Tuesday, April 24, 2018

April 24 - Romans 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is Romans 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 book of Romans was written by Paul. His intended readers were the thousands of people living in Rome. His purpose was to write a clear and concise explanation of the Christian faith to a city that was the center of world power at the time.
  • Paul makes it clear that "righteousness," a term for being made right with God, comes not from living a "good life" but only through faith in Jesus.
  • Paul then explains that without God we are depraved, or immoral, people. Verse 21 says that we may know about God, but it doesn't mean we know Him. God gives us free will to choose whether we want to follow the truth or not. If our decision is no, verse 24 tells us that God will give us over to our sinful desires and worshipping idols. Idols are anything we value more than God.
  • In verses 26-31, Paul lists sins of those who have turned away from God.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The general path humans take is to turn away from the one true God and toward sin, thus making something else god. This path is self-destructive, and we don't want to take it.
  • Romans 1 talks about God's wrath against sin. We see all throughout the Bible that God is love. But God hates sin. And God's hatred of sin is loving because sin destroys us and the lives and relationships of the people God loves. So, the most loving thing God can do is hate the presence of sin in our lives.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What path are you on? Are you seeking truth or trying to run from it? What is it that you're looking to for ultimate satisfaction and fulfillment? Whatever it is, that is what you worship. So is it God? Or a person? Or money? Or your job? Or physical fitness? Decide today to make God the god of your life, and to worship Him alone.
  • What sin is in your life? In turning away from God, what sins have you turned to? Decide today to turn away from that sin and back to God. Ask God to help you, and consider confiding in a trusted friend who can support you.

Monday, April 23, 2018

April 23 - Acts 28

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 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?)
  • Paul and his companions experience a shipwreck while sailing from Crete to Italy, where Paul is expected to stand trial before Caesar. All the passengers on the ship made it safely to shore, just as Paul had predicted (see Acts 27:22).
  • The island they land on is named Malta. The people were very kind and welcoming.
  • The leader of the island, Publius, has a father who is very sick. Paul prays for healing and God answers. When word gets out about this miracle, everyone on the island who is sick comes to see Paul for healing as well.
  • After 3 months on the island, Paul and his companions finally sail to Italy and make it to Rome. 
  • Paul is on house arrest for 2 years, but he still takes the opportunity to share about Jesus, explain Christianity, and answer the Jews' question about this new "sect." 

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • As the book of Acts comes to a close, we have watched Paul's patient journey from Jerusalem to Rome. Paul never gave up faith that God would come through on his promise to make it to Rome. Now we get to see that promise fulfilled in today's reading. We also get to see his deep faith in action one more time, when he is bitten by a viper. Paul didn't fear the snake because he trusted God and knew if God wanted him in Rome, he was going to Rome, and not even a deadly snake bite could prevent that.
  • The chapter ends with God's promise fulfilled, but perhaps not the way Paul expected. Paul is in Rome, but he is on house arrest. Yet we see Paul make the best of it: although he cannot go to the synagogue and share about Jesus anymore, he asks the people to come to him. And they do. Paul continued to preach boldly about Jesus for the next two years.
  • Sometimes it can be difficult to believe God is going to come through on his promises; we can become negative and bitter when everything is going wrong. We should instead live by Paul's example and be patient on the journey, because life with Jesus is a journey and it may not look the way we'd hoped. It may even include a few snake bites on the way. But God will always see us through if we fully trust and rely on him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Paul finally made it to Rome, but was still in a difficult situation. However, he didn't use that as an excuse to sit around and do nothing. He still used his gift of preaching to make a difference in people's lives. We need to do the same. God desires for us to serve others by using our gifts, even during the hard times. Do you have any areas of your life that you feel God has gifted you that you aren't using? Pray that God will give you opportunities to share with others what he has done in your life.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Saved By God's But: When You Need to Be Forgiven

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 Saved By God's But and talked about "When You Need to Be Forgiven". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. What are your favorite songs from your teenage years that you still rock out to when nobody is listening?
  2. When have you done something you thought you could get away with and later had to admit you were guilty?
  3. Read Romans 5:6-8 in the New Testament of the Bible. How does that make you feel that Christ died for you while you were still a sinner? Why?
  4. Read Romans 6:21-23 in the New Testament of the Bible. How has being set free from sin changed your life?
  5. Do you ever struggle with salvation being a gift and not something you earn? Why or why not?
  6. Have you been baptized? Why or why not?
  7. Will you let God love you? Why or why not?
  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?)

April 22 - Isaiah 45

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 45. 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 gives greater detail into the appointment of Cyrus and how he will help in freeing Israel from Babylon and restore them. God addresses that He is the only God and that everything we see around us flows from Him. He also points out that it is a mistake to argue and turn against God since He is the one that initially created everything (including us as humans). He brings this about in depth when he gives an analogy of a piece of clay asking a potter what He’s making and why He’s doing it.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • It’s worth noting that Cyrus was a Persian and a pagan (non-Israelite) and that God decided to use Cyrus for good and to fulfill His will. This goes to show that God can do mighty things through anyone!
  • The clay analogy is an odd picture to think about, but people do this all the time when they believe that they know best and turn away from what God wants.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • The story of Cyrus should be encouraging because if God was able to use a pagan man to accomplish His works, then think about how much God can do if we do put our faith in Him.
  • If you have questions, it’s better to turn toward God than away from Him. As it says in verse 12, “It is I who made the earth and created mankind on it”, so if you have questions for God but have been reluctant to ask, ask them today. He’s big enough to handle what you’re wondering.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

April 21 - Isaiah 44

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 44. 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 detailed description of the foolishness of idol makers is illustrated. In verses 9-20, the process that a blacksmith and carpenter go through in creating idols and worshipping them, is described. It is highlighted that the men who create the idols are weak and stupid and that it is completely irrational to be worshipping everyday, household items (wood and different types of metal).
  • Later in the chapter, the direction switches and God reminds the Israelites that they will not be forgotten and that they have been redeemed. In verses 24-28, God claims to be the Redeemer and to raise Jerusalem back to what it once was (at the time, Israel was not yet destroyed and scattered but they soon would be). The name of the deliverer, Cyrus, is also announced.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Nowadays, people aren’t carving objects out of wood and metal to worship like they did thousands of years ago but the principle remains the same. It is foolish to worship something that isn’t God. Whether that is another person, a sport, your phone, or even your job, placing things above God will only bring about disappointment.
  • The announcement of Cyrus’ name is “yuuuuuge”. The reason why it’s such a big deal is because Cyrus didn’t actually deliver Jerusalem for another 200 years! There are hundreds of prophecies in the Old and New Testament but few are as detailed as this specific passage. This only brings about greater validity to what is written in the Bible.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there something in your life that you are putting extended time, care and enjoyment in? There is nothing wrong with having passions for things, but if it’s hit you that those things could potentially be getting in the way of your time with God, then take a step back and re-evaluate.

Friday, April 20, 2018

April 20 - Acts 27

Today's reading in our daily plan is Acts 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?)
  • Paul, as a prisoner, is put on a ship that sails from the Israeli coast to the southwest corner of modern Turkey.
  • There the Centurion takes him on another ship heading for Italy, but the heavy winds require them to reroute to the island of Crete.
  • After being blown out into the open sea, eventually they shipwreck off an island named Malta.  

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Though the ship was at the mercy of the weather, we find out it was more at the mercy of God.  Even in the midst of this difficulty, God was ultimately in control, seeing to it that Paul and all of those sailing with him would survive so that Paul could stand trial before Caesar.  
  • God had promised Paul over two years ago that he would get to share the gospel in Rome. It seemed like it would never happen, especially with the ship lost at sea. But in one of Paul's darkest hours, God sent an angel to encourage him and assure him that God had not forgotten his promise. God never forgets his promises.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In what ways could you be an encouragement to people going through difficult times?  Are there ways that you could provide for their needs or give them a chance to escape for a while?  
  • It may seem like God's promises will never happen, but our timeline is not God's timeline. Be patient and keep your heart and mind open for the people that God brings into your life.  When life is tough ask God for encouragement so that you might be able to encourage others going through similar tough times.  

Thursday, April 19, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

Have you ever been guilty of doing something wrong? Don't worry, we all have and thankfully, we don't have to live with that guilt forever.

This weekend at Verve, we are continuing the series, Saved by God's But: When You Need to Be Forgiven. Be there!