Sunday, June 16, 2019

Dream to Destiny: Overcoming Bitterness

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 Dream to Destiny and talked about Overcoming BitternessIf you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. Describe your favorite meal- appetizer, drink, entree and/ or dessert.
  2. How do you punish the people you are bitter towards?
  3. Read Genesis 45:4-5 in the Old Testament of the Bible. When have you gotten to experience God going before you in your life to prepare a way for you?
  4. Do you think you would be able to forgive your brothers if you were Joseph? Why or why not?
  5. What part of forgiveness is the hardest for you? Releasing the right to retaliate, restoring the relationship, or recognizing the sovereignty of God? Why?
  6. Have you accepted God's forgiveness? If so, how does this help you in forgiving others in your life? If not, what's holding you back from accepting it?
  7. If you were in Joseph's shoes, how would you have handled seeing your brothers for the first time in 23 years when the last time you saw them, they sold you into slavery?
  8. Who have you struggled to forgive in your life? Have you forgiven them? If so, tell us about it. If not, what's preventing you from taking that next step?
  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 16 - Daniel 3

Today's reading in our daily plan is Daniel 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?)
  • King Nebuchadnezzar creates an image (statue) of gold and demands everyone to worship it.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (pretty fun to say out loud, try it!) believe in God and refuse to give their worship to anyone or anything else. When they refuse, the King orders that they be burned to death in a large industrial furnace. 
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are given another chance to worship the idol but refuse. They tell the King that they know God is able to save them, even from the inferno of a burning furnace. They say "But even if he does not" they will still not give their worship to anything else.
  • Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the fire where they are (miraculously) joined by either an angel or (many theologians believe) Jesus.
  • They are not burned and Nebuchadnezzar is so amazed that he turns his faith to God and promotes Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We are all tempted to worship things other than God. To worship is to view something as valuable, to love and be devoted to something. If there is anything we treat as more valuable than God, that we love and are devoted to more than God, we are worshiping that thing. One way to know you are worshiping something over God is if you won't do what God says with it. For instance:
    • God says to give 10% of our money to Him. If we won't, we are valuing money more than Him.
    • God tells us to not have sex with anyone we're not married too. If we do, we are valuing sex more than God.
    • God tells us not to lie to or gossip about other people. If we do, we are valuing their approval or our image more than God.
  • God tells us that we are not to worship anything but Him (see Exodus 20:3-6 and Matthew 6:33). That's because (1) He deserves our worship, (2) because nothing else is worthy of or can handle, and (3) because our lives will get all messed up if we put anything other than God first in our lives.
  • When we face difficult situations or when we are pressured by others to do something that violates our faith in God or the character He's called us to live with, we need to be faithful to Him and trust that He will get us through it. But "even if He does not" God is still worthy of all our worship. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego knew that was true, and we have an advantage over them. Jesus has come for us and died for us. God did the worst thing to Himself because it was the thing we needed most; He saved us from our sin. We can trust that He would do anything for us.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • What are you tempted to put above God? Where are you pressured to not be faithful to or to sin against God?
    • Will you take a stand like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did, putting God first, no matter what?
    • Will you trust God and be faithful, even if things don't go the way you want them to?
    • Who can you get to support you?

Saturday, June 15, 2019

June 15 - Daniel 2

Today's reading in our daily plan is Daniel 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?)
  • Back at this time, dreams were often considered messages from "the gods." Wise men were expected to be able to interpret dreams.
  • King Nebuchadnezzar gave the "wise men" a seemingly impossible task. Instead of telling his dream and asking for an interpretation (which, obviously, could have just been a guess), he asks his advisors to tell him what he dreamed and to interpret it. No one can, and the King orders they all be killed.
  • In chapter one we saw that Daniel, who was a young man who was faithful to God, was made to serve the King. He is thus considered one of the King's wise men, and so he is to be executed as well. Daniel, with "wisdom and tact" convinced the men to give him time before they kill him.
  • Daniel asks his three friends who are also faithful to God to pray for him.
  • Daniel is able to tell the King what he dreamed and the correct interpretation. Daniel gives all the credit to God for this ability.
  • The King elevates Daniel (and his three friends) into powerful leadership positions.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All of the wise men of Babylon faced a seemingly hopeless, impossible situation. But for Daniel it was not impossible. It wasn't impossible because he had God. Jesus once said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26). When faced with a hopeless situation, Daniel turned to God and had his faith-filled friends pray for him. God came through and the impossible became possible.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • What seemingly impossible situation are you facing? Maybe ... your marriage feels like it's falling a part? You can't find a job? Your kid is rebelling? You're stuck in an addiction? You're broke? Do you assume there's no hope or do you believe that with God all things are possible? Do you turn to God in faith? Do you ask faith-filled friends to pray for you? When the situation changes, will you give God all your praise and all the credit?

Friday, June 14, 2019

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?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

This Weekend @ Verve!

Forgiveness. Easier said than done, right? If we're going to step into our destiny, we need to overcome bitterness and move past our past.

Join us this weekend at Verve as we continue in the series, Dream to Destiny.

June 13 - 2 Corinthians 6

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 6. 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 starts this chapter by stating that, in order to prevent his ministry from being discredited, he doesn’t put stumbling blocks in people's path. It is Paul’s desire to reach everyone he can with the gospel and to make sure no one is confused about it. He takes great lengths to accomplish this, and verses 4-10 show some examples.
  • Later, Paul talks about not being "yoked" together with unbelievers. A yoke is a wooden bar that fits across the necks of two animals used to pull a plow or wagon. Paul uses this analogy for relationships between believers and unbelievers. He says that people who follow Jesus shouldn’t enter into official partnerships with those who don’t follow Jesus. However, he doesn’t use the word "associate." Jesus associated with people who had a reputation for being sinners. But entering into a binding relationship or agreement with someone who doesn’t share your trust in Jesus is asking for trouble because you don't have the most important, foundational things in common.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Paul writes that as a servant of God, he can commend himself in every way (verse 4). He's saying that people can examine his life and they would find nothing that would impair his integrity or raise questions. That should be the goal for all of us. Because we believe in, represent, and serve God we need to live lives that are above reproach.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • If people examined your life, and knew everything, would there be some secrets that came out that would damage your reputation or be embarrassing? Would it make God look bad? God wants to help you to make changes and live a life you (and He) can be proud of. How could you get God's help to make those changes? What friend could you confide in and get help from?
  • If you’re considering moving into a binding agreement with someone who doesn't share your faith, walk away. If you're already in one, seek out a wise believing friend to help you navigate through the situation.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

June 12 - 2 Corinthians 5

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 5. 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 first section, Paul refers to our bodies as temporary homes. We will not be in them forever. But we have the promise of eternity in heaven with God where we will groan no more.
  • Paul reminds us that this journey is by faith. We may not see God visibly, but he is there, waiting to take us home to heaven.  When we die, we will face God's judgment for things we've done, both good and bad.  This is why Paul says we should make it our goal to please God.
  • As followers of Jesus, we should feel compelled to share his love with others. To know Jesus is to want everyone to know Jesus. When we are reconciled to God, we become new from the inside out. It is then our responsibility to share the message that Jesus died for all, so that our sins won't count against us. As a result, we can be right with God.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Death can seem scary.  But, when we realize that death of the body just means we are in heaven with God, the fear of death is taken away.
  • We are Christ's ambassadors. We are to represent Jesus to this world and share God's message - that Jesus died for us because God loves us and wants a relationship with us.
  • If people say yes to God's offer they become a "new creation" and the "old has gone." This is really good news! We all want a second chance at life, a new start, and that's exactly what God is offering us!

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Are you representing Jesus well in the way you live your life? Do you look for opportunities to share the message of reconciliation with them - that God loves them, provided a way to have a relationship with them, and if they say yes they get a new start and a life with God? Are there people you are (lovingly and graciously, but persistently) inviting to church? If not, you are missing out on your mission as a follower of Jesus. So how could you get started engaging in the mission?