The Great Adventure

Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 1

In the past couple of weeks, our Lead Pastor Ben introduced the new mission statement of CedarCreek Church. In 1995 we began with this mission statement: “The mission of CedarCreek Church is to help spiritually restless and unchurched people become fully devoted followers of Christ.”  After a decade or so we revised it to: “Our mission is to help spiritually restless and unchurched people to love Jesus, serve others, and tell the world about Christ.” Now, we are: “Inviting people to know Jesus and the life-charging adventure of following him.” Nothing has changed, really. Our mission is the same. Paul writes to Timothy,  his “son” in the faith:

2 Timothy 1:5-7
5 I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you. 6 This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

Over the past 24 years, God has called CedarCreek Church to share our faith in Jesus with those in our lives who do not know him and to strengthen the faith of those who do. Our leaders continue to remind us to fan the flames of our faith and use our spiritual gifts to help the church positively impact our communities. God has not given us a spirit of timidness and fear! He invites us to enter into the adventure of following him! It is risky! It is entering into the unknown! It is the ultimate high! Our invitation is to enter into his power, his love, and his self discipline.

Paul goes on to say:

2 Timothy 1:8
So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord.

In our day and age, as in Paul’s, this IS risky. But, it is part of the adventure of following Christ!

Questions:
Are you ashamed of telling others in your life about Jesus? Can you tell the story of how you met Jesus and the life changing adventure you have had in following him?

Next Steps:
Spend some time writing down the story of how you met Jesus and how your life has changed since then. Condense it down to a 1-minute version, a 5-minute version, and a 20-minute version. Share them with a Christian friend for refinement. Then, be prepared to share it with friends and family who don’t know Jesus.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the power you give us through your Holy Spirit! Help us, Lord, to use this power to show others how you have changed us, called us, and prepared us to fulfill your purpose on this Earth! Give us the courage we need to trust you in this adventure to which you have called us. We are your ‘Plan A’ for reaching our world. There is no ‘Plan B’!  Thank you for trusting us! Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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For the Love of Money

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6 opens the door to taking a closer look at one’s self in various ways. However, my focus is verse 10. “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.” Please note, it’s the love of money, not money, that “is the root of all kinds of evil.” This should come as no surprise if you are familiar with the dilemma of the rich, young ruler referenced in Matthew 19:16-30. The young ruler was put to the test by Jesus—and he failed. His possessions and wealth were his security, and he could part with neither.

Jesus used this teachable moment to tell his disciples it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. Paul expounds on this in 1 Timothy 6. Clearly, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Wealth can become an obstacle that prevents some people from coming to faith in God.

I am thankful for one of life’s lessons that I learned years ago: money does, indeed, not buy happiness. In spite of my extreme spiritual brokenness, God gave me undeniable insight into the life of a business professional. This man (a Christian, by the way) had a vast income—and a lifestyle that matched. Yet to me, there was a clear lack of contentment. That observation caused me to understand real contentment (genuine happiness) is an inside job. It didn’t matter that this man was a Christian—he lacked true contentment. This real life lesson saved me from longing for meaningless possessions.

I rejoice he allowed me to learn contentment in such a profound way.  I can never know the worries I saved myself from by rarely wanting more. My husband and I prefer a simple life on many levels. This style of living has allowed us to be givers.  God has placed a genuine desire in our hearts to step financially into the lives of others. We know it would be foolish to be stingy with the money he has sent our way! Without realizing it, this personal clarity has encouraged helpful progress in others.

Questions:
What areas of excess in your life need attention to align with God’s plan for you?  Is the path you are on leading you closer to God or further from him? What things in your life keep you from helpful progress?

Next Steps:   
Identify areas of “excess” where realignment is necessary. Align your priorities with God’s—make adjustments as needed.  Intentionally remove the things in your life keeping you from helpful progress.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive me for failing to realize you have ALWAYS been generous to me in countless ways. Reveal areas of excess in my life. Give me the courage to step into relationships that will bring me closer to you and an understanding of the truth of your word. In Jesus’ name,  amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Curve Ball

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 5

As I prepared for today’s chapter, I began as I always do whenever I write for the LIO: I sat down and prayed before getting started. I prayed that God would guide me. That somehow my life experiences may be of some use to others facing similar situations. For today’s chapter, I had already laid out a plan as to what to write about. I had even already picked the verse I wanted to write about:

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)
1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Then, I got sidetracked for a little while before I could get started. While I was busy with other things, I got an email from a woman whose past actions had inflicted great pain in my life. She is someone I had not thought about in a long time, as I had moved on. Now, she wanted my help. The email was polite and to the point, though offered no apology for what she had done. God had thrown me a curveball!

At first, I was a bit confused, but then it intrigued me how the same verse that I had chosen to write about suddenly unveiled itself as  completely applicable to my situation. We are supposed to treat others with absolute purity. I forwarded her email to those whom I trust the most (and who knew what had happened) for feedback. They agreed with my initial thought that I should respond with kindness and help her as she had requested. God had given me an opportunity to show grace and to reflect on where my life is now.

I came to realize that I had learned so much from my past and that I had grown because of it. I had learned so many things that prepared me for a much better future. I asked myself whether I would go back and change anything I had lived through so far. And the simple answer is “no.” Because of my past—the good, the bad, and the ugly—I am the person I am now and have those in my life who love me and whom I love. So no, I would not change a thing! Well, at least nothing major—there are of course little things we all would rather forget or have done better….

When God sends a curveball, he probably is trying to get your attention and help you focus on everything he has already equipped you with. There is no point worrying about what curveballs may come. God’s got your back so that you can hit that curve ball and hit it out of the park!

Questions:
Has God thrown you a curveball lately? What did you do with it? Were you prepared? If not, did you learn from it? Would you handle it next time differently?

Next Steps:
Identity three people in your life whom you have had difficult interactions with in the past but who are no longer in your life. Make a plan for how you would handle an unexpected encounter with them or a request for help from them. Think of two things you could do in each case to show the same grace God has shown us.

Prayer:
Thank you Lord, for making me aware again of what I have learned with your help so far. Thank you for walking beside me all this time and for even carrying me at times. I am often in awe of how you work and how an unanticipated curveball can turn into an unexpected blessing. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Training for Godliness

Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 4

This year, I set a goal to run two 5K races and one 10K race. I started my training in April and ran a 5K in June. I did OK but wasn’t very happy with my performance. I then ran an 8K with some friends and did better. I was proud of what I was able to do. Currently, I am training for my first 10K and am following a program that has me running five days and about 20 total miles each week. I’m getting stronger and faster. I can see new muscles in my legs and even look forward to my runs—usually. I have never been one to love exercise, but something about running has me hooked. Maybe it’s the extended alone time. I love that I’m doing something that is good for my body and shows my children that it’s important to take care of myself.

In his letter to Timothy, Paul encourages us to take care of our physical bodies but with a caveat.

1 Timothy 4:8
Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.

Did you catch the second part of the verse? Training for godliness is much better. It’s easy to train your body. You strap on your shoes or jump in a pool or put on a workout video, but how do you train for godliness? Paul provides Timothy with a list of ways to help develop this gift. One of the primary ways we train for godliness is through reading Scriptures⁠—both in the Old and New Testaments. Many balk at reading the Old Testament, thinking it was negated by Jesus, but remember that when Paul wrote this letter, the New Testament was not complete. He was telling Timothy to continue to study the Old Testament. When we know the entire Scripture, we are able to discern truth from error. Many in our current “Christian” culture are leading others away by omitting parts of the Bible or twisting verses to accommodate their own understanding of God’s inspired Word. Paul continues with a powerful encouragement to Timothy and us.

1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)
Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Training for godliness means we read the entire Bible. Training for godliness means we watch how we live: the media we consume, the words we say, our relationships with others. It means we carefully evaluate the words others are telling us, Christian or otherwise. It means being sure our doctrine—our set of beliefs—is biblically grounded. In doing this we will live a godly life and others will see and be drawn to Jesus through our lives.

Questions:
Do you spend more time exercising your physical body than you do your spiritual muscles? When is the last time you read from the Old Testament? Are you intimidated by it?

Next Steps:
This week, read from Psalms and Proverbs. Allow God to speak to you through his entire inspired Word. Challenge yourself to read through the entire Bible in the next year or so.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Thank you for the gift of your Word. Thank you that we have both the Old and New Testaments as evidence of your love and provision for us. Give us a hunger to know more about you. Give us a burning desire to develop our spiritual muscles. Thank you for allowing us to come before you to learn and grow. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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The Great Mystery

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 3

When I was a young girl, I was intrigued by mysteries. I read every Nancy Drew Mystery book I could get my hands on. My favorite was The Mystery of the 99 Steps. Nancy had to search for a flight of 99 steps to solve the mystery of her friend’s weird dream. This adventure led Nancy and her friends to Paris—such excitement for a 9-year-old to read. (Side note, I was able to visit Paris in March this year—ooh la la!)

1 Timothy 3:14-16
14 I am writing these things to you now, even though I hope to be with you soon, 15 so that if I am delayed, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.
16 Without question, this is the great mystery of our faith:
Christ was revealed in a human body (A)
and vindicated by the Spirit. (B)
He was seen by angels (C)
and announced to the nations. (D)
He was believed in throughout the world (E)
and taken to heaven in glory. (F)

In today’s reading, some versions of the Bible, like the NKJV, have the heading for these verses as “The Great Mystery.” According to the dictionary, the definition of mystery is “something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain.” It is important to differentiate between the dictionary definition and one of the ways the Bible uses the word mystery. In this instance, the Bible uses “mystery” as a sacred secret, something that was previously hidden, but has now been revealed through the gospel of Christ. Let’s unpack the meaning of verses 14 through 16.

The apostle Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, the pastor of the church in Ephesus, because the subject matter was too important to be missed if he was unable to deliver the instructions in person. Paul wanted to convey how those employed by the church and those who serve in a position doing ministry should conduct themselves as pillars of God’s church. It was vital for them to behave in a manner so as not to blemish the truth of the redemptive mission of Christ (vs. 14-15).

In verse 16, Paul gave a short outline of the life of Christ:

  1. Christ was revealed in a human body: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:14)
  2. Christ was vindicated by the Spirit: “The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 1:3-4)
  3. He was seen by angels: “Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.” (Matthew 4:11)
  4. He was announced to the nations: “It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’” (Luke 24:47)
  5. He was believed in throughout the world: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16, KJV)
  6. He was taken to Heaven in glory:  “until the day he was taken up to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions through the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:2)

Unlike the mystery books where it was the responsibility of Nancy and her besties Bess and George to solve the mystery, the mystery of our faith comes only through the church of Jesus Christ.

Questions:
Do you see the importance of the church? Are you committed to investing in the church? Are you living the truth of God’s love and grace in Jesus Christ? If not, why?

Next Steps:
The church has given out cards to list five people we want to invite to a service. If you have not already filled one out, do so and pray for those people. Be mindful that the list should contain names of people that are not currently involved at another life giving church.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the gift of salvation through your only begotten son, Jesus. Thank you for our church leaders and their dedication to godly behavior. Help us to grow in the fruit of the Spirit. Give us strength and wisdom to look up to see the hope in Christ. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Remembering How to Pray

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 2

My oldest daughter started 6th grade this fall at a new school. (I swear she was just a baby yesterday!) Switching from the Montessori school system to public school has been a learning experience for both of us. It quickly became evident that over the summer she had forgotten how to multiply and divide large numbers. I love math, and even used to earn money in high school by tutoring other students in math, but alas, it appears that multiplication and division by hand is done these days in a different way!

Her difficulty remembering how to solve some of her math problems after a long, busy summer struck a chord with me. I was undergoing the same experience at the start of this fall with another skill: prayer!

Today’s chapter, 1 Timothy 2, is all about instructions for worship:

1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)         
1 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for all people2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

So what had happened to my prayers? Summer had been wonderful with many great experiences, but it was also very busy. There were several camps for the kids and some trips for me, including one to Houston, Texas, and a trip to a gorgeous inn in Millersburg, as well as lots of outside activities and barbecues. But I will confess that in all of this, I neglected my daily prayers.

And by the time fall came around, somehow my “prayer muscle” had gone a bit flabby! (You know, just like what happens if you no longer go to the gym regularly…) Praying just did not quite feel the same anymore. I did not feel I could establish that “connection” as easily as I could before.

It took me a little while and some mindful exercising of that prayer “muscle” to get back into it. But, just as you decide to return to exercising regularly, you have to make the time and ease yourself gently back into it bit by bit. I felt so relieved once I could connect as easily with God as I had done before. But it took some effort. It definitely helped that I picked up my gratitude journal again and started to write down all the things I am grateful for in my life each night.

In the meantime, I have arranged for a math tutor for my daughter. Thankfully, I have some great connections at BGSU to faculty who specialize in innovative math teaching. (If your kid struggles with math at any stage, let me know and I can connect you to some fantastic online materials or tutors through them!) So, my daughter is starting to get back into the swing of it, exercising and training her “math muscle,” just as I have been honing my “prayer muscle” again. I plan to make sure that neither of us neglects these skills again, just like I make sure to keep going to the gym regularly to exercise my actual muscles.

Questions:
Have you neglected your “prayer muscle” lately? How do you feel when you do not regularly pray compared to when you do? What is keeping you from a daily devotional activity?

Next Steps:
Identify a time that works most days to pray, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Find a peaceful spot (or create one) where you can mindfully exercise praying. Journal how praying changes your life or start a gratitude journal.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for letting me find my connection to you again through prayer. I am sorry for my relative silence this summer. Even if I was not praying actively, I was thinking about you always. You were on my mind even if I did not voice it out in prayer. Thank you for listening and for strengthening my prayer muscle again. I had missed our connection and I am glad that I have it back! Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Flourishing by Faith

Today’s Scripture: 1 Timothy 1

One of the most wonderful aspects of our faith in God is the confidence and comfort it imparts on our lives. When we surrender control of our lives to God, we are freed from the chains of the illusion that we alone are responsible for our destiny.

Faith also provides sustenance to combat the challenges we face. Today, as we step into 1 Timothy, we are presented with a lesson in the importance of faith in its many dimensions.

First Timothy is essentially a letter of encouragement and guidance from the apostle Paul to his protegee Timothy. Paul considered Timothy to be his “true son in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). While Timothy was a trusted and respected man of God, historical accounts often make note of his timid nature. So, it is revealing that when Paul (who was anything but timid) departed Ephesus for Macedonia, he turned to Timothy to carry on with the important work he was leaving behind.

Ephesus was awash with turmoil over the teaching of the doctrine. In his epistle to Timothy, Paul challenged him “to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth” (1 Timothy 1:3). More specifically, Paul was imploring Timothy to stand against the rising tide of legalism, which strayed from the truth by focusing on man-made rules and outward appearances.

1 Timothy 1:5
5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

Nestled within Paul’s message to Timothy is a resounding statement of purpose. He is asking him to reorient local teachings of the doctrine to focus on the inward beauty of God’s love, rather than the pedigree and posturing of teachers who “don’t know what they are talking about, even though they speak so confidently” (1 Timothy 1:7).

At the same time, Paul was encouraging Timothy through a different sort of faith—his confidence in Timothy’s abilities. This was difficult and dangerous work, and the timid Timothy may very well have been a flight risk. Given the task at hand, Paul’s demonstration of confidence and encouragement was well-placed.

Lastly, Paul’s message conveys that faith in God is paramount to faith in our own worthiness.

1 Timothy 1:15-16
15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.

The story of Paul’s transformation is surely one of the most dramatic examples of God’s love and mercy. Formerly known as Saul of Tarsus, Paul had once led the persecution of Christians. As Paul himself wrote, he was the worst of all sinners. And yet, God not only loved him, but he chose him to share the good news. Upon being saved, Paul was arguably Christ’s most devoted evangelist, authoring a substantial portion of the New Testament and serving as a model for all others who doubt their own worthiness.

In guiding and empowering Timothy, Paul provided a lesson in faith from which we all can benefit: Regardless of our past transgressions or current insecurities, trust in God enables us to strengthen the future of his Kingdom—by faith.

Questions:
How often do you consider the blessings that come with placing your faith in God? If you tend to lose sight of these blessings, what can you do to be more mindful of the peace and freedoms that accompany true faith? If you find it difficult to place unconditional faith in God, what obstacles are standing in your way?

Next Steps:
Set aside time today to quietly reflect on the blessings of your faith in God. Be thoughtful in considering how the knowledge that “God’s got this” can help you to live your faith and serve his Kingdom with a confident humility.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for the immeasurable gift of your love and mercy. Help me to always be mindful of the freedom and comfort that my faith in you provides, and to use this faith as fuel for serving your Kingdom. Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.


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All That Glitters Is Not Gold!

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13

You may have heard “the grass is always greener on the other side.” The idea is that things may appear better from a distance, but the reality is often not what you thought it would be. Self-examination is a difficult task to undertake, and it is never easy to give an honest opinion about ourselves to ourselves. In The Merchant of Venice, 1596, Shakespeare writes, “All that glitters is not gold.” As Christians, we need to take a step back and look at our lives in general.

James 1:23-25
For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

In this final chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul’s comments are made to notify the church of his upcoming third visit and to prepare them for what to expect. He shares that he believes there has been sufficient opportunity since his last visit for those in need of repentance to do so. With this visit, he will discipline those who continue to choose to sin over God’s instructions.

2 Corinthians 13:2
I have already warned those who had been sinning when I was there on my second visit. Now I again warn them and all others, just as I did before, that next time I will not spare them. 

Paul also tells the Corinthians of the need for periodic self-examination to prove that our faith in Jesus is real—noticing this will ensure that the God of love and peace will be with us.

2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 

Paul’s hope is for them to be faithful, and he encourages them to engage in self-examination to prove whether they are faithful, and whether Christ is in them.

Questions:
How can we be certain that our faith is genuine and our salvation is sure?
Do your actions show that you are a follower of Jesus?

Next Steps:
Spend time in prayer and ask God to help you examine your faith. Ask yourself what your actions say about your beliefs. Do they confirm your claim to be a follower of Jesus? Talk to God about the areas in your life that are not matching up. Give them to him and ask for his help to grow in those areas.

Prayer:
Abba Father, we come before you to humble ourselves at your feet, asking you to bring mercy where judgment has been earned. We are deeply sorry for allowing our hearts to be led astray by our own desires and the things of this world, for the ways we have turned away from you and sinned against you. Amen!


This post was written by Gary Schnabel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Do Not Be Afraid!

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 12

I have dreamed of being a writer and speaker for as long as I can remember. God put this strong desire to write on my heart. I was afraid for a long time to step out of my comfort zone. I was worried that my writing would stink and people would ridicule me.

In college, I wrote a term paper for a class. I was so proud of that paper, but soon realized my writing was so bad the instructor lowered my grade by a whole grade level! My instructor said my research was fabulous, but I needed serious help in my grammar, punctuation, and writing style. Every time I thought about writing, I would remember her comments and instantly feel like there was no way I could be a writer.

Six years ago my twin brother, Mark, died. I was heartbroken. I felt strongly that I needed to give his eulogy. I was scared, but I worked on it for hours. I prayed. God took over, and I know he worked through me to help me honor my brother. Afterwards, a few people who knew my dream came up to me and told me I had the gift of speaking, and I needed to do something about it.

A few years passed and I started volunteering for an organization called “Good Grief.” The group helps children and their families deal with the death of a loved one. This organization is dear to my heart. My mom died when I was a teenager, and my family would have really benefited from a program like this. One day the directors asked for a volunteer to speak at their annual fundraiser. I felt God tell me I needed to do this. I waited to see if anyone else would volunteer. I waited until the next day and emailed the director that I would do it. I prayed and prepared. I met with Barb Roose, who is a  full -time speaker and author, and she helped me a great deal. As I was practicing the day before the event, my daughter, Sarah, who is a great speaker, walked in the room. She looked worried after hearing my practice run, but I was determined to do the best I could.

The next day, I was so blessed that many of my friends and family came to the event to support me. I know they were praying for me. I prayed really hard, “God, I can’t do this on my own—please work through me.” I believed with all my heart that he would take over, and he did. I wasn’t very nervous. I felt God’s presence as I walked up on the stage and I felt him take over. Afterwards, I got many compliments. Sarah told me she couldn’t believe it. She said, “I heard you practice and I am amazed at how well you did.” I smiled and told her God worked through me. My mentor, Zonnie, was there that day and told me God had given me talent and I needed to use it. She gave me a journal for my birthday so I would write.

My husband kept encouraging me to sign up to write for the LivingItOut, but I was scared. Every time I thought about signing up to write for the LIO, I remembered what my college instructor had told me so long ago. I finally got the courage to sign up. I didn’t tell any of my friends for a long time about my writing. Every time I write for the LIO, I pray, “God please speak to me and help me.” I read and study about the topic or Bible verse. I meditate on it; I read the Bible verse or chapter in different versions. While I am writing, I pray, “God help me! I can’t do this on my own.” Each time God takes over and helps me. Each time one of my submissions is published, I am so honored that God can use my weaknesses to bring him glory.

I hope 2 Corinthians 12:9 will motivate you to step out and let God use your weaknesses to bring him glory.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Questions:
What is God calling you to do? Do you trust God to use your weaknesses for his Glory? How is his power made perfect in your weakness?

Next Steps:
Think about what God is calling you to do. Pray about it. Plan and prepare. Then follow God’s lead and do it.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so grateful that you turn my weaknesses into strengths. Help me to focus on you, and not my weaknesses. Fill me with your power and help me to fulfill the purpose you have for my life. Give me the desire to obey you fully and immediately. Help me to remember I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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Memory Verses
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Speak Life

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 11

This weekend, we heard how important it is to live like connections matter. Life was meant to be shared, but not everyone plays nice in the sandbox. I have experienced someone “talking about me behind my back.” I can tell you that it’s unkind, unloving, and it hurts. Even still, life is better in bunches!

People in Corinth talked about Paul. They said he was weak and cowardly. Chapter 10 begins with, “Now I, Paul, appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ—though I realize you think I am timid in person and bold only when I write from far away. Well, I am begging you now so that when I come I won’t have to be bold with those who think we act from human motives.”

Paul began to speak out! He wanted them (and us) to understand that sharing the good news should be done—share freely the good news that has been shared with you! Paul boasted about doing just that and his boasting brings both a challenge and a warning for us today. There are many false teachings out there. Paul shares some wisdom about what to watch out for in this chapter.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15
12 But I will continue doing what I have always done. This will undercut those who are looking for an opportunity to boast that their work is just like ours. 13 These people are false apostles. They are deceitful workers who disguise themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no wonder that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. In the end they will get the punishment their wicked deeds deserve.  

Paul lived for Christ and had one of the greatest adventures of all time! He was passionate about spreading the good news and building up the body of Christ, although it wasn’t always a pleasant journey. He was imprisoned, beaten, shipwrecked, and faced danger on a daily basis, but he never stopped sharing the good news of Christ! He loved the communities that had sprung up. He nurtured the relationships and kept them on an honest and pure path. His life’s work was to know people and to be known by them. He spoke life and unconditional love into the lives of others and challenged them to do the same.

Questions:
Who is in your life circle? Do you trust them? If not, why? What is keeping you from reaching out?

Next Steps:
Reach out to someone, an acquaintance, in your life, and start a conversation with them. Invite them to go for a walk, or coffee, and get to know them better. Invite them to church or ask them about their church.

Join a Group at church this semester. There are a variety of Groups to choose from and chances are you will find one that works for you. Visit the Group directory at cedarcreek.tv/groups to find your Group.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for creating in us a desire to do life together. Give us courage and wisdom to share our faith with others. Open our eyes to see someone who may be in isolation and in need of kindness. Help us to get out of the way and let you move through us to do the work that only you can do.  Help us, Lord, to speak life. In Jesus’ name, amen. 


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media