READ Matthew 1
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do 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 as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)
The genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1 lists so many of the characters that we have read about so far in the Jesse tree. It shows the long list of descendants all the way from Abraham through to Jacob, Rahab, Ruth, Jesse, David, and Joseph.
In the story of Jesus' birth, Joseph plays a big part. Hes not as central to the narrative as Mary, yet we shouldn't overlook him. Joseph could have said, "No way! I'm not going to marry her anymore. Even though I love Mary, I want to have a normal life. I don't want to be the adoptive dad of the Son of God. That's weird. People will think I'm weird." But he didn't. Joseph said, "Yes, I'll marry her. I'll help raise the Son of God. I'll let people think I'm weird."
Joseph cared less about what other people thought and more about what God thought. He cared more about Mary and less about himself. And because of that, God gave him a pretty cool part in God’s story. God used Joseph to raise Jesus. Joseph got to teach Jesus how to use a hammer and build a chair, how to read the Bible, and how to love other people. Joseph got to be Jesus’ dad.
God, thank you for inviting Joseph into your story, and for the example, he sets for us. Help me think less about my reputation and more about following you and your good ways. Help me to be brave and strong to do your good in the world. Amen.
BLESS & DO
Add the next picture to your tree
Think about someone who has been a positive influence in your life and find a way to bless them.
The Story - Launch and Introduction
The Bible contains an Upper Story and a Lower Story. The Upper Story tells the big picture, the grand narrative of God seeking relationship with mankind as it unfolds throughout history. The Lower Story contains the details of particular people, and the episodes we’ve become familiar with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood, etc. This Upper Story is really a framework around which we approach and apply any one part of the Bible. It unifies God’s whole message to us and helps guide us through the hard times in life by doing two things:
a) reminding us of God’s eternal, long-range plan and,
b) putting our experiences into a divine context formed by a perfect Creator.
For example, without the “Upper Story”, a lost job could be seen as an event without hope. But put into the context of the larger chronicle of our lives, and God’s perfect design, that lost job can be seen in a very different light, perhaps as an opportunity for God to reveal something better. So, by putting all we read into the larger picture, we can make modern-day application from the Bible that takes into account the grand, mysterious ways of God, and guards us from misapplications that can result from an isolated “what this verse says to me” approach. In other words, the Upper Story creates the context for the Lower Story.
At Emmanuel, we are using The Story to help everyone gain a better understanding of the big picture of the Bible and to better understand God’s redemptive plan for us today. As we journey together through The Story we will take note of both the temporal events and characters (Lower Story), as well as the eternal purpose of God: to restore and build a relationship with His creation.
We invite you to join us as we dig in and explore The Story.
If you would like to join an explore group, contact Nathan Robertson, or one of the group leaders listed in this week's newsletter.
Chapter 1. The Beginning of Life as We Know it
Parent Tips: Use the Table Talk questions to start a discussion around the dinner table at some point this week. The Living Faith activity is designed to help your child know that God perfectly created them. The Extra Mile idea will help your family spread God’s love in the community.
Get the Point
Preschool: God made everything. He made me in His likeness.
Elementary: God made everything there is. He made me to know him.
Middle School: God made a perfect creation. We messed it up. Jesus offers us grace to fix that.
High School: God made a perfect and ordered creation. Man’s sin brought suffering to earth.
- If you could live a day as any animal, what animal would you be? What are some of the good and bad things about living as that animal?
- What are some ways people and animals are different?
- Are people or animals more important to God? Explain that people are worth way more than animals, because we’re the only part of Creation made in God’s image. We were made to have a relationship with God. Even Jesus said in Matthew 10:31 that we’re “worth more than many sparrows.”
- What are some things you really like about yourself? (Could be eyes, hair, clothes, sense of humor)
- Hollywood actors and models always talk about how they’d like to change their appearance, yet they’re considered the pretty people. Is there anything you’d change about yourself?
- Do you think God would change anything about you?
- Why do you think the culture is so consumed with looks and fame?
Spend a few moments one evening going on a family treasure hunt around your house. You can write your own clues or use the ones given. End your hunt at a mirror (either handheld or in a bathroom) so your family can discover God’s greatest creation—you!
CLUE CARDS are attached for you to print, cut and hide
For added emphasis on this week’s themes, try one of these activities.
1. Grab a family photo album that has some shots of you enjoying the outdoors. Talk about:
- What do you remember most about this experience?
- What are some of your favorite things about God’s creation?
- How can you see God’s handiwork in the outdoors?
- Where are some places you’d like to visit?
If the conversation leads, plan a fun family outing or your next family vacation.
2. Remind your children that all people are important to God by taking some food to a local food bank or going through your closets and making a donation to a homeless shelter. Remind your kids that helping the less fortunate shows them God’s love.
5 Simple Ways You Can Make This Lesson Stick - STEPHEN THE COMMITTED
IN THE CAR: Ask your child what they learned about this week on the drive home: Stephen loved Jesus and loved people; his love never wavered, even when the people got angry and killed him. Kids will learn that members of the Jesus League can persevere and do the right thing even when people don’t treat us the same way. Acts 6:8-15, 7:54-60, Stephen
HANGING OUT: Make this week’s lesson real: Share with your kids a time you struggled to love someone who was mean to you. How did you handle the situation? How could you have handled it differently, if it didn’t go so well?
AT DINNER: Here are some great discussion starters:-Who was Stephen?-Why did the religious leaders put Stephen on trial?-How did Stephen stay committed to Jesus?
AT BEDTIME: Quiz your child on this week’s memory verse: When anyone lives in Christ, the new creation has come. The old is gone! The new is here! - 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIRV)
PARENT TIME: What you need to know:
Pray for your kids to have a heart that is committed to loving others. Pray that God will help you to love others as well. If there are any co-workers you are struggling with, pray especially for them this week so God can make you a witness to them.