Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Deep Down Dark: Four Degrees of Desperation

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 The Deep Down Dark and talked about "Four Degrees of Desperation". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. What was the first record, tape or CD that you ever owned?
  2. When have you been in a moment of desperation?
  3. Why do you think desperation usually makes people turn to God?
  4. When you see someone in your life in a state of desperation, do you speak into their life? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think it's a sign of weakness to ask for help? Why or why not?
  6. Read 2 Kings 5:10-12 in the Old Testament of the Bible. Have you ever reacted poorly when things didn't go the way you thought they should? How did your reaction effect the situation?
  7. Which degree of desperation (helpless, openness, willingness, readiness) is the hardest for you? Why?
  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?)

May 20 - Isaiah 55

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 55. 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 uses pictures of food and drink to illustrate His salvation. He extends an invitation to Israel to find life through Him and allow themselves to experience His unfailing love. God prompts the sinners to turn away from their evil ways and turn towards God because He will embrace them with open arms. He also adds that people must be willing to listen to Him in order to experience his goodness.
  • God points out that His thoughts are not our thoughts and adds another illustration in verse 10 explaining that God does nothing in vain.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • This passage does not solely apply to the people of Israel. In their time of captivity, the Israelites needed comfort in hearing those words but what was said also parallels to the gift of salvation that is accessible through Jesus.
  • The fact that God points out that His thoughts and ways are different from ours is meant to be encouraging. It shows that we need to trust in Him because the events that happen in life are completed with a purpose that we sometimes can't always see.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you accepted God's free gift to have a relationship with Him? God is reaching out and all we have to do is be willing to have open hearts. The only thing in life that brings true joy and satisfaction is a relationship with God so being ready to listen to Him is incredibly important.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

May 19 - Isaiah 54

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 54. 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?)
  • A picture is painted of a barren woman giving birth to many and being incredibly fruitful. In Ancient Israel, a childless woman was typically shamed and disgraced by the surrounding community. God makes this analogy because he promises Israel that they will be freed and restored even though they are currently feeling alone, forgotten and disgraced.
  • Israel's exile is compared to the time of Noah and the flood. God made a promise to never flood the earth again and is making a promise that his anger will never fall on Israel again.
  • Several other promises are made by God that speak of protecting His people from harm and building Israel back up to be greater than it has ever been.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God's love is unfailing and proves that with Israel. Israel consistently rejected God and put themselves in a position to be thrown into exile but because of His character, God promises rescue and redemption.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Are you feeling alone? Are you feeling like you've been forgotten or are going through a time in your life where you can't see God working? God is there and promises that He is. Israel felt alone but God was always there and the discomfort was only temporary. God will always be there for you too.

Friday, May 18, 2018

May 18 - 1 Corinthians 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 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 Christians in Corinth had become prideful and arrogant (verse 6). They thought a lot of themselves, and looked down on Paul. He reminds them that yes, he is a servant but he is not to be undervalued. Ultimately, God is his and our final judge and he is not concerned with their judgment of him. 
  • He also warns them that they have no reason to be "puffed up." Everything they have, do, and are is because of God's grace, not anything they have done on their own.
  • Paul explains in verses 8-13 that while they take pride in their power and wisdom, he takes the opposite approach to life, seeking to be a servant and a "fool for Christ." A fool for Jesus is someone who lives by the wisdom of God, even if it goes against human wisdom and looks stupid to other people.
  • Paul then closes the chapter by speaking to them like a father. A father is loving, but sometimes stern when they care for their child's well-being. This is how Paul felt about Corinth. He had a spiritual influence on their lives, like being a spiritual father. He was so concerned about them that he sent Timothy to watch over them and to teach them more about the way of life in Jesus.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Every thing and every gift we have is from God. We should never be arrogant or prideful enough to think that our life is good because of us. We have done nothing to deserve the blessings in our life, let alone the air we breathe.
  • We need to live for an audience of one. It's easy to obsess over what other people think of us and to live to please others. But people don't know our motives and our heart. Only God sees those things. And God is the only person that is going to judge us someday. So he is the only person that we need to care about and be concerned about.
  • Just like we shouldn't worry about what others think of us, we also shouldn't judge others. If people don't know our motives, how can we possibly know theirs? Instead, we should focus on our own sins instead of the sins of others. (See Jesus' words in Matthew 7:1-5)

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you ever stop and think about all the amazing gifts you have in your life? Maybe you don't think you have any. But think again. Did you wake up this morning? Are you breathing? Did you eat something, anything? Did you watch the sunset? These are all gifts. If you haven't, take time today to thank God right now for both the big and little gifts in your life. 
  • Where are you living to please others? What would it look like in that area of your life if you focused only on what God thought of you? What would need to change?
  • Where and in what ways do you find yourself judging others? What leads you to judge? Do you see how you can't really judge well, and why judgment belongs to God alone? What could you do to help you to trust God and stop judging others?

Thursday, May 17, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

What if desperation is where you find deliverance? Desperation is the gift no one wants, but everyone needs.

This weekend at Verve, we continue the series, The Deep Down Dark as we talk about Four Degrees of Desperation.

May 17 - 1 Corinthians 3

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 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 warns the Corinthians that they are acting spiritually immature, kind of like an infant. They are being influenced by the world and it's leading to jealousy and quarreling. What were they quarreling about? People were lining up behind different church leaders to follow them, instead of Jesus. This hero worship was causing arguments and Paul wanted to put a stop to it.
  • Paul reminds them that these men they follow are just servants appointed by God to help point them toward Jesus. They are just workers sent to plant and water, but ultimately, God is responsible for the growth of people and His church.
  • Paul uses a metaphor in verses 10-17. The work the teachers and leaders do in people's lives is like building a temple. The builders need to be very careful that their foundation is Jesus so the building will last. Any other foundation will not endure.
  • Paul closes the chapter by encouraging the Corinthians that they belong to Christ and that God's spirit lives within them. As a result, they should choose to live by God's wisdom, which is contrary to the ways of this world and may seem foolish to others, but it is right and true. 

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Paul begins by complaining that the Corinthians are still living like spiritual babies since the last time he saw them. Ouch. Babies are cute. But there is definitely something wrong if the baby stops growing. Our faith should be viewed in the same way. If we are not constantly growing we need to stop, figure out why, and go to God for help. 
  • Paul also complains that the Christians in Corinth are "acting like mere men." That may seem odd, since they were in fact men and women. But what he is actually saying is that they were living like the rest of the world and that is not ok. When people give their lives to God, He gives His Spirit to them. They then have God living in them, and He lives His life through them. Human beings who have God can then live beyond "mere human."
  • God's path for every Christian is to grow in their maturity, so they can become more like God and more of a leader for Him. Someday God wants you to be a leader in His movement. When that happens be careful how you lead. Make sure the foundation is always Jesus, and that you're using Godly wisdom, so your work will have true impact and will last.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Are you living like a baby or an adult? In your life are you guided by human wisdom, making typical human decisions, driven by human desires and goals, using the "I'm only human" excuse for your sins and short-comings? If so, it's time to realize that you can be better than that. And it won't be you. It will be God living through you. In another one of his letters, Paul wrote, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." You can choose to give your life to God, connect deeply with Him daily, and invite Him in to live His life through you. You will have power you've never had to live the kind of life you never could!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

May 16 - 1 Corinthians 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 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?)
  • In the opening of this chapter, Paul explains that he isn't a master communicator. In fact, he was originally intimidated and fearful of the Corinthians. He talked about Jesus only and left the rest in God's hands. He understood that it wasn't about his words, but rather, God's power to change people's lives. 
  • Paul then explains that God's wisdom is different than man's. Man's wisdom doesn't want to accept faith because it cannot see it. But, faith is about God's power, not about knowledge.  He contrasts the world's wisdom with the Spirit of God.
    • The idea is that there is a certain way the world thinks and does things. The way God teaches us to think and live is far different. He goes on to point out that the "world" will think God's wisdom and way of life is foolish, but someone who has aligned themselves with God will understand that it is right.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The wisdom that comes from the Holy Spirit is understood only if someone has the Holy Spirit. This happens when we choose to put our lives in Jesus’ hands. God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide, remind, teach and convict us. With the Holy Spirit, we always have God with us and active in our lives.
  • Every day we are presented with 2 ways to live our lives- the world's way or God's way. We need to choose God's way. It is better, and our lives will be better for it.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where in your life are you currently living by man's wisdom instead of God's?
    • Maybe you do relationships the way "everyone else does."
    • Or perhaps you handle your finances the way most of the world deals with money. 
    • It could be your thoughts about sex are guided by other people's norms.
  • Choose today instead to learn God's wisdom and to live by it. That's what it means to have God truly be the God of your life: it will honor Him, and your life will be better.
    • So where do you need to do that today?