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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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 19 - 1 Thessalonians 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Thessalonians 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?)
  • Paul reminds the Thessalonians how he lived when he was with them. It seems that someone must have been questioning Paul's motives, perhaps claiming that he was only after money. Paul reminds them of his actions and asserts his innocence.
  • Apparently (see verse 14) the Thessalonians were persecuted for putting their faith in Jesus.
  • In verse 20 Paul says, “You are our glory, and joy.” Paul is expressing the goal of his preaching. He doesn’t want material things but rather for people to have a genuine relationship with Jesus that saves them from their sin. This is what got him up in the morning and allowed him to persevere despite suffering. The Thessalonians' faith was the fruit of Paul’s labor, and it gave him great joy.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Paul says he lived in a way that was "holy, righteous and blameless" (verse 10), and therefore his motives couldn't be questioned. We, too, need to live pure lives with pure motives so that we are above reproach.
  • The Thessalonians realized how great a treasure Jesus is. They were filled with joy in having him, even when being persecuted for having him. We also should have joy no matter what happens because we have found the treasure that changes everything.
  • Paul's driving motivation was to see other people come to faith in Jesus. Seeing other people come to know and follow Jesus should get us up in the morning and be the primary purpose we live for each day.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What needs to change about your life so you could honestly say you are "holy, righteous and blameless"? Ask God to help you make those changes, because you want to live completely for him.
  • What would help you to be more passionate about seeing other people come to Jesus? Part of it is actually doing it, so who could you talk to this week about your faith, or who could you invite to church for this Sunday or Monday?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

September 18 - 1 Thessalonians 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Thessalonians 1. 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 next two New Testament bible books we’re going to read are letters written by Paul to the church he started in a city called Thessalonica. A record of Paul’s preaching in that city (and the resulting events) can be found in Acts 17:1-15.
  • In that day, Thessalonica was a city of 200,000 people and had been made the capitol of a province called Macedonia, which covered the north half of present-day Greece after being conquered by the Romans in 168 BC.
  • Paul opens by sending greetings not only from himself, but also from two of his ministry apprentices, Silas and Timothy.
  • Paul commends the readers for showing faith, hope and love through their actions.
  • The Thessalonians are commended for having joy (given by the Holy Spirit) in spite of severe suffering.
  • The Thessalonian Christians and their story had become well known and a model for others in surrounding areas to follow.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Our faith, hope, and love should produce work for God. We don't do good works to earn approval from him, but the natural result of our faith in him, our love for him, and the hope that he gives us should be good works.
  • We can have joy despite suffering. This may barely be humanly possible, but with the presence and power of God given through the Holy Spirit, it is possible for Christians.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Paul called the church in Thessalonica a model for other churches and believers. Apparently this was because of the way they responded to the message about Jesus, their joy despite suffering, and their works prompted by faith and love. Could you be held up as a model for other believers? If so, in what ways? If not, why not? And what will you do about that? What changes could you make in your relationship with God to allow him to more powerfully work through you, so you can have a life worth imitating?

Monday, September 17, 2018

September 17 - Hebrews 13

Today's reading in our daily plan is Hebrews 13. 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 we conclude Hebrews, and this last chapter contains a long list of things we should do as we live for Jesus, such as...
    • Love each other.
    • Take care of strangers (It says that some strangers may be angels, which should be a sobering thought next time you encounter a homeless person).
    • Care for prisoners.
    • Care for those who are mistreated, just as you would want someone to care for you if you were in the same situation.
    • Honor the bonds of marriage.
    • Keep sex holy (that is, only a husband and wife).
    • Don’t love money.
    • Don’t worry about your needs because God promises to take care of you.
    • Don’t become sidetracked by wrong teachings about Jesus. Stay focused on what the Bible clearly says.
    • Be willing to be disgraced for Jesus because he was disgraced for you.
    • Continually praise God.
    • Share with others.
    • Submit to your leaders and make it a joy for them to lead you.
    • Pray for others.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • At Verve we say we want to love God and love people. Jesus said all the commandments hinge on loving God and loving people. Looking back through that list, can you see how each connects with loving God and loving people? What if our driving questions were "How can I best love God?" and "How can I best love people?" Wouldn't we probably end up doing all of these things?

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What on that list are you good at? Thank God for the strength he's given you in that area.
  • What on that list do you struggle with? Ask God to show you why it's important, how it's really about loving God and people, and to give you the strength to do it.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Chain Breaker: I'm Still So Angry

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'm Still So Angry". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. What's a TV show you can't wait until it starts back?
  2. Tell us about a time you've felt taken advantage of, hurt or angry.
  3. Do you think there's ever a point where something is unforgivable? Why or why not?
  4. When was the last time you had to forgive someone for something and it wasn't easy? Share about it.
  5. Read Hebrews 12:15 in the New Testament of the Bible. Why do you think a bitter root can cause trouble and defile many?
  6. How do you tend to deal with your hurts? Have you always dealt with hurts this way or is this a recent change? 
  7. Why do you think prayer makes forgiveness possible?
  8. What anger or past hurts do you need to release today?
  9. Who do you need to ask God to help you forgive today?
  10. 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?)