Thursday, June 20, 2019

June 20 - 2 Corinthians 11

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 11. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Paul continues the defense of himself he started in Chapter 10.
  • Paul views himself as a kind of "spiritual father" to the Corinthians. He feels like it's his job to watch out for them, and he fears that they are being led astray. 
  • Paul compares the Corinthian Christians to an unfaithful bride, and then to Eve, from the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when she disobeys God and eats the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3). Just like Eve the Corinthians have been deceived and were following false teachers. They cared more about credentials, power, and eloquence than they did the real truth of God.
  • Paul "lowers" himself to boasting about his own credentials to make a point. He explains that he is full of knowledge, has never taken a penny from them, and that his suffering and weakness are proof that his life is truly lived for God. Paul is sharing what really proves he is a servant of Jesus.
  • Why did Paul resort to this kind of boasting? Because the Corinthians were being diverted from their sincere devotion to Christ and he was willing to do anything to help them. He wanted to show these "super apostles" for what they were, by explaining what truly reveals a person is serving God.
  • He makes a statement about Satan, stating that he “masquerades as an angel of light.” What Paul means is that the enemy often portrays himself as a messenger from God. He is a "wolf in sheep's clothing." This is why we must closely examine the ideas we hear and the teaching we receive, to make sure it really does align with the truth of God's Word as given to us in the Bible.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to know God's Word well enough that we recognize it if someone is trying to deceive us or lead us away from truth.
  • The good news of God is that we get to live life relying on His grace. His grace isn't only what gets us into Heaven in the future; it's what we rely on to get through everyday. That means instead of being ashamed of our weaknesses, or trying to hide or compensate for our weaknesses, we can be proud of and boast in them. Why? Because they force us to rely on God all the more.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • God cares about our heart's devotion to him more than eloquent words or fancy resumes. Satan will constantly try to distract us like Eve to shinier, prettier things, but we need to simply hold onto the Word of God and stay strong.
  • The fact that you're doing this Bible study today shows that you are committed to growing in your knowledge of God's Word. Way to go! This will help you to recognize what is not true, and to build your life on what is true. Keep reading the Bible every day!
  • Take joy in the fact that you have a God who loves you perfectly, and who is strong. His strength can come into your weaknesses, which means you can boast in your weaknesses.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

June 19 - 2 Corinthians 10

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 10. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Paul begins by reminding us that we are to live by a different standard than the world. We may live in the world, but we are not of the world, because we belong to God.
  • Paul equates this life to a war. He says that if we are in Christ we must fight against arguments and pretensions that go against God. This is a spiritual fight that defeats lies with the truth.
  • Paul then takes a bold turn and confronts his critics over the course of the next several chapters. Some troublemakers in Corinth were saying that Paul was unimpressive in person. They felt he should be a better professional speaker.  Paul reminds them that they are looking at the surface and not what really matters.
  • Paul declares that if we boast, it should only be about God.
  • Paul closes his argument by stating that the most important thing is the gospel (the good news that Jesus came for us and died for us to make us right with God and give us life with Him) and that it should be shared with more and more people.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God calls us to a higher standard of living. We need to replace spiritual lies with spiritual truth. We must first do that in our own lives and then we can help others do the same in their lives. This can only be accomplished if we know the word of God.
  • Paul says we are to "take captive every thought" and give it to Jesus. Our thoughts are very powerful. Oftentimes we think about things we shouldn't, things we might be embarrassed if someone knew. But in God we have power and so we have hope. We don't have to live like that anymore. We can give our dark and negative thoughts to Jesus. He wants to help.
  • Our goal should be for everyone to hear the gospel in a way they can understand and respond to.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What lies do you believe? 
    • Maybe you believe some lies about what will make you happy?
    • Or about what God is like?
    • Or about how to do relationships?
    • Or about the purpose of life?
    • Or about money?
    • The more we know the Bible, the more we can replace these lies with God's truth.
  • We all struggle with thoughts we wish we didn't have.
    • Maybe you struggle with thoughts of hate, anger, bitterness, self-loathing, or maybe it's sexual.
    • Have you ever realized you can give those thoughts to God so they no longer have power over you? Take a moment now and pray for help. He hears you.
  • What do you boast about? Your body? Your salary? Your house? Your new car?
    • God should be the only thing you want to brag about.
    • If that seems silly to you then maybe you need to spend more time with him. Take time this week to read the Bible, pray, or sing to God.
  • Our hearts should be like Paul. We should desire for everyone we know to hear the gospel.
    • Who can you share your heart with this week?

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

June 18 - 2 Corinthians 9

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 9. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Paul continues his thoughts from the previous chapter on the subject of money. Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were on the verge of starvation, and Paul knew that these Gentile Christians had an opportunity to reach out in compassion. Giving was a way to unify a growing and diverse church and meet a real physical need.
  • Paul then reminds them that he is sending Titus and others to retrieve the money they previously promised. He encourages them to prepare for this commitment ahead of time so they can give generously instead of begrudgingly.
  • Paul then stresses the importance of giving with a sense of joy instead of obligation. He shares a powerful promiseL If you give cheerfully to God, he will provide for your needs. He will give generously to you so you can continue to give generously.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We all know a principle from "Investment 101": Whatever you put into something you will get out of it. This principle applies with God as well. Paul chooses to illustrate that principle with an analogy from farming, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously," to show that reward is proportional to investment.
  • Giving is important, and our attitude in giving critical. Paul explains that we should give from a free and cheerful heart instead of from pressure or guilt.
  • Paul shows us some benefits of giving. If we are generous to God, he will be generous to us. In return, we should be even more generous. Why? Because giving helps supply the needs of people God loves and is a way to thank God for his love. Then, out of our generosity, those who receive it will give thanks to God as well. 
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In the Old Testament God gives ten percent as the minimum standard for giving back to God (see Malachi 3:9-10, Leviticus 27:30, Proverbs 3:9-10). But, we see in the New Testament a new standard. This new standard is one of "generosity." If we really love God and love people we will want to give as much as we can. We look for opportunities to give more. Giving is an act of gratitude.
    • Is this how you view your money?
    • Do you give to Verve?
    • Do you give to the homeless or a great program like Compassion International? 
    • If the answer is no, why not? What are your excuses? What is standing in the way?
    • If you do give, are you giving the "expected" 10%, or are you giving generously, as much as you are able?
    • Remember, if you give with an open hand and open heart, God will always supply your needs and take care of you. You have nothing to fear and will experience the incredible joy of giving what was never yours to begin with.

Monday, June 17, 2019

June 17 - 2 Corinthians 8

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 8. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Back at this time people sacrificed meat to idols (made up gods, often made of wood or stone). After being laid at the altar of the false god, the meat would then be sold in the market. Some Christians believed that it was not to be eaten because it had been used in another religion's ceremony. Others believed it was fine to eat the meat. This was causing division. Paul says that eating the meat is fine, but that even still it shouldn't be eaten if it would cause problems for another Christian.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to be careful that using our freedom doesn't become a stumbling block to others.
  • Unity in the church is more important than doing what we want and getting our way. We need to live selfless lives of love that build others up.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there something you're doing that might cause a problem for someone else? Perhaps you have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, and you've had a glass of wine in front of her. Or you have a friend who struggles with lust, and you invited him to see a movie with you that has nudity. Make a commitment to live a life of putting the needs of others before your own and carefully making your decisions so you build others up rather than causing them to stumble.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dream to Destiny: Overcoming Bitterness

We provide questions each week based on the theme of our service for our Verve Groups to use. If you're not in a Verve Group, feel free to use them on your own.
This week we continued the series called Dream to Destiny and talked about Overcoming BitternessIf you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. Describe your favorite meal- appetizer, drink, entree and/ or dessert.
  2. How do you punish the people you are bitter towards?
  3. Read Genesis 45:4-5 in the Old Testament of the Bible. When have you gotten to experience God going before you in your life to prepare a way for you?
  4. Do you think you would be able to forgive your brothers if you were Joseph? Why or why not?
  5. What part of forgiveness is the hardest for you? Releasing the right to retaliate, restoring the relationship, or recognizing the sovereignty of God? Why?
  6. Have you accepted God's forgiveness? If so, how does this help you in forgiving others in your life? If not, what's holding you back from accepting it?
  7. If you were in Joseph's shoes, how would you have handled seeing your brothers for the first time in 23 years when the last time you saw them, they sold you into slavery?
  8. Who have you struggled to forgive in your life? Have you forgiven them? If so, tell us about it. If not, what's preventing you from taking that next step?
  9. Weekly Check In Question:  What could we be praying for you this week? (Is there something good we could celebrate with you, or a challenge you need God's help with?)

June 16 - Daniel 3

Today's reading in our daily plan is Daniel 3. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • King Nebuchadnezzar creates an image (statue) of gold and demands everyone to worship it.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (pretty fun to say out loud, try it!) believe in God and refuse to give their worship to anyone or anything else. When they refuse, the King orders that they be burned to death in a large industrial furnace. 
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are given another chance to worship the idol but refuse. They tell the King that they know God is able to save them, even from the inferno of a burning furnace. They say "But even if he does not" they will still not give their worship to anything else.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the fire where they are (miraculously) joined by either an angel or (many theologians believe) Jesus.
  • They are not burned and Nebuchadnezzar is so amazed that he turns his faith to God and promotes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We are all tempted to worship things other than God. To worship is to view something as valuable, to love and be devoted to something. If there is anything we treat as more valuable than God, that we love and are devoted to more than God, we are worshiping that thing. One way to know you are worshiping something over God is if you won't do what God says with it. For instance:
    • God says to give 10% of our money to Him. If we won't, we are valuing money more than Him.
    • God tells us to not have sex with anyone we're not married too. If we do, we are valuing sex more than God.
    • God tells us not to lie to or gossip about other people. If we do, we are valuing their approval or our image more than God.
  • God tells us that we are not to worship anything but Him (see Exodus 20:3-6 and Matthew 6:33). That's because (1) He deserves our worship, (2) because nothing else is worthy of or can handle, and (3) because our lives will get all messed up if we put anything other than God first in our lives.
  • When we face difficult situations or when we are pressured by others to do something that violates our faith in God or the character He's called us to live with, we need to be faithful to Him and trust that He will get us through it. But "even if He does not" God is still worthy of all our worship. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that was true, and we have an advantage over them. Jesus has come for us and died for us. God did the worst thing to Himself because it was the thing we needed most; He saved us from our sin. We can trust that He would do anything for us.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • What are you tempted to put above God? Where are you pressured to not be faithful to or to sin against God?
    • Will you take a stand like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did, putting God first, no matter what?
    • Will you trust God and be faithful, even if things don't go the way you want them to?
    • Who can you get to support you?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

June 15 - Daniel 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is Daniel 2. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • Back at this time, dreams were often considered messages from "the gods." Wise men were expected to be able to interpret dreams.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar gave the "wise men" a seemingly impossible task. Instead of telling his dream and asking for an interpretation (which, obviously, could have just been a guess), he asks his advisors to tell him what he dreamed and to interpret it. No one can, and the King orders they all be killed.
  • In chapter one we saw that Daniel, who was a young man who was faithful to God, was made to serve the King. He is thus considered one of the King's wise men, and so he is to be executed as well. Daniel, with "wisdom and tact" convinced the men to give him time before they kill him.
  • Daniel asks his three friends who are also faithful to God to pray for him.
  • Daniel is able to tell the King what he dreamed and the correct interpretation. Daniel gives all the credit to God for this ability.
  • The King elevates Daniel (and his three friends) into powerful leadership positions.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All of the wise men of Babylon faced a seemingly hopeless, impossible situation. But for Daniel it was not impossible. It wasn't impossible because he had God. Jesus once said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). When faced with a hopeless situation, Daniel turned to God and had his faith-filled friends pray for him. God came through and the impossible became possible.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • What seemingly impossible situation are you facing? Maybe ... your marriage feels like it's falling a part? You can't find a job? Your kid is rebelling? You're stuck in an addiction? You're broke? Do you assume there's no hope or do you believe that with God all things are possible? Do you turn to God in faith? Do you ask faith-filled friends to pray for you? When the situation changes, will you give God all your praise and all the credit?