We’re Preparing for Future Ministry: Day 1

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     Day 1: Looking Forward

Take just a moment to consider how often you’re thinking about what’s coming next in your day? In all likelihood you’re doing this dozens of a day without even realizing it. You’re thinking about what you’ll have for breakfast, what errands you need to run, what classes will be like, what to say (or not say) at the meeting you don’t want to attend, who will take the kids to soccer practice, and much more. 

Then out of the blue, somebody asks you to think really far ahead. They ask the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Upon hearing the question you may tense up, thinking to yourself, “I barely pause to think about what’s coming up next week or next month, let alone where I’ll be five years from now!”

Don’t worry, this is completely normal. But even though we can’t always see where we’ll be five years from now, it’s still important to prepare for what’s next. We prepare for school. Prepare for work. Prepare for marriage. Prepare for kids. Prepare for dinner. Prepare for retirement. And more. 

At South Ridge Church, we may not know exactly where we’ll be in five years. But we do know that we’re preparing for future ministry. As you read today, consider this: How is God preparing you for future ministry?

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 16:1-6

How is God preparing you for future ministry? 

Think about it: how may God be inviting you to partner with SRC for future ministry? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Esther 5, 6, & 7

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I confess that I’m regularly thinking about the things I need to do without paying close attention to the things You are doing in and around me. As we begin this new message series, I pray that You will open my eyes to the many ways You are already at work around me, so that I can simply join You in Your work. 

Additionally, I pray for the future ministry of our church, and that You will continue to lead and guide me towards knowing and fulfilling the role in which you’ve called me. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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What’s Next Devotional & Scripture Reading Guide: Introduction

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This Reading Guide has been designed for use during “What’s Next” Message Series                            South Ridge Church – March — April 2019

A Note from Pastor Justin:

In the New Testament, Paul writes a letter to some of the very first Christians in the ancient city of Corinth. Within this letter, three major themes are shared. These themes may be summarized by the phrases:

  • Embrace who you are
  • Embrace how to live
  • Embrace what’s next 

Throughout 2019, South Ridge Church has been taking an in depth look at Paul’s letter, taking the opportunity to study, “Who We Are,” and “How We Live,” as outlined in 1 Corinthians. Now, we’re going to take the opportunity to consider, “What’s Next?” 

This 4-week series will be a great opportunity for you to consider your role in the following: (1) What’s my role in partnering with SRC for future ministry? (2) What’s my role in ministering to others? (3) What’s my role in believing the message of Christ? And (4) What’s my role in passing on the message of Christ? 

It’s my hope that this Reading Guide will help you consider questions such as these, and that you will prayerfully consider how God can work within you and through you to accomplish His will. 

As we begin this new message series, we encourage you to:

  • Commit to joining us every week of this series.
  • Commit to reading through this Reading Guide, reflecting well on the questions provided within each daily reading.
  • Use a good Study Bible and/or other resources as you read through this Reading Guide. Some recommendations include the NLT Study Bible, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, among others. Refer to https://southridgeblog.com/study-bible-info for more information on many excellent Study Bibles available today.
  • Write down questions you have about what you’re reading, and take opportunities to seek out answers to those questions. 

We Live in Equality: Day 5

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     Day 5: Reflection

READING: PROVERBS 22:2

What did the Scripture readings this week reveal to you about the grace and love of God?         

What did you learn about yourself this week?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 12

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Write out your own prayer to God today.

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We Live in Equality: Day 4

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     Day 4: Be Equal

Did you know that only 500 words make up over 90% of our everyday language? It’s true. While our vocabulary is vast, we generally rely on a minority of words to communicate the majority of our speech. 

One word that is not one of the most commonly used words in our culture is equality. Not only is it not one of the 500 most commonly used words, it’s not even in the top 1,000. 

While it’s impossible to know how regularly words like ‘equal’ or ‘equality’ were used in ancient Corinth, it’s clearly one of the themes Paul presents in his writings. But Paul doesn’t just say, “Live in equality.” He goes one step further. Whether writing to the people of Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, or other cities, Paul emphasized that Christians already are equal. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, rich or poor, black or white, married or unmarried. What matters is Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection, and following Him. Jesus didn’t discriminate based on sex, status, or wealth, and one of the marks of Christianity is to be followers of Jesus, becoming more and more like Him each and every day. As you read today, consider this: How would you define equality? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-33, MARK 2:13-17

How would you define equality?

On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think Christians today are setting a godly example regarding equality?  

How may God be inviting you to better share with others what His Word says regarding equality? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 11

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that the topic of equality sometimes leads to tense conversations, as there are many different thoughts and opinions about what it means to live in equality. Today I pray that I would not fear conversations about equality, but I would instead embrace them. I pray that You would help me better listen to those who have a different perspective. That You would give me wisdom to learn from these other perspectives. And that You would bring to light any ungodly thoughts I may have about inequality of wealth, gender, or race. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live in Equality: Day 3

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     Day 3: Be United

According to a 2017 study, 1% of the world’s population has 50% of the world’s wealth. Other statistics indicate that just 6% of the world’s population has 72% of the world’s wealth.

This is not to say that every one of the world’s wealthiest individuals are immoral. But it does show that, overall, the world’s richest individuals likely have a different view of lower class society than those who have little wealth. Similarly, those with little wealth likely have a different view of upper class society than those who have tremendous wealth. 

In the ancient city of Corinth, the wealthy and the poor struggled with this dynamic as well, even within the church. Wealthy church members were continuing to have large dinner gatherings with their friends, while poor church members were going hungry. Upon learning of this, Paul was enraged. He writes, “What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter (11:22)!”

Instead, Paul encouraged all Christians, whether rich or poor, men or women, to come together for the Lord’s Supper. He desired each individual to examine him/herself, to identify any ungodly thoughts or actions they may have about wealth or gender. As you read today, consider this: How regularly do you examine your thoughts and actions regarding those of a different wealth? Gender? Race?

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-33

How regularly do you examine your thoughts and actions regarding those of a different wealth? Gender? Race?

How may God be inviting you to give more time and attention to thinking about wealth, gender, or race? Be specific. 

Who can you ask to help you follow through on how you answered the above question?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 10

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, Your Word is clear in communicating the importance of unity among Your people. I confess there are times when unity is hard for me. There are times when I get frustrated with a fellow Christian. There are times when I get frustrated about things that are outside my control. Today, I’m simply reminded that most of life is outside my control. But one thing inside my control is how well I follow You, and how well I choose to be united with others. Continue to provide me with wisdom in how I may live in unity with others. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live in Equality: Day 2

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     Day 2: Be Honorable

Take the opportunity once again to think about what it would’ve been like to live in ancient times. As you walk through the market, you were likely to see hundreds of men with short hair or shaved heads, as was the norm. The few you may have seen with long hair were likely prostitutes in pagan temples. Similarly, you would see hundreds of women with long hair, as was the norm. The few you may have seen with short hair were likely prostitutes in and around the pagan temples. This, of course, is a completely foreign idea for us. But it does make 1 Corinthians 11 much easier to understand. 

In the same way Paul was addressing the importance of head coverings, he took the opportunity to address the length of men and women’s hair. But his concern had nothing to do with their hair, and had everything to do with ensuring that they were seen as honorable individuals throughout the community. 

This follows many of the themes expressed throughout Paul’s letter: have strong marriages, be united, build one another up, remove all kinds of immorality, worship God alone. These themes are shared over and over again throughout Paul’s letter. Those who heard this letter being read in public would’ve recognized the value of Paul’s wisdom. As you read today, consider this: In what ways are Christians today not setting an example of honorable living?

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16

In what ways are Christians today not setting an example of honorable living?

How can Christians today set a better example of honorable living?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 9

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, Your Word reveals so much about the wonders of who You are; Your loving, compassionate nature. Today I simply pray that I will continue to know You, and that I may grow into the person You have made me to be. You have made me to be loving towards others, and I want to be more loving. You have made me to be gracious towards others, and I want to be more gracious. You have made me to forgive others, and I want to be more forgiving. You have made me to be united with others, and I want to be more united. You have made me to be honorable, and I want to be more honorable. Today, Father, my desire is to rest in You in everything. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live in Equality: Day 1

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     Day 1: Be Modest

If you were to be a world traveler, you would take the opportunity to research the countries and cities in which you’d be traveling. You’d read about the sites to see, the foods they eat, and the clothes they wear. Upon arrival, you would most likely have plans in place, including where to shop, where to eat, and what to wear.

In the Greco-Roman world, one of the appropriate dress styles of the day for women was to wear head coverings. Similar to dress in the Middle-East today, whereas women wear hijab’s, women in Corinth would wear a head-covering to show that they were married. Women who chose not to do so were considered promiscuous and immodest. 

While we don’t focus much attention on head coverings in our culture, we still have cultural ideals about modesty. 

This is the very subject Paul addresses early in 1 Corinthians 11. He’s not addressing inequality between men and women. Instead, he’s writing to encourage both men and women to be modest in their appearance and actions, so as to not draw any negative attention to themselves or the church in Corinth. As you read today, consider this: What are 3-4 ways Christians today can set an appropriate example regarding modesty?

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 11:2-16

What are 3-4 ways Christians today can set an appropriate example regarding modesty?

What would be the best way for Christians today to communicate about the importance of modesty?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 7 & 8

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, it’s apparent to me that people within our culture today have very different thoughts and ideas about what it means to be modest. What I may perceive to be of modest appearance may differ from what others perceive to be of modest appearance. As such, I simply pray for wisdom as to how I may be able to live a more modest lifestyle. May my actions and my appearance be a godly example to others. And may my words, actions and appearance be an encouragement to others, so that You use me to strengthen Your people, and not tear them down. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 5

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     Day 5: Reflection

READING: PSALM 139:23-24

What did the Scripture readings this week reveal to you about the grace and love of God?         

What did you learn about yourself this week?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 5 & 6

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Write out your own prayer to God today.

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 4

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     Day 4: Do Everything for the Glory of God

“Think about the things that are tempting you to sin against God. Think about the truth that you can either participate with God, or participate with God’s enemy. Think about the truth that you cannot do both. Think about your life choices. Think about your decisions. Think everything through.”

This is summary of what Paul has written throughout 1 Corinthians chapter 10. And now as he gets to the conclusion of this part of the letter, he writes, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (10:31).”

If the people of Corinth were wondering, “How do we live?” Paul doesn’t leave them any wiggle room in his response. “You eat. You drink. You commit to your spouse. You handle conflict well. You be a positive influence. You speak encouraging words. You do everything for the glory of God.” Elsewhere, Paul writes that God’s followers were created by God and for His glory (Colossians 1:16). So in essence, Paul is simply encouraging the people of Corinth to be the people God has already made them to be. And by being who God made them to be, they’ll naturally do everything that is good and holy. It starts with who we are, and the outcome of that is how we live. As you read today, consider this: What do you think it means that you were created for the glory of God? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1-11:1, COLOSSIANS 1:16

What do you think it means that you were created for the glory of God?

In what ways does this lead you to be able to do everything for the glory of God?

What questions, if any, do you have from the reading this week? How will you find answers to those questions?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 3 & 4

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, as I read through Your Word, it’s easy for me to get caught up thinking about what I need to do instead of first focusing on who You’ve made me to be. But my desire is to be the person You’ve made me to be, so that I may live in the way You desire me to live. Today, may I rejoice in the truth that I was created for Your glory. And because I was created for Your glory, may I continue to live the life You’ve called me to live. Thank You for the wisdom You offer to help me live this life well. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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We Live to Worship God Alone: Day 3

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     Day 3: Here We Go Again

Try to imagine what it would’ve been like for the people of Corinth to hear Paul’s letter being read out loud from beginning to end. That’s how it would’ve been done. There were no chapters or verses in Paul’s letter. Just one long scroll that would’ve been publicly read from beginning to end. 

As they’re listening, Paul once again uses a phrase that would’ve been familiar for all listening. “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive.”

Hearing this, one man turns to the person next to him and whispers, “Didn’t he just read that a few minutes ago?” “Shhhhh,” his neighbor responds. “I’m trying to listen!”

But yes, indeed, Paul did write with these same words back in 1 Corinthians 6:12-20. It was a common style in Paul’s day to repeat the same phrases to emphasize a point. Apparently, this was a point Paul really wanted to make. It’s as if Paul uses this opportunity to say, “I’m here to teach you, but what I most want to teach you is to think. Stop saying, ‘Everything is permissible,’ because if you pause to think, you’ll come to see that not everything is beneficial.” As you read today, consider this: How often do you think through the outcome of your thoughts/actions? 

READING: 1 CORINTHIANS 10:23-11:1

How often do you pause to think through the outcome of your actions? Your words? Your thoughts? 

What would it look like for you to pause more regularly to think of the possible outcomes of your actions, words and/or thoughts? 

How would pausing to think through the outcome of your actions, words, and/or thoughts draw you closer to God?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Nehemiah 1 & 2

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today?

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I’m grateful that Paul didn’t just once write the phrase, “…not everything is beneficial,” but he instead repeated it to help me recognize that just because I can do something, doesn’t mean it’s good for me to do so. Today, I pray for Your wisdom in how to better think through all areas of life. Help me to see the negative consequences of my worldly thoughts and actions, and the positive outcomes of my godly thoughts and actions, so that I may continue to grow into the person You’ve made me to be. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

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