If you were to ask people to sum up the “Christmas Spirit” in one word, “hope” would certainly be among the favorite responses. This hope isn’t just modern sentiment born from our need. It was part of the Christmas story from the very beginning. The Christmas event was the fulfillment of hope for the Jewish people—a way to overcome the oppression of the Gentiles who had ruled them for centuries. But the irony is it was also the fulfillment of hope for the Gentile oppressors as well. The Christmas event was and is the introduction of hope for the entire world—a hope that God has something better in store for us than what we have made for ourselves.
THE CHRISTMAS WE FORGET - Hope study guide
With our focus on happiness and joy to the world, we forget that Christmas is ultimately about rescue. The Christmas story begins with the truth that God determined Jesus would be born, would live and grow into the man He was, and would give His life for us. This was God’s plan of rescue and He would not allow anything men did to derail His plan. His love for us was too strong, and His plan to rescue us was too important. The very end of the Christmas narrative is a reminder of this fact. God loved the world so much He made certain His plan of rescue would be carried out.
THE CHRISTMAS WE FORGET - Rescue study guide
For many of us, Christmas is about joy, smiling children, people giving grace to each other in the “spirit of Christmas”. But Christmas is—and always has been—also a time of darkness and despair. When we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus with the shepherds and animals giving Him glory, we often forget that what followed was the slaughter of any baby boys born in that area over a period of two years in an attempt to kill the baby we celebrate. In this slaughter humanity showed the depths of sin and darkness it is willing to embrace. But God didn’t allow the story to end there. In the Christmas event He took the darkness and He turned it into light. The very act of gift giving is a way of remembering the gift of light God gave the world.
THE CHRISTMAS WE FORGET - Out of the Darkness study guide
When He comes, everything will be made new. That includes us. How then should we live? As he ends the letter—his encouragement to “Remember”, he insures that we know how someone who will be living in this new world lives.
REMEMBER - Everything Is New study guide
It is popular for people to talk about the promises of God. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t really what God has said, but what people want Hm to say. But God has promised some very important things, and one of the most important of these is that Jesus will return. When? How? We don’t know, but we know He is coming, and that one fact gives Christians all around the world the encouragement to stay faithful.
REMEMBER - Where Is He study guide
It would be nice to be able to listen to anyone and believe them. But the truth is not everyone speaks the truth. Some fail to do so out of ignorance. Others knowingly out of various motivations. So what do we do, and what is God doing?
REMEMBER - Fake News study guide
Peter is one of the few—those remaining who were eye-witnesses of the ministry of Jesus. He claims the authority of one in this position, but also lets himself revel in the memory. Then he reminds the church of the nature of God’s words, where they come from, and why they should be listened to.
REMEMBER - Eye-Witnesses study guide
Peter knows his end is near, so he reminds the followers of Christ that there are eight qualities they can supply themselves, which will build their faith and relationship to Jesus. By supplying themselves with these things, they can avoid stumbling in their life—and faith.
REMEMBER - Don’t Trip study guide
The Apostle introduces himself and his letter by reminding Christians that we have been given everything we need to live—and to live loyally to the King. The prophets and the Apostles have given us insight into this life—and Peter insures we remember.
REMEMBER - Everything We Need study guide
Success is often measured by how many serve us rather than how many we serve. This is the world’s approach. But Jesus said very clearly we would not be like the world if we belong to Him. So, service becomes a simple expression of love and devotion from us to Him—regardless of whom we are serving.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - We Serve study guide
Christians forgive. We don’t just talk about it, we do it. We do it because we understand how much we have been forgiven—and that no ultimately no one has sinned worse than we have, when we understand that our sin caused the death of Jesus. But our forgiveness of others is related to our awareness and appreciation of our own forgiveness. It is essential for spiritual health that we understand the connection between these two.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - We Forgive study guide
Jesus said people would know we belong to Him because of our love for one another. Understandable when you remember that John said the very nature of God is love. Of course, that bets a question. What love? Whose definition of love? What exactly are we commanded to do? Whether our spouse, a neighbor, a friend or an enemy, this commands pretty much covers how we respond to everyone, so it is important for us to understand what Christians do when we say “we love”.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - We Love study guide
An important new update regarding leadership and Ministry for the NOCC Congregation.
Christians listen to God. We start with His Word, because that’s why He gave it to us. We listen through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and through the guidance of wise counsel reflecting the Word. This sounds simple—and it usually is. The complicated part is when we become doers of the Word, not just hearers.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - We Listen study guide
We have a King. What does that mean? It commands loyalty. If we can’t serve two masters, and Jesus is the master, then we serve Him. Not out of duty alone, but loyalty to the King. Loyalty beyond question or opinion—extreme, fierce loyalty.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - We Are Loyal study guide
The heritage of a culture is the richness of values, beliefs and behaviors which characterize that culture. For Christians, this means looking into the Word and understanding what God has already told us about belonging to Him. We have a heritage—that which is passed on to us as members of the Culture of Christ. We need to understand it, cherish it and live by it.
THE CULTURE OF CHRIST - Our True Heritage study guide
Traditionally, Labor Day in America is a time where workers get off from their usual job as a rewards for their year long daily grind. However, when it comes to Christ, our work is daily, and we must always be ready and willing to share the Gospel with those we encounter. It is our labor of love. For Labor Day weekend in 2018, we asked some guest speakers of the congregation to share with us on how their work and services has shaped their walk with Christ and with others who are seeking the Lord.
THERE IS NO STUDY GUIDE THIS WEEK
It’s not easy to forgive someone who has hurt us. But when we do something to hurt others, we want to be forgiven. And above all, we want God to forgive our sins. Does that just happen, or do we have something to do with forgiveness? Many have opinions on this, but the one whose opinion we need to know is the one whose forgiveness we seek. What has God said?
ANCIENT TWEETS - Forgiveness study guide
Friends are important to us. Casual friends, close friends, BFFs. Friends are not just important to us—they influence us. How many of us remember the peer pressure of adolescence? Of course peer pressure—and the need for peers—doesn’t change as we emerge from adolescence. We all have peers. The difference between adolescents and adults is we can do a better job of choosing our friends and governing our friendships?
ANCIENT TWEETS - Friends study guide