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Monday, September 24, 2018

September 24 - 1 Thessalonians 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Thessalonians 5. 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 teaching (from the previous chapter) on the return of Jesus, saying that he will come when no one is expecting it. However, it shouldn't take us by surprise, as we should always be waiting and prepared.
  • In verse eight Paul tells the Thessalonians to put on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. This means that our faith hope and love should protect us from the temptations that can hit our thinking and emotions.
  • Jesus' followers will not suffer the wrath of God we deserve since we have received salvation (been saved) through Jesus' death (see verses 9-10).
  • Verses 12-24 provide a list of things God wants us to be about.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to live in a way that we're ready for Jesus to return at any time, so we can welcome him and be unashamed at his coming.
  • We need to build up our faith, hope, and love so we can take a stand against temptation.
  • We need to be grateful every day that, on the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserve so we get to escape it and enter God's good graces.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Read back through verses 12-24. What of these teachings are you doing good with, and which do you need some help with?
  • Consider memorizing verses 16-18, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." Write it down on a piece of paper or card, carry it with you, and read it throughout the day until you have it committed to memory.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Chain Breaker: I Want to Forgive but I Don't Know How

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 Chain Breaker and talked about "I want to forgive but I don't know how". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. What is one thing that always makes you laugh?
  2. Read Ephesians 4:26 in the New Testament of the Bible. How can you make sure you don't sin when you are angry?
  3. Tell us about a time where you sought out revenge instead of forgiveness. How did you feel after seeking revenge?
  4. Read Luke 6:27-28 in the New Testament. Which one of those things listed is the hardest for you to do to someone who hurt you and why?
  5. What makes praying for your enemy so hard?
  6. Do you have an earthly father who is for you and will always be on your side? How does this effect your view of God?
  7. Who do you need to lean on God to forgive today?
  8. 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?)

September 23 - Jeremiah 28

Today's reading in our daily plan is Jeremiah 28. 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?)
  • Yesterday’s passage included a warning from God about the false prophets who would declare that the people would not have to serve the Babylonians. Today’s passage is about a prophet named Hananiah who spoke a prophecy that everyone liked: he announced that God would bring relief to his people within two years.
  • Jeremiah confronted Hananiah by saying he hoped Hananiah’s predictions would come true so that the people would know the words came from God. In response to Jeremiah, Hananiah took the wooden yoke that Jeremiah was wearing around his neck (see Jeremiah 27:2; 8) and broke it in two.
  • God then gave Jeremiah a message for Hananiah that the broken wooden yoke would be replaced with an iron one and that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would have control over all nations, people, and animals. Because of Hananiah’s false prophecies, God proclaimed that Hananiah would die within the year and the chapters ends announcing that Hananiah died two months later.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Jeremiah spoke the truth but it was unpopular; Hananiah spoke lies which brought false hope and comfort to the people. At times we may honestly hope for things to end a way that is different than God’s plan. Being faithful to God means sometimes we have to hear painful truths and act in obedience to him even if it is against what our own desires are.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • It can be easier to put your hope in words that make you feel good and actions that are comfortable even if they are not the best or right choices. And sometimes it can be difficult to know if you are leaning into the truth or taking the path of least resistance. Today, can you meet up with a friend who knows you well and ask them if they see you making any poor choices?
  • One of the best places to find strength and encouragement to make the right choices is in community. Verve Groups just started for the fall semester as a way to help people better connect to God and each other. If you haven’t joined a small group, check out all the options here!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

September 22 - Jeremiah 27

Today's reading in our daily plan is Jeremiah 27. 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?)
  • Today’s chapter takes place after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had already invaded Judah once and taken many captives. God instructed Jeremiah to wear a yoke (a wooden frame used to fasten a team of animals to a plow) as a symbol of bondage.
  • While wearing the yoke, Jeremiah was to tell the kings of Israel’s neighboring nations that they would all submit to Babylon and serve Babylon’s king. God warned the nations not to listen to false prophets that said they would not be conquered. Any people who surrendered would be allowed to stay in their homeland even though it would then be under the control of Babylon.
  • The same message was repeated to the king of Judah and his people. There Jeremiah also delivered God’s words that all of the cherished articles in the Temple would be brought to Babylon.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • In this chapter, God asks the Israelites and the people of the surrounding nations to submit to his will and promises that their lives will be more comfortable if they do so.
  • King Zedekiah of Judah was in a tough spot, he was called on to surrender even though it may mean that he would look like a coward to some people. Because of his hesitation and doubt, many false prophets took advantage of the opportunity to speak the words the king wanted to hear despite the fact that they were not true.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Today, think of an area of your life that you need to surrender to God. Do you struggle with infidelity? Do you have an addiction to alcohol, gambling, or food? Is it easier for you to tell lies than the truth? Are you holding bitterness and anger toward someone in your life that should be forgiven? Submitting to God can feel scary. Take a moment and pray to God, asking him for strength and courage to give up the destructive ways that are rooted in your heart so that you may know the peace and comfort he can give you.

Friday, September 21, 2018

September 21 - 1 Thessalonians 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Thessalonians 4. 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?)
  • The Thessalonians are told to "live in order to please God." They are told to avoid sexual immorality. (Sexual immorality would consist of sex outside of marriage.) (In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus says that even lusting for someone who isn't your spouse is not acceptable.) Paul writes that living this way keeps followers of Jesus from wronging other people.
  • They are also encouraged to love each other "more and more."
  • They are taught to live "a quiet life." Instead of getting into other people's business, we should work hard and serve people and live a life that wins the respect of others.
  • Paul then clarifies a teaching that the Thessalonians were confused about. He says that Christians have hope for life after death. Since Jesus died and rose again, so will those who followed him and then "fell asleep" (died). In fact, Jesus himself is going to come back to bring his followers to be with God forever.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Our lives should be about loving God and loving people. But love isn't just having warm feelings. Loving includes obedience to God and doing what's best for other people.
  • Jesus is going to return, and there is life coming after this life. That gives us reason to hope, no matter what is happening.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In what ways are you currently not loving God, or not loving people? Here's the test: Where are you not obeying God? (With your sex life, or thought life about sex? By not tithing your money (giving God back ten percent)? By not sharing your faith?) A lack of obedience is a lack of love.
  • Where are you not doing what's best for another person? (By not being a servant in your home? By speaking harshly to people you're supposed to encourage? By having sex with someone you're not married to?)
  • Does the promise of Jesus' return and your future in Heaven encourage you daily? If not, how could you allow it to do so?

Thursday, September 20, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

What if you want to forgive someone but you don't know how? Maybe the answer isn't found waiting for the person to ask for forgiveness. It starts with you.

Join us this weekend at Verve for part 3 of the series, Chain Breaker!

September 20 - 1 Thessalonians 3

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Thessalonians 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?)
  • Paul writes about his longing to be with the Thessalonians, as well as his joy upon hearing of their continued faith and love.
  • It’s the Thessalonians’ faith that gives him joy and encouragement. He loved that these people wanted to know and follow Jesus.
  • It seems Paul’s goal in life was to encourage everyone to know and follow Jesus. This led him to go to foreign cultures to tell people about Jesus, to go to prison for sharing Jesus, and ultimately to die for it.
  • Paul tells the Thessalonians that he is encouraged that they are standing firm in the face of trials and persecution, and that he had warned them that this would happen.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to have a passion and goal in life for everyone to know Jesus.
  • We need to expect trials and persecution if we are following Jesus.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What are you doing to help other people know Jesus? Who are you showing God's love to? Who are you mentioning your faith to? Who have you invited to church in the past week or two? And, more important, what will you do this week?
  • Are you surprised when bad things happen to you? Don't be. Being a Christian doesn't give you a free pass from trials or persecution. Instead, it almost invites them. But we can stand strong because of God's strength in us. Pray that God will give you his strength when you need it.