Christmas at The Cove
Part 1 – New Start
Do you ever feel like you need a reset button for your life? Christmas reminds us that our God is always doing something new. He sent His only Son as the ultimate new start for all who would believe in Him. Let’s press on and live in that place of new beginnings, looking towards the future and forgetting the past.
What you will need: A Bible or your Bible app, a notebook, pen, and highlighter. The verses highlighted below are linked so that you can easily access them during your study time.
1. Would you describe yourself as “Scrooge” or as a Christmas elf? Is everyone in your family (or office/apartment/dormitory) on the same page with you?
2. Be real about today. If anyone can speak to us about new beginnings, it’s Paul. Read the first phrase of Philippians 3:13. What do you think Paul means? What are some things he could have used to justify himself? What are some things that he might have regretted? How do you tend to justify yourself? To get a new start, we need to be vulnerable and admit our need. What is the next step for a new start? Would you be willing to tell us of your personal “new start” in Christ?
3. Focus on the victories of tomorrow; forget the failures of yesterday. Read Philippians 3:13 again. What are some things you tend to “rehash” about your past? (You don’t have to share but do take the time to consider these stumbling blocks.) Is God able to forgive and restore these mistakes? How easy is it to forgive yourself? What verses help you “forget what lies behind”? What action steps can you take? What hope does Jesus give you for the future?
4. Press on, because nothing else matters. Read Philippians 3:14 and Hebrews 12:2. For Paul, nothing else compares to the prize of being with Jesus. Who else went through “hell” because of trusting God? What reward did He receive? Even when you are tired, how can you “press on”?
5. Action Step: This week, are you willing to get down on your knees in prayer and say, “God, I need you”? Be specific about the need: marriage, career, your spiritual life, mental health, overcoming sin, relationships, finances, family. Then, 1) stop talking about your past; 2) stop thinking about your past; and 3) write down your dreams for tomorrow.
This week, we looked at Saul, who became Paul. Now look at Ananias of Damascus and how God used him to help Saul on his spiritual journey of discovering the Living God. God gave Ananias step-by-step directions. Let’s look deeper into each step. Discover how you will then take your next steps.
6. Read Acts 9:1-2. What were Christians know as at this time? What do you think is the origin of this name?
7. Describe the character of Ananias of Damascus. Read Acts 9:10-18, Acts 22:12-16, and 1 Corinthians 1:26-28. List adjectives you see from Scripture and things you infer from his responses, actions, and words to Saul.
8. Memorize. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV): “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”