Friday, November 17, 2017

November 17 - 1 John 1

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 John 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?)
  • John wrote his "gospel" (the book of John) so people would believe in Jesus, but also wrote three letters we have in the Bible (including 1 John) to people who already believed. At the time of their writing (approximately AD 85-95), Christianity had gained a little importance and influence in the Roman world. There had become a temptation to merge Jesus’ teachings with other philosophies of the day. One popular philosophy was "Gnosticism." The Gnostics believed that people were body and spirit, and that sin resides only in the body, while the spirit concerns itself with the things of God. They believed that by acquiring knowledge (gnosis), one could transcend the mundane and enter the spiritual realm. Combining these principles with Christianity led to errant teachings that claimed sinful behavior with our body had no effect on spirituality, and also that Jesus could not have been God in bodily form. This letter of John's was written partially to combat some of these false teachings.
  • John starts out this letter by explaining that Jesus was someone "we have looked at and our hands have touched." He is attacking the false belief that Jesus didn't come to earth, or didn't have an actual body.
  • He goes on to say that "God is light; in him is no darkness at all."

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • John writes that if we say we have fellowship (or friendship) with God but "walk" in darkness, we are lying. The idea is that to know and have relationship with God will impact the way we think and act. If our lives aren't changing, we don't really have fellowship with God.
  • However, John explains that it won't mean that we never sin. In fact, he writes that if "we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves." So we will not be without sin, but we should have less and less sin in our lives if we are living in relationship with God.
  • What do we do about those sins we commit when we're in relationship with God (and shouldn't be committing sins)? John says that we need to confess those sins to God. When we do, God will forgive us and purify us.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where are you at when it comes to living in light or darkness? Has your character changed since you've started "walking" with God? If not, there is a problem. How are you doing with your thought life? With handling your finances in a godly way? In loving others? How has your relationship with God transformed your life?
  • When you do sin, do you tend to cover it up, or open up and confess it to God? Maybe take some time right now to reflect back on your last week or so and recognize where your life has been marked by darkness rather than light, and confess those sins to God.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

This Weekend @ Verve!

Feel like the problems of our world are just too much? Wonder if there's any hope for the future?

Jesus' return is a topic that has been talked about for years and years. Some have tried to predict when it will take place. Although the day and time is unknown to us, we can have hope in the promises Jesus gives us in the Bible while we look forward to the day He returns. Join us this weekend for our final message in Stranger Things.

November 16 - John 21

Today's reading in our daily plan is John 21. 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?)
  • Peter had, only a few days earlier, denied even knowing Jesus three times. This is Jesus and Peter's first real encounter since. Jesus asks Peter three times, “do you truly love me?” Peter had denied his friendship with Jesus three times, and perhaps Jesus is giving him the chance to make up for it.
  • After each question Peter responds affirmatively and then Jesus tells him to shepherd his flock. In this interaction Peter is reinstated as a leader in the Kingdom of God.
  • In verse 18, Jesus says something kind of cryptic about Peter's future. History tells us that Peter was eventually crucified (upside down) because of telling people about Jesus. Perhaps this is what Jesus is referring to.
  • The last verse John explains that no book could capture everything that happened in Jesus’ lifetime.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Peter had rejected Jesus, and deserves to be rejected by Jesus. But instead Jesus treats him with grace. He gives Peter the opposite of what he deserves, offering him unconditional love and a key leadership position in his movement. God's offer to us is grace as well.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Have you felt like things you have done make you deserve rejection by God, or as though God could never use your life? Know that just as Jesus forgave and restored Peter, he wants to do the same in your life. But you need to humbly go to him to receive this. Once you do, feel confident that you have been forgiven, and that God can use your life in a big way!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

November 15 - John 20

Today's reading in our daily plan is John 20. 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?)
  • Most scholars believe that when John refers to “the other disciple” (in verses 2-8), he is writing about himself.
  • After Mary Magdalene discovers Jesus is not the gardener he tells her, “do not hold on to me.” It could be that she wouldn't let go of Jesus because she was afraid he'd leave again. Or it might be that Jesus was trying to get Mary to focus, so he could send her to tell the disciples the news of his resurrection.
  • In verses 19-22 Jesus meets up with his disciples and tells them that he is sending them in the same way the Father had sent him. He then says, in verse 23, something that seems odd: "If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.“ Since the disciples were to continue Jesus' mission of telling everyone about God's offer of salvation, it could be that Jesus is referring to the forgiveness that comes from accepting the message. So, rephrasing Jesus’ words, it could be: “Those who receive your message will be forgiven; but those who don’t receive your message will not be forgiven.”
  • Thomas is not there when all the other disciples see Jesus risen from the dead. He expresses doubt over whether Jesus had truly risen. Jesus, in response, shows up for Thomas and gives him what he needs to believe.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • John ends this chapter by explaining that his purpose in writing was to help people come to faith in Jesus. That is God's desire for everyone. God sent Jesus because he loves the world and wants everyone to know him and to have real and eternal life through him.
  • In verse 21 Jesus gives us the same mission God gave him: "As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." We now have the responsibility of helping people to know God and find life in him.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Where are you at with faith? Have you come to believe in Jesus? If not, what holds you back? What questions or doubts do you still have? And, like Thomas, have you voiced those concerns -- to God, and to some people who might be able to help you?
  • If you have come to faith, do you understand that your mission is to help other people come to faith? Have you accepted that mission? Who are a few people God has put in your life who don't believe, who you can show the love of God to and lead towards Jesus? Take some time to pray for them.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14 - John 19


Today's reading in our daily plan is John 19. 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?)
  • John was an eyewitness of the crucifixion and gives many details of what happened. He chooses not to comment on what happened, or to share his feelings about it, but simply to report on the events.
  • It's possible that Pilate said, "Here is the man!" (in verse 5) because Jesus had been whipped and beaten so severely that no one could have possibly recognized him.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All that happened to Jesus - the beatings, the cross-carrying and the crucifixion happened so that we can have eternal life; so we can know God in this life and be with him forever in the life to come. Jesus didn’t deserve to be on the cross. We, however, do deserve it. He took what we deserve so we can have life.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Jesus gave his life for us; what do you need to give up for Jesus?
  • Take some time to thank Jesus for what he did for you on the cross.

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13 - John 18


Today's reading in our daily plan is John 18. 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?)
  • Though Jesus has never broken a law or committed a crime, he is arrested. The religious leaders have heard Jesus teach a completely different way of approaching God, so they see him as a threat to their power.
  • Jesus then goes through a series of trials, during which he refuses to defend himself. Jesus came to do the will of God and make a way for us to have a relationship with God and go to Heaven. He came to earth to die.
  • While Jesus is on trial, people approach Peter and accuse him of being one of Jesus' followers. Peter, afraid that he will be killed with Jesus, denies knowing him.
  • A criminal named Barabbas, who was guilty and actually deserved to be punished, is released, while Jesus, who is innocent and deserves no punishment, is sentenced to death.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Jesus was completely committed to doing God's will, even when it's not what's best for him. We need to live life the same way.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Is there something you believe God wants you to do that you'd rather not do? Choose to trust God and do it.
  • The religious leaders didn't do what they should have because their power was threatened. Peter didn't do what he should have because his life was threatened. What is it that tends to make you feel threatened and keeps you from doing what God wants?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Confused Friends

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 Stranger Things and talked about "The Confused Friends". If you missed it, you can listen to it here.
  1. Have you started listening to Christmas music since November has started or are you waiting until after Thanksgiving? If you don't like Christmas music, what kind of music do you prefer to listen to?
  2. What is a quality you desire to find in a group of friends? Why?
  3. Why do you think Jesus chose to use people who were average?
  4. Tell us about a time you were chosen for something unlikely or you saw someone get chosen for something in an unlikely manner.
  5. Read Luke 5:1-3 in the Bible. Why do you think Jesus chose to use Simon's boat?
  6. Have you ever witnessed God showing up when you least expected it? If so, tell us about it. If not, tell us about a time in your life you would have loved God to show up unexpectedly.
  7. Read Luke 5:6-7. 
  8. What do you think Simon and the others were thinking when both boats were all of a sudden overflowing with fish after they had fished all day and hadn't caught anything? What reaction would you have if God suddenly blessed your work beyond belief?
  9. Do you believe Jesus demonstrates his power so we will follow him, not so we will stay where we are? Why or why not?
  10. How does it make you feel knowing God can use you just as you are?
  11. Weekly Check In Question:  What could we be praying for you this week? (Is this there something good we could celebrate with you, or a challenge you need God's help with?)