Read over the list above and share one that requires more courage for you in this season of life.
Have someone read Luke 2:21-24.
Joseph honored and worshipped God with a sacrificial offering that was proportional to God’s blessing in his own life.
How have you seen God’s blessing your life when you’ve honored God with your tithe, even perhaps in the midst of hardship or doubts?
Sometimes, the things that God allows into our lives can cause us some confusion and difficulties, as we see with Joseph and Mary. But like them, we can trust that the Lord is with us in all our circumstances, even when life doesn’t seem to make sense. Because we know the Lord is with us, we can be courageous, calming our fears and doubts.
In what ways can you be more confident in God and His plan for your life?
Mary’s and Joseph’s lives were turned upside down, but each of them chose to move forward in faith.
When our lives are turned upside down, what are some ways we can find confidence and comfort that, in the end, our perseverance will be worth it?
Though listening to great talks or reading about courage is informative and inspiring, the only way to personally grow in courage with God is by our actions: to step forward, obeying and trusting Him and His love for us.
Have someone read Proverbs 3:5-6 and Philippians 4:6-7.
How can Joseph’s example help us to cope with fears and uncertainties in our own lives?
Share where you would like to have more courage this week.
Break into small groups and ask God to help those who live in fear. Pray that God will bring all of us more courage and confidence as we experience the wondrous benefits of approaching our lives with faith and as we contemplate the beauty of the gospel, God’s greatest gift to us.