Saturday, June 6, 2020

June 6 - Psalm 62, 63, & 64

Today's reading in our daily plan is Psalms 62, 63, & 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 words of Psalm 62 sound like they’re written during a tough time for David (the author). It appears that he has people trying to hurt him but David is trusting in God. He said that only God is his safe hiding place.
  • Psalm 63 is a great psalm to pray to God. It talks about being completely satisfied with God and clinging to him like water in a desert.
  • In Psalm 64 David is talking to God about his enemies.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • David often compares wicked schemers to soldiers saying their "words [are] like [arrows] and that they "shoot from ambush." This is a good reminder of the power of words and how great evil can come without any real violence.
  • In Psalm 64, we see that David has faith that his enemies' own words and actions will be their undoing. People make bad choices that separate them from God and that is their fault. David understood that his enemies' choices were their own and the suffering they would endure (from God) was their fault, not God's.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • How are you at using your words in constructive ways, to build people up instead of tear them down? If you have recently hurt someone by what you've said, take time today to reach out to them.
  • Do you trust God like David does in Psalm 62? Are you at a point in your relationship with God that you search for him like David talks about in Psalm 63?

Friday, June 5, 2020

June 5 - 1 Corinthians 16

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 16. 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 the chapter by urging the Corinthians to set aside money every week to send back to the poor in Jerusalem. Caring for the poor has always been important to Paul. He mentions taking collections in Romans as well as 2 Corinthians. He encourages them to pick a few men who can make the journey to Jerusalem to deliver the funds. The letter of introduction mentioned was simply a way to show accountability for the money raised.
  • Apollos was considered an apostle, but verse 12 shows that there wasn’t really a hierarchy among them. They functioned more like family and less like an organization.
  • Paul tells the Corinthians to submit to people like those in the household of Stephanas. Notice he doesn’t have a title or office. That doesn't matter. Paul says to simply follow the leadership of people who live godly lives and work for God's kingdom.
  • Paul then sums up the book of I Corinthians by encouraging them to stand strong in their faith, be of good courage, and, most importantly, to love each other.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • Paul teaches us the importance of giving consistently. The Corinthians were giving their offerings once a week at church meetings. He also explains that we are to give in proportion to our income. 
  • Paul was important to the churches he started. However, the church was booming and he obviously could not be two places at once. This is why believers like Timothy, Apollos, and Priscilla and Aquila were so critical to the growth of the Christian community. While he had a great impact on the church, nothing could be accomplished if others were not willing to work with him. This holds true for the church today. Part of the job of leaders is to raise up other leaders so the church can grow and do more ministry.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • Do you give of your finances consistently, or just whenever the mood strikes you? Do you give a set percentage of your income? How does your giving need to change to better obey and honor God? 
  • Why do you attend church? Is it just for you? The household of Stephanas was made up of people who led by example by living for others. Where is God telling you to get involved?
  • It's powerful to have Bible verses memorized that we can tell ourselves when we need them. Verses 13-14 might provide a great passage to memorize from this book: "Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love."
Here's a helpful video from a great resource called BibleProject that reviews and summarizes the book of 1 Corinthians:

Thursday, June 4, 2020

This Weekend @ Verve!

Join us online this weekend at Verve for a special interview with former mobster, Michael Franzese!

June 4 - 1 Corinthians 15

Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 15. 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 this chapter with a reminder of the basics of Christianity. He gives them four key points:
    1. Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.
    2. He was buried
    3. He was raised on the third day.
    4. He appeared to Peter, to the twelve disciples, to more than five hundred people at the same time, to James, to all the apostles, and, last of all, to Paul.
  • Unfortunately, some Corinthians were claiming that there is no resurrection of the dead. Paul explains what a critical error that is. If there is no resurrection of the dead then Jesus could not have risen. And, without Jesus' resurrection, our faith is useless! He showed them the error of their thinking and how Jesus' resurrection gives us hope for life after death.
    1. After reiterating his message, Paul explains how disastrous it would be if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. We would still be in our sins and without hope.
    2. After explaining the importance of the resurrection, Paul briefly discusses baptizing for the dead. We're not exactly sure what he's referring to. This is the only place in the Bible this is mentioned. It may have been a weird practice only the Corinthians ever did.
    3. Paul finishes by giving his readers a peek into what life will be like after this life. Using an example from botany, he talks about the kind of body that God’s children will receive: a seed is planted and dies before growing into something completely new, which is so large in comparison that it must be described on a different scale. Similarly, the bodies we’ll have in heaven will be new and incomparable to our present bodies. 
    SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
    • The resurrection of Jesus is key to the Christian faith. And because Jesus rose from the dead, his followers can be confident that their sins are forgiven and that they will have life with God after death.
    NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
    • Have you ever studied the evidence for the resurrection so you can have a confident faith? If not, there is a ton of evidence you can study! We did a series at Verve (called Verdict) that you can watch online. There are also a bunch of great books you can read like The Case For EasterReason For God, and More Than A Carpenter.

    Wednesday, June 3, 2020

    June 3 - 1 Corinthians 14

    Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 Corinthians 14. 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 writes about the many spiritual gifts that God gives each of us. But, he focuses specifically on the gift of tongues and prophecy. By combining verses 3 and 32 from this chapter, we can define "prophecy" as speech that strengthens, encourages, comforts or convicts its hearers.
    • Prophecy is the gift of speech that strengthens, encourages, comforts, or convicts its listeners. He encourages this gift above others because it builds up the church and is meant for believers. 
    • Paul then writes about the gift of tongues. We first saw this gift in Acts 2 at Pentecost. Paul states that speaking in tongues is a good thing, however, interpretation of the language is a must. There are differing views on the definition of tongues. 
      • We see in the Bible that it was very clearly the ability to speak in a previously unlearned foreign language to enable a person to share the gospel with unbelievers. 
      • Some believe it also refers to a personal prayer language to God that edifies (builds up) the believer who uses the gift. That interpretation raises some questions:
        • How could praying in tongues be a private prayer language if it is to be interpreted (1 Corinthians 14:13-17)?
        • How could praying in tongues be for self-edification when the Bible says that spiritual gifts are for the edification of the church, not the self (1 Corinthians 12:7)?
        • How can praying in tongues be a private prayer language if the gift of tongues is a "sign to unbelievers" (1 Corinthians 14:22)?
        • The Bible makes it clear that not everyone possesses the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:11, 28-30). Why would God not give this gift to every believer, since we all need to be edified?
      • Scholars who do not view it as a personal prayer language believe that what Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 14 was the ability to pray in a foreign language, which could have been useful in a church like Corinth, where people from different nationalities might have been present. But, as Paul explains, it would only be acceptable if someone was there to interpret it for everyone to understand.
      • Regardless of how this is interpreted, the gift of tongues is not fundamental to the Christian faith. The idea of praying "in tongues" is only mentioned in this one book of the Bible, so it obviously wasn't considered essential to living the Christian life.
    • Paul's main point of discussion was the importance of order in worship gatherings. This is something we take for granted today. However, back when the church was starting, there was no structure or set way of doing things. As a result, things got crazy sometimes and everyone might get involved and anyone could share their opinions. Paul is asking the Corinthian church to establish some order in their services.
    • Paul also makes the point, in verses 22-25, that when believers gather to worship they must be careful not to confuse unbelievers. This is one of the things we always keep in mind at Verve, as we have unbelievers in our services every week.
    • Paul then makes a controversial statement that women need to keep silent in church. This teaching is debated, mostly because we don't fully understand the context in which he is saying it. However, we do know that women were generally not educated. As a result, historians believe that a problem existed in the Corinthian church where some women were disrupting the service by asking lots of loud questions. This is confirmed by Paul's statement "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their husbands at home." It is very unlikely that Paul is referring to educated women in leadership. This seems clear because in other places Paul mentions women who were involved in ministry. For instance, in Acts 18, takes Priscilla and her husband on a missionary journey. And, in Roman 16, he gives a very long list of women who are working hard for God's kingdom.
    SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
    • Paul makes it clear that God has given each of us spiritual gifts. But, he cautions they are to be used appropriately and should not cause confusion to anyone. Our gifts from God were given to help bring non-believers to Jesus and to build believers up in their faith. Spiritual gifts should not be sensationalized or used for any other reason. 

    NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
    • In your life, how might you be confusing people who are not believers? Is there anything about the way you act or talk that might give them the wrong idea about God, or what it means to follow Jesus?
    • In your life, how are you doing at instructing and encouraging other believers, and being instructed and encouraged by other believers? Where does that happen in your life? And, if it doesn't, where could you start to experience that?

    Tuesday, June 2, 2020

    June 2 - 1 Corinthians 13

    Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 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?)
    • This chapter defines real love: both God's love and the love we give to others. Chances are, you have heard these verses recited at a wedding before, but there's a lot more to it.

    SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
    • We learn that love is ultimate, and without love we are nothing and gain nothing.
    • Paul goes as far to say that we can have all the gifts, talents, and faith in the world. But if we don't love others, our life is a waste.
    • People often refer to love as a feeling, but we see here that it is actually an action. Love is... patient, kind, selfless, trusting, and so on. If we are to love, we must do something. This is why we see so many people "fall out of love." They are expecting something mushy and gooey, but love is work. Love is beautiful, but it's hard too.
    • This love comes from God and is what we're looking for in life. It's also the kind of love we're supposed to offer to others. (See 1 John 4:7-12)

    NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
    • Read verses 4-7. Each time the word "love" or "it" appears, replace it with your name. Does it sound right? Does it describe you? Are you patient and kind? Do you not envy or boast? The goal is too be so close to God that His love flows into us and increasingly shapes us every day. 
    • What action part of love do you need to work on today? Has someone wronged you and you need to forgive? Are you struggling with anger toward a family member and you need to let go? Do you want to just give up on your marriage instead of persevere? Did someone cut you off in traffic and you want to retaliate with the gift of a finger? Whatever it is, let God's love consume you today so that you are then full to offer love to others, no matter the difficult situation.
    • We often spend time with the people we love the most. So, how much time are you spending with God? The more time you spend in prayer and in his Word, the more his love can flow through you.

    Monday, June 1, 2020

    June 1 - 1 Corinthians 12

    Today's reading in our daily plan is 1 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 spends this chapter talking about "spiritual gifts." What is a spiritual gift? It’s a talent or ability God has given you (and you may have developed), that God can use for the good of his people.
    • We learn that God gives different gifts to different people, but all the gifts He gives show us something about him.
    • No gift is more important than another.
    • All the gifts must be used and work together like the parts of a body, or the church won't function properly and to its full effectiveness.
    • People in the church should not compare abilities, or be jealous of another's gifts, or feel independent and like they don't need other people and what they have to offer.
    SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
    • You have been gifted by God. God has given you abilities for you to use to serve Him and other people. You are supposed to use your gifts in combination with other people in your church so you can be a part of turning the world upside down by God.
    • You need to discover your gifts so you can know how to most effectively serve for the biggest impact.
    NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
    • Where are you serving at Verve? Perhaps you haven't volunteered because you think what you're good at isn't worth much, or like you couldn't make a big impact. But God has gifted you to make a difference! A great first step would be to sign up for a First Serve.
    • If you have been serving, are you developing your gifts? God has made you to make an impact, and he wants you to make the biggest impact you can for him. How can you develop the abilities God has given you so you can be even more effective in using them?