Monday, June 18, 2018

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.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Inside Job: Generous God

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 began the series called Inside Job and talked about "Generous God". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. What's the worst job you've ever had?
  2. Have you ever thought about God being generous before? Why or why not?
  3. Read Ephesians 5:1-2 in the New Testament of the Bible. What's one way you can be an imitator of God?
  4. Do you believe being like God means you are generous? Why or why not?
  5. Do you take a day off each week just like God did when He created the world? Why or why not?
  6. Do you view the money and things you have as yours? Why or why not?
  7. Is it difficult for you to consistently give to the church? Why or why not?
  8. Have you ever had a moment in your life where you trusted God with you finances and decided to be generous? If so, what happened after that moment? If not, what are you waiting for?
  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 17 - Isaiah 63

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 63. 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 passage combines both prophetic statements on God's vengeance and prayers to God for redemption. The first verse starts with a question and asks who is coming from Edom, with dyed clothes from Bozrah. Bozrah was the capital of Edom and the Edomites were people that took advantage of the Israelites when Jerusalem fell captive to Babylon. Edom is brought into this context because it is implied that they were judged. God answers the question and says that he is the one coming from Edom, while adding that he "speaks in righteousness" and is "mighty to save". It's important to note this description because while God is declaring that he is a mighty judge, he at the same time is mentioning the fact that he is also a mighty savior.
  • Verses 2-6 continue to dive deeper into God's vengeance and states that he "trodded the winepress alone". This metaphor explains that Jesus alone is the one that can judge his enemies. Verses 6-6 emphasize this point by pointing that God judged alone and had no other outside help.
  • The remaining chunk of the passage, verses 7-19, is a prayer to God from an exiled point of view. The prayer starts by talking about God's goodness and great mercies and calls back to the time of Moses when God was close to his people and protected them from harm. The prayer ends with a cry out in pain for God to return and a call for restoration.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • There is a lot of talk on judgment within this passage, which gives further insight into the character of God. From verses 2-6, it is made clear that God will be judging humanity and no one else has the same power or right to do that. However, in verse 4, the subtle word usage between "day of vengeance" and "year of redeemed" is key. God in no way enjoys punishing sinners but he does enjoy bringing redemption to those who believe in him. The "day of vengeance" is necessary but short in comparison to "year of redeemed" where God's abundant and everlasting grace is represented.
  • The prayer that happens in verses 7-19 reveals that no matter how tough and heartbreaking a situation might be, there is always room to look to God and thank him for what he has done.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Are you going through a tough time in life where you are hurting or stuck? Isaiah shows that regardless of how hard the situation is, God is still greater. Rather than close yourself off in a time of pain, reach your arms out to God and praise him for still being loving, good, and gracious.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

June 16 - Isaiah 62

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 62. 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?)
  • Building off of the same feelings from the previous two chapters, Isaiah 62 brings additional words of comfort to the people of Jerusalem. God opens the passage by saying he will not stop his pursuit for his people's hearts until they are made righteous again. (Righteousness is a term that can be defined as living according to God's will). God points out that as a result of this newfound righteousness, the Gentiles will see it and take notice. 
  • Since Jerusalem was taken into captivity by Babylon, they became known for feeling forgotten and destroyed. God said that they should forget those feelings and gives a command that a new name be given . He continues and calls Jerusalem "Hephzibah" and "Beulah" which means "my delight is in her" and "married".
  • Starting in verse 10, God gives a command to prepare the way for his people because a Savior is coming.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God's divine care and relentless pursuit of his people is revealed. Even though his chosen people had continually denied him, God chose to bring them out of their sin and back into a relational life with him.
  • God also mentions a Savior in verse 11. This is important because Jesus is the only person that can allow us to have a relationship with God.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you understand how much God loves you and would love to have a relationship with you? Do you know that God wants you to be made righteous so that you can live a full, healthy life with him? If you've been exploring the idea of God, try taking some more steps and praying to him or talking with others about who God is.


Friday, June 15, 2018

June 15 - 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?)
  • A church from Macedonia was struggling with severe poverty issues yet they still gave generously and joyfully to others who had even greater needs. Paul says they gave above and beyond their means because they knew giving is a great privilege for a believer.
  • Paul then asks the Corinthians to be generous and follow through on the promises they had already made. He praises them for excelling in their faith and knowledge, but he encourages them to excel in giving as well. 
  • Paul says that he wants them to give in accordance with what they make. This is consistent with the teaching of the rest of the Bible, where we always see percentage giving.
  • He reminds them that the willingness to give is critical, and the goal of giving is equality. When the Corinthians have extra, they can supply what others need, and vice versa.
  • Paul then tells them he is sending Titus to Corinth to receive the financial gift and wants him to be welcomed.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • It is easy in a difficult financial situation to hold your money even tighter. But the Macedonians fought that temptation and gave away more than they could afford to give. They understood that everything is God's, and so they couldn't be tight-fisted about what they had.
  • Faith and knowledge of God is important, but giving is critical. Finances are a window into our hearts. Giving is a test of our love for God. The more we love him the more we are able to loosen our grip on money and give it back to him, and away to those in need.
  • Do you follow the Bible's teaching of percentage giving? One of the great things about online giving is that you can decide on the amount you believe God is calling you to give, and set it up to happen automatically. You can set up consistent online giving at: vivalaverve.org/donate/
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In one of the passages we’ve read before (Luke 12:22-34) Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We tend to spend our money on the things we value most. So, if someone examined how you spent your money, what would they say you value most?
    • Does how you use your money show that you truly value God?
    • If you truly love God, how do you need to change how you invest your money?
  • Are you "excelling in the grace of giving"? Not only did the Macedonians give way more than they should, they gave joyfully. Are you willing to give more? Are you able to give openly and joyfully, or does it feel mandatory and frustrating? How we feel about giving says a lot about our hearts. What can you do today to be like the generous Macedonians?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

Do you want to love God more? Allowing how generous He has been to us, to fill us up and overflow into everything we do is one way we can reciprocate our love. 

This weekend at Verve, we continue in the series, Inside Job, as we learn about our Generous God.

June 14 - 2 Corinthians 7

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 7. 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 concluding his thoughts from the previous chapter. He  reminds his readers to live with integrity in both body and spirit. Why? Out of love and reverence for God.
  • Paul then spends the remainder of the chapter writing about his personal feelings and deep affection for the Corinthians.
  • He recognizes that his last letter hurt their feelings. He feels a little regret for offending them, but realizes it was necessary to bring them to repentance. He refers to this as godly sorrow which leads to salvation and no regrets, whereas worldly sorrow leads to a lifetime of regret, sadness, and ultimately, death.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Paul shows us that we will all face sorrow. The difference is whether it is godly or worldly. Worldly sorrow is selfish. It doesn't really care who was hurt or what we can do about it. This leads us on a path of destruction to nowhere. Godly sorrow focuses on regret for how we have hurt God and others. This moves us to repentance, forgiveness, and real lasting life change. 
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you ever experienced either kind of sorrow mentioned in this chapter? When have you seen worldly sorrow that didn't really lead you to change anything in your life? When have you experienced godly sorrow that brought about true life change? What do you think was the difference between the two situations?
  • Where in your life should you be experiencing some godly sorrow now?