Tuesday, December 11, 2018

December 11 - Revelation 10

Today's reading in our daily plan is Revelation 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?)
  • This chapter is the start of an interlude in the series of judgments striking the earth.
  • A mighty angel comes down from heaven and shouts something that John isn’t allowed to record.
  • The angel gives John a scroll and instructs him to eat it. The scroll could represent the bible, the book of Revelation, or God’s words in general. A very similar scene of someone (a "prophet" who is being asked to speak for God) eating a scroll that represents God's Word has been played out before, in the Old Testament in Ezekiel 3:1-3, and another somewhat similar scene in the Old Testament in Jeremiah 15:16.
  • The scroll starts out tasting sweet to John, but then turned sour.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • John isn't allowed to write down what the mighty angel says. We are left to wonder. And the reality is that in the Christian life there is a lot we don't know. The Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that in this life we don't always see things clearly, and will have to wait for the time to come to have many of our questions answered. There is much that is shrouded in mystery, but it's encouraging to know that God knows, and that he is in control of that which is out of our control.
  • Ezekiel and Jeremiah and John were all told to eat the word of God. We need to do the same. We need to ingest the Bible into our minds, so we'll better know God and the life he has for us. There are times when it will taste sweet (like when you read about God's love) and there will be times when it will taste sour (like when you read about God's judgment in Revelation) but it is truth and we need to know all of it.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How can you find answers for the questions you still have and the things you don't know about God and Christianity? And how can you encourage yourself to trust God and have peace about the things you'll never understand in this life?
  • How can "eating" God's Word help you to know what you don't currently know? How might it help you grow to a place where you trust God even when you don't know?
  • Congratulations on doing a great thing by reading the Bible today! Keep up the habit. There will be days when it seems sweet, and others when it seems sour, but it's all important.

Monday, December 10, 2018

December 10 - Revelation 9

Today's reading in our daily plan is Revelation 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?)
  • The "star that had fallen from the sky to earth" (verse 1) may represent Satan. Passages like Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:12-15 (which refer specifically to the kings of Babylon and Tyre, but most Bible scholars believe they refer to the spiritual power behind those kings, Satan) reveal that Satan was an angel in heaven who because of ego decided to rebel and take over God's throne. His rebellion, of course, failed, and God cast him out of heaven. Interestingly, Satan wanted to be like God, and his first temptation (of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:1-5) is for them to be like God. He's been using the same temptation ever since.
  • Things get crazy as the floodgates of the abyss release armies of scorpion-like locusts. But instead of devouring plant life like a normal plague of locusts, these things attack and torture people. They could represent past or future armies that attack people other than those who were “sealed” in chapter seven. The majority of theologians believe the descriptions of these things is symbolic. But they could also point to Satan's activity in people's lives.
  • The leader of the locust hordes is called "Abaddon" or "Apollyon"; each of these mean "destroyer". Many believe this leader represents Satan.
  • After this, another horde of weird creatures is released on the earth to cause plagues of fire, smoke, and sulfur.
  • Near the end of the reading we get a hint at the reason for the trumpet judgments. In verse 20 it says that the those who weren’t killed by the plagues still refused to worship God and repent from their murders, magic arts, sexual immorality, and theft. (Magic arts could refer to drugs, poisons, or activities associated with idol worship, but not the illusions of modern magicians). Even though humanity’s lifestyles and beliefs do nothing to ease their torture, they still do not turn to God. This picture of mankind is quite bleak.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Satan is not a character from cartoons and movies, nor is he just a part of the story in the Bible. He is real and he is the enemy of your soul. He hates God, and so (because God loves you) there is nothing he enjoys more than wreaking havoc in your life. John 10:10 refers to Satan as a thief, and says that he wants to "steal, kill and destroy" your life.
  • Everything that occurs in this chapter may make it seem like God is absent from the picture here, but God is trying to get the attention of people who are defiant and want their own way in hopes that they will turn to him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • It's been said that Satan probably has a strategy for how he will steal your soul away from God and destroy your life and future. What do you think it probably is? Knowing you, like you do, what do you think Satan would use to tempt you, distract you, and to get you to leave God behind and go in a different direction? And, if Satan has a strategy for how to get you away from God and destroy your life, shouldn't you spend some time developing a strategy for how you will stay close to God and preserve your life with him for now and for all eternity?

Sunday, December 9, 2018

When God Shows Up: The Hungry Are Satisfied

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 When God Shows Up and talked about The Hungry Are SatisfiedIf you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. Do you prefer a real or fake Christmas tree? Why?
  2. When is the last time God showed up in your life? Tell us about it.
  3. Do you have a hunger for God that is a total desperation? If so, how did you get a desperate hunger? If not, what's one step you could take to increase your hunger for God?
  4. Are you content with mediocre Christianity or do you desire more? Why?
  5. Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have your hunger satisfied by God? Why or why not?
  6. In Mark chapter 10 and verse 48 of the Bible, it says, "Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"" How can you be more like Bartimaeus and hunger for God without being worried about what others say?
  7. What are you hungry for?
  8. Have you ever asked God for more of Him? Why or why not?
  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?)

December 9 - Jeremiah 50

Today's reading in our daily plan is Jeremiah 50. 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?)
  • God sends a message to the nation of Babylon, addressing their sinful actions and the punishment that would come from it. In Chapter 49, it is revealed that God chose Babylon for the purpose of destroying other evil, foreign nations. Once that purpose was fulfilled however, God turns to the Babylonians evilness and reveals that he will destroy them as well.
  • Verse 41 mentions that a great army from the north will be coming to attack and defeat Babylon. This prophecy was fulfilled when King Cyrus planned a surprise attack against Babylon and captured the city.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Babylon's largest flaw was that they were prideful. Throughout their rise and fall, they continually neglected God and fully relied on their own power. In all of their accomplishments as a nation, they never once recognized God as the ultimate power and because of this as well as several other sinful wrongdoings, they were destroyed.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  •  How important is your relationship with God? Do you value it? Take some time to thank God for what he has done in your life and is continuing to do because He alone is the ultimate power. If you struggle with pride, take some time to admit it to Him and ask for forgiveness because He is always there to help us overcome our struggles.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

December 8 - Jeremiah 49

Today's reading in our daily plan is Jeremiah 49. 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?)
  • God continues His messages to the foreign nations, addressing their continued sin and ensuring that they will be held accountable for all of their wrongdoing. 
    • The first message is directed towards the nation of Ammon. The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Genesis 19:30-38) through an incestuous relationship and worshipped Molech. They regularly sacrificed their own children to Molech and stole land away from Israel. The Ammonites actions made God really angry and because of this and their blind selfishness, He warns that they will be destroyed. 
    • The next nation that is brought up is Edom. The Israelites descended from Jacob and the Edomites descended from Jacob's twin brother, Esau. In Genesis, Esau and Jacob were always at odds with each other, and unfortunately, their strained relationship bled over into how their descendants interacted with one another. Edom and Israel were constantly in conflict. Edom's greatest flaw was pride. Edom believed themselves to be almost invincible because of their strong nation and army but because of their sin, God confirms that they will be destroyed. 
    • The third nation is Damascus. The nation was located north of Israel and because of their sin, God ensures their destruction. They are later defeated by both Assyria and Babylon.
    • The fourth group that is brought up are the nomadic tribes, Kedar and Hazor. These tribes wandered the desert and God confirms that they will be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
    • The last nation that is addressed is Elam. Elam was another evil city that God destroyed and later used to become the center of the Persian Empire.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God is a God of love and grace that will welcome anyone that accepts Him with open arms. At the same time, God is also a judge and if a person, or in this specific chapter's case, entire nations, continually turn away from Him and live in sin and selfishness, then they will be held accountable.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  •  Get right with God. Be honest with Him. He's always available so take some time to pray with Him if you're feeling unsteady. God is a God that wants to have a relationship with you so lean on Him now if you've felt distant.

Friday, December 7, 2018

December 7 - Revelation 8

Today's reading in our daily plan is Revelation 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?)
  • The chapter opens with a dramatic silence. Just after the seventh and final seal is opened everything in heaven stops. There may be a sense that things are about to get worse... and they do.
  • John continues to narrate the activities of four angels who are sounding trumpets. This results in catastrophic damage on the earth. One of the trumpets calls down an asteroid-type thing called "Wormwood"(that title means "bitterness," which is an apt name seeing as it turned a third of the earth’s water bitter).
  • According to the four most common interpretations of Revelation, these events could be:
    • Symbolizing what happened to Jerusalem in AD 70 (when the temple was destroyed) or to the Roman empire years later
    • A future judgment of God taken literally or merely the effects of humanity’s abuse of the earth; or...
    • A general symbol of God’s judgment on a defiant humanity.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God is love. The Bible makes that clear, and at Verve we talk about it often. But God is also a perfect and just judge. If you heard about a (human) judge who had someone guilty of horrible crimes come before him, and this judge decides to ignore his guilt, pretend nothing has happened, and assign no punishment, you would not think that was loving. You would think it was wrong. And God must judge wrongdoing. God will judge sin. It's not a pleasant topic, but it's reality and we need to recognize it. All sin will be judged, and sinful people will experience the consequences of their sin. Unless (and this is huge) they choose to accept Jesus as their Savior, in which case Jesus is judged for that person's sin and, on the cross, Jesus experiences the consequences of that person's sin.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • It's awesome to know God is love, and it's amazing that God asks us to be his friend. But we need to be careful to not reduce God to some kind of warm fuzzy half-truth version of himself. God is holy, and he will judge sin. This means we need to take our sin seriously. We need to have it removed from ourselves to escape judgment, and thank God we can do that through Jesus and his sacrifice. But even if we have, we still need to take our sin seriously. We don't want to add on to what Jesus had to bear on the cross. And we want to have God's attitude about everything, which means we should hate our sin.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

Most of us have never experienced really being hungry. We've probably all had moments where we considered ourselves "starving," but the reality is, we haven't experienced a hunger so strong we were willing to dig through trash for a scrap of food. 

This weekend at Verve, as we continue in the series, When God Shows Up, we will see we are satisfied when we have a deep, true hunger.