- Begin to practice our theme verse together as a group: Luke 2:10-11: “But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’”
- Share about a time when you felt anxious or afraid – whether recently or from your childhood. What caused you to feel that way? How did you deal with it?
- Read Luke 1:5-17: “In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.’”
- What questions or comments come to your mind when you read this passage?
- Notice in Luke 1:7, that Elizabeth was not able to conceive and that she and Zechariah were both very old at the time this took place. Talk about how they would have felt being childless, especially in that culture.
- Most people grow up with dreams and ideas of how they believe their life should go. And if a long time passes and their life circumstances haven’t worked out in line with those dreams, they may begin to fear that they’ve somehow “missed it” in life. Talk about some scenarios that might cause a person to feel that way.
- Read Proverbs 13:12a: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” Have you ever felt what the Psalmist is describing? If so, tell about that experience.
It’s never too late to follow
- Sometimes people assume that if their dreams aren’t coming true, it must be because they are doing something wrong. But Luke 1:6 helps us see that this is not necessarily true. If a person is living a righteous, godly life, why wouldn’t God necessarily give them everything they want?
- Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Church, said, “(I am) way more inspired by the people who have the kind of faith that endures a ‘no’ from God than those who claim their faith arm-twisted a ‘yes’ out of Him.” What was Andy’s point?
It’s never too late to pray
- We see from Luke 1:13 that Zechariah had kept praying for a child even after the two of them had grown very old. In Luke 18:1, Luke writes that, “Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Why does God sometimes take such a long time to answer our prayers?
It’s never too late for God to answer
- There are many stories in Scripture where God waited until a situation looked impossible before He worked it out. For example, the Apostle Paul said of Abraham and his wife Sarah in Romans 4:19-21: “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Tell about a time when you waited a long time for something. How did you feel when you finally received it?
It’s never too late to dream again
- You might feel like you’ve “missed it” in your life, because you really messed up and made a major mistake. If your life seems so broken that you fear it’s beyond repair, read Jeremiah 18:1-6: “This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 ‘Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.’ 3 So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. 4 But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 5 Then the word of the Lord came to me. 6 He said, ‘Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?’ declares the Lord. ‘Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.’” What does this metaphor of a potter who can take a messed up lump of clay and reshape it communicate to you?