Sunday, June 24, 2018

Inside Job: Generous People

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 concluded the series called Inside Job and talked about "Generous People". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. If you had to endorse a brand, which brand would it be and why?
  2. Do you consider yourself to be a generous person? Why or why not?
  3. Do you have a desire to be more generous? Why or why not?
  4. Read Malachi 3:8-9 in the Old Testament of the Bible. Have you ever considered it to be robbing God when you don't tithe? Why or why not?
  5. Have you ever put God to the test when it comes to tithing like verse 10 of Malachi chapter 3? If so, what happened? If not, what keeps you from putting God to the test?
  6. What does it mean to give cheerfully in your opinion? Why?
  7. Does a random act of kindness mean more to you or something you knew was coming? Why?
  8. What's a non material way God has blessed you?
  9. When you are generous, is your motivation so people say nice things or think highly of you or so they thank God for your generosity? Why?
  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?)

June 24 - Isaiah 65

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 65. 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 tells of how He called His people before they even searched for Him. He also lists some of the ways that the Israelites disobeyed His laws that were given to them and how even in spite of this, they still considered themselves spiritually better than others.
  • In verses 8-9, God reminds us that He will always protect the few who remain loyal to Him, no matter how bad the rest of the world is. He then goes on to compare the differences in the hearts and lives of those who are faithful to Him and those who turn away.
  • The final part of this passage is God’s description of His new heavens and new earth for His people. These will be places of eternal peace and rejoicing and no one will even remember how things existed before that time. God promises a life of blessings and that He will answer their prayers before they even finish speaking the words.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God chose the Israelites to be His people by His own will, not by the Israelites actions or their request. God provided them with His laws for correct living and He alone will judge those who disobeyed. However, He will always show mercy to the "faithful,” or people who remain loyal to him.
  • God wants His people to have the tranquil and harmonious life that He will create for those who genuinely love and obey Him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you find it hard to trust God when it seems like everyone around you is turning away from Him? Remember that God desires you to be close to Him and He wants to give peace and comfort to those who are devoted to Him. 
  • Today, ask God to help you lean into Him and to remind you of how much love He has for you, even – and especially -- if you feel like you are lonely.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

June 23 - Isaiah 64

Today's reading in our daily plan is Isaiah 64. 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 first half of this chapter begins with a prayer for God to appear in His mighty power once again. The Israelites had experienced God’s presence at a place called Mount Sinai (see Exodus 19:16-19) with the intensity of nature through a thunderstorm, smoke, and an earthquake.
  • In the second half, we are reminded that works (“our righteous acts”) do not make us clean. Sin makes us unclean as though we are dressed in filthy rags.
  • This passage ends with acknowledgement that God, in His judgement of our sins, may destroy us just as the potter may destroy the pot he has made. God’s holy lands and cities of Zion, Jerusalem, and the temple are already deserted and destroyed. And a final request, seeking to know if God will refuse to come to their aid.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • God’s appearance is so intense that it is like a consuming fire that burns everything in its path. The only way we can be saved is by God’s mercy.
  • This passage reminds us that God will not accept us based on our good actions and behaviors. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God. Our only hope is faith in Jesus Christ who can cleanse us and bring us into God’s presence.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you feel weighed down by the thoughts and actions that bring destruction into your own life? Are you constantly trying to balance the scale by “doing good” in an attempt to earn God’s grace? Only Jesus can carry us into closer relationship with God who created you and who wants to be in relationship with you.
  • Today, what if you picked one habit you need to change, and intentionally asked God throughout the day to help you overcome it? On our own, we can’t overcome temptation. But God gives us the power to overtake our hurts and hang-ups.

Friday, June 22, 2018

June 22 - 2 Corinthians 13

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 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?)
  • Paul closes his letter to the Corinthians with strong words. He tells them that he will be visiting again for a third time. He hopes they'll have dealt with the sins they had been struggling with the previous two times he visited. 
  • He also makes it clear that they have been so busy judging him that they haven't examined themselves. He wants them to take time to consider whether they really live in the truth of the God.
  • And, finally, he wants them to aim for perfection, to think about what he wrote them, and try to get along and live in peace. He shares that they can do this, even when they are weak, through God's power.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • The people of Corinth had judged Paul's faith when they should have been judging their own. Jesus taught us not to be concerned with the "speck" in someone else's eye, but instead to focus on our own sin (see Matthew 7:3-4). Like the Corinthians, we should examine ourselves 'to see whether we are in the faith.'
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Take some time for self-examination. Are you too busy criticizing how other people live to deal with the issues in your own life? Some questions you could ask yourself include:
    • Do I really love God and people?
    • What's the real motivation for the good things I do?
    • Does God’s Holy Spirit affirm my faith (for more, see Romans 8:9,16)?
    • Do my actions honor Jesus?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

This Weekend @ Verve!

When we choose to be generous with our time, energy, and resources, we not only bless others, but we share how generous God has been to us. Generous people understand God gives generously to them so they can imitate this with other people.

This weekend at Verve, we conclude the series, Inside Job, as we talk about Generous People.

June 21 - 2 Corinthians 12

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 12. 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 sharing his credentials, reminding them that, like the false teachers the Corinthians had been listening to, he had also seen visions and revelations from God. He  mentions a man who was caught up into the third heaven and heard things that he was not permitted to tell. Most scholars believe, according to references in verse 1, 5 and 6 that Paul is actually referring to himself. The "third heaven" may refer to where God dwells, as opposed to our atmosphere and outer space, which could be considered the first and second heavens.
  • Paul refers to a thorn in his side that torments him, which he begged God to take away. No one knows for sure what or who the thorn was. Some scholars believe it was a physical condition, while others think it was a temptation.  Regardless, one thing was clear: God told Paul he would not take the torment away, but instead said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God wanted Paul to rely on him instead of his own strength.
  • Paul makes the point that children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. Paul is like a parent to the Corinthians and never wants to burden them.
  • Paul is visiting them soon and is very concerned about what he will find when he shows up. He is distressed about the rumors of disobedience to Jesus.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We are taught to brag about our strengths in order to get into school, or to get that new job or new girlfriend. God's ways are different than our ways. It is only in weakness that we learn to rely on God. It is tempting in our culture to claim, "I've got this. I can do it." But God says we can't experience his power and presence unless we accept our weakness and give it to him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • We all have "thorns" that torment us.
    • Maybe yours is an illness you must endure. Or maybe it's a broken relationship, former abuse, or an addiction you can't seem to stop. 
  • But just like Paul, God's grace is sufficient for us. God is strong when we are weak. Let your struggle drive you into the arms of God. Let God use your "thorn" for his kingdom.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

June 20 - 2 Corinthians 11

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Corinthians 11. 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 the defense of himself he started in Chapter 10.
  • Paul views himself as a kind of "spiritual father" to the Corinthians. He feels like it's his job to watch out for them, and he fears that they are being led astray. 
  • Paul compares the Corinthian Christians to an unfaithful bride, and then to Eve, from the story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, when she disobeys God and eats the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3). Just like Eve the Corinthians have been deceived and were following false teachers. They cared more about credentials, power, and eloquence than they did the real truth of God.
  • Paul "lowers" himself to boasting about his own credentials to make a point. He explains that he is full of knowledge, has never taken a penny from them, and that his suffering and weakness are proof that his life is truly lived for God. Paul is sharing what really proves he is a servant of Jesus.
  • Why did Paul resort to this kind of boasting? Because the Corinthians were being diverted from their sincere devotion to Christ and he was willing to do anything to help them. He wanted to show these "super apostles" for what they were, by explaining what truly reveals a person is serving God.
  • He makes a statement about Satan, stating that he “masquerades as an angel of light.” What Paul means is that the enemy often portrays himself as a messenger from God. He is a "wolf in sheep's clothing." This is why we must closely examine the ideas we hear and the teaching we receive, to make sure it really does align with the truth of God's Word as given to us in the Bible.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We need to know God's Word well enough that we recognize it if someone is trying to deceive us or lead us away from truth.
  • The good news of God is that we get to live life relying on His grace. His grace isn't only what gets us into Heaven in the future; it's what we rely on to get through everyday. That means instead of being ashamed of our weaknesses, or trying to hide or compensate for our weaknesses, we can be proud of and boast in them. Why? Because they force us to rely on God all the more.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • God cares about our heart's devotion to him more than eloquent words or fancy resumes. Satan will constantly try to distract us like Eve to shinier, prettier things, but we need to simply hold onto the Word of God and stay strong.
  • The fact that you're doing this Bible study today shows that you are committed to growing in your knowledge of God's Word. Way to go! This will help you to recognize what is not true, and to build your life on what is true. Keep reading the Bible every day!
  • Take joy in the fact that you have a God who loves you perfectly, and who is strong. His strength can come into your weaknesses, which means you can boast in your weaknesses.