In Pursuit of Purpose

In yesterday’s devotional, we talked about how you are enough. So let me make one thing clear — whether you know your purpose or not, you are enough. Whether you are living a life that feels meaningful, or still escaping a life that isn’t, it doesn’t matter in the eyes of God. He loves you as you are. He’s not waiting for you to become good enough. He loves you where you’re at, right now.

I believe God wants to walk with you, helping you to build a life that feels meaningful, a life filled with purpose.

 

Ephesians 2:10

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

 

So what does that look like?

In a broad sense, all Christians are called to the same life purposes – to love and serve God, growing in their relationship with him, to love and serve others according to God’s will, and to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. I’m sure there are other things all Christians are supposed to do, but these are the basics CedarCreek believes Scripture teaches.

Of course, since we’re all different people with our own personalities, interests, strengths, weaknesses, etc., these purposes play out differently for each of us. The better we know ourselves (as previously discussed), the better God can use who we are to fulfill these purposes.

For example, according to 1 Corinthians 12:7, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” We are all called to use our spiritual gifts to help one another, putting others before ourselves (Matthew 20:25-28; Philippians 2:3-4). However, when we know what our spiritual gifts are, we know how we can best serve others.

Still, finding your purpose doesn’t always seem that simple. Maybe you know your personality, your spiritual gifts, your strengths, your weaknesses, but still, you’re waiting for an “Aha!” moment where you will suddenly realize how you are supposed to help the world!

If that’s where you are, I can relate. But let me offer a thought. Maybe purpose, in the personal, individual sense, isn’t meant to be some grand, overarching thing we will work toward for the rest of our lives. Maybe it’s not always one passion that we will pursue till God calls us home.

Maybe our personal purpose is found in the small decisions, in choosing to follow God’s lead every moment of every day, trusting him to lead us to where we’re needed, when we’re needed there.

 

Questions:
After all we’ve discussed this week, who do you believe you are?

What are your spirituals gifts, strengths, and weaknesses?

How can you use what you know about yourself to fulfill God’s purpose in your life?

Next Steps:
Spend a day focusing on God’s purpose for you. Ask yourself, “How does God want me to serve him in this moment?” and work through your day from there.

Complete GrowthTrack and begin to discover the purpose God has for you.

For more information about GrowthTrack visit www.cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for making us each unique, specially designed by you and able to serve you in ways no one else can. Please, help us to know ourselves through your eyes, full of love, compassion, and honesty. Help us to live lives filled with meaning and purpose as only we can, according to how you made us. May your will be done in our lives. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 12 

Today’s Prayer Focus: CedarCreek Students

Together, let’s pray for our Students. Pray that Middle School Students begin to make their faith their own. Pray High School Students have the courage to hold to and share their faith in their schools. Pray for unchurched students throughout our region that they are introduced to Jesus and come to know him.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 13
Today’s Prayer Focus: This weekend’s church services: Pray for each guest to be ready and open to receive what God offers this weekend.

Together let’s pray for our weekend services. We pray that each and every guest is open to receiving from God this weekend. We pray for Ben as he shares God’s truth about how our past has potential for God.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 14
Today’s Prayer Focus: Next Steps – Praying for people to take their next steps on their spiritual journey.

Together let’s pray for individuals to understand the vision God has for their life and to grow in the areas of Knowing God, Finding Freedom, Discovering Purpose and Making a Difference.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton Lechner is a college grad currently working at her local library. In her spare time, she volunteers as an ESL teacher and freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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You Are Enough

When I was a kid in school, I remember very vividly being told once by other kids that I could not play with them because I was not good enough. I do not recall what they saw as not good enough that prevented me from joining, but I remember how much that comment stung in that moment and how much it caused me to question my self-worth. As we walk through life, we meet people who will knock us down. Sometimes, they are good people who had a bad day, and they will later see the error of their ways and apologize. Sometimes, they are just hurt people who choose to hurt others, people who, deep inside themselves, are unhappy, have low self-esteem, and thus take great pleasure in tearing others down to make themselves feel superior and better. Those kinds of people can cause great harm to another person’s self-worth. And sometimes we are tearing ourselves down by buying into the lie that we are not good enough.

Today, we will look at how Knowing Your Value is the key to unlocking your potential. Your gifts, your personality, and your strengths are what make you the unique “you” that you are. But you might not feel like this sometimes. You might feel like you have no worth. This is when you fail to see your value in God’s eyes, when you think you are not worthy to receive his love, when you buy into the lie that you are not enough. It is especially easy to fall into the trap of this lie if you have someone in your life who is constantly criticizing you, belittling you, tearing you down, and telling you that they have to “improve you” or “fix you” to be worthy of eternal salvation in heaven.

Genesis 1:27

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

So, we are created in God’s image, and who we are as a person reflects the character of God. You do not need to compare yourself to others because we each represent one facet of all the splendor that is God. No matter how you feel, there is more right than wrong with you. At your absolute best, you still will not be good enough for the wrong person, but at your worst, you will still be worthy to the right person. And you will always be worthy in the eyes of God. When we can accept that simple truth, we can make changes in our lives. When we know who we are valued by, both here on earth and in heaven, we can trust our value that we received from God. And by knowing that you have value in God’s eyes and in the eyes of those that love you, you can begin to know your purpose.


Questions:
Have you ever felt like you had no value? Have others tried to tear you down to the point where you felt you had no value? Are there people in your life who see value in you, even if you sometimes cannot? Why do you think they see value in you?

Next Steps:
Make a list of all the things you feel are good qualities about you. This can be as simple as the ability to make someone smile or laugh.

Complete GrowthTrack to see how your unique qualities could be used to serve others and thus bring purpose to your life.

For more information about GrowthTrack visit www.cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making me the unique me that I am. Thank you for letting me reflect part of your splendor by representing to others one facet of your glory. Thank you for putting people in my life who can see my value, even if sometimes I cannot. Please help me to see what you and they see in me. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 11   

Today’s Prayer Focus: CedarCreek Kids

Today let’s pray for CedarCreek Kids. We pray that children feel safe and have fun as they begin the initial step on their spiritual journey to know God. We pray that the families we serve feel known, cared for, and connected.


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 Lutheran 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 and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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Unleashing the Best Version of Me

The idea of “finding oneself” is often emphasized at the beginning of college. I remember when I started college, I didn’t truly understand why I had to find myself. Didn’t I already know myself? I had lived a whole 18 years. I’d acted in a certain way, knew who my friends were, and knew what I believed. How could I know myself any more? Was knowing myself going to change anything?

Like me, people often overestimate how well they know themselves. But, truly understanding oneself is ultimately a gift from God. We were all formed in God’s image, and when we come to understand ourselves, we will inevitably come to understand that. Through this understanding we may begin to see some of our personality traits in a new light. For example, being described as “too quiet” by those around us can be interpreted as being “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry” (James 1:19). This can be appreciated as a gift from God and a virtue of Christianity.

So, how do we go about knowing ourselves? Casey mentioned the temperament test, StrengthsFinder, and GrowthTrack, which are all great ways to begin to understand ourselves. Those around us, particularly our family, close friends, and those who know us intimately by working with us are also great resources. You will be amazed by how well people around you know your wonderful traits and quirks! But, of course, the best way to discover ourselves is through prayer (along with careful listening).

Psalm 139: 13-16  
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.

These verses are beautiful and comforting. We may rest assured that our Lord knows each of us very well and can lead us to understand our true value, opening our eyes to how we may use our unique personality traits to serve our intended purpose.


Questions:
What special traits do you have that you may use to serve your purpose through God?

Next Steps:
Ask your family and friends to describe you or point out salient features about you. Pick two of your traits and work to strengthen those traits so that God may put them to use!

Complete GrowthTrack to discover more about your gifts and personality.

For more information about GrowthTrack visit www.cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you for gifting me with my unique nature. Please help me to understand my best personality traits. Open my eyes to ways in which I may use these traits for your purpose. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 10      

Today’s Prayer Focus: GrowthTrack and DreamTeam

Together let’s pray for GrowthTrack. We pray that GrowthTrack will be used to help people to take steps in the area of Discovering Purpose. We also pray for our DreamTeams, that individuals would take steps in the area of making a difference through serving on the DreamTeam. We pray that these teams would be used to show God’s love to each of our guests at CedarCreek.


This post was written by Sandy Tadros. Sandy enjoys serving as a fill-in writer for the LivingItOut.


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Incredible Me!

On Sunday, Casey talked about three lies we are prone to believe. The first is that we are not unique. That’s like saying every intricate, crystalline snowflake masterpiece is just another snowflake, or every jagged majestic mountain range looks alike. Spoiler alert: That false statement will be crushed tomorrow. You will find out that not only are you unique, you are amazing, perfect, one-of-a-kind, by design. So prepare now to see yourself in a whole new light.

Secondly, Casey taught us that we commonly put ourselves down by feeling we are “not enough.” Who needs enemies if you are shooting yourself in the foot like that? (Hey, you might feel as if the sun rises each morning in the West, but it doesn’t make it true.) Feelings can be deceptive. Truth comes from God and his Word. Just look at some of the greats in the Bible. Moses felt he was inadequate: “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh” (Exodus 3:11), yet God used Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And Jesus made a big deal out of the seemingly small offering of a poor widow (Mark 12:41-44).

And, if we think we are not enough, we may act as if we are not enough and serve no purpose. Some of us argue, “But I’m only a ­­­­­­­­_____________,” (teacher, plumber, lawyer, student … fill in the blank). Jesus Christ himself did not fall for this. Some said he was just the son of a carpenter (Matthew 13:55). And Nathaniel said, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” (John 1:46, NIV). Did this dissuade Jesus? Not in the least. He knew beyond all doubt that he was the only way to God because he was the Son of God. Have you ever checked out Jesus’ family tree? It contained murderers, adulterers, and prostitutes to name a few. And you feel you are not enough and can serve no purpose in God’s Kingdom? Read on this week and prepare to be astounded at your potential for greatness when God is at the helm of your life. He is waiting for you to become the amazing, incredible you he created. Don’t waste this opportunity.

 

Romans 8:37 (NIV) 
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.


Questions:
Why does Romans 8 tell us we can expect to be more than conquerors and overcome difficulties? Where does such power and ability and authority to rise above adversity come from?

Does Ephesians 2:10 teach us that we are self-made? What does it tell us?

What were we made for? Why does God have work for us to do, which was planned for us to do long ago? What is his agenda?

Next Steps:
Write down as many things as you can that you are good at and enjoy doing.

Ask God what he wants you to do with these activities and skills. Ask him where you fit into his plan for his Kingdom. Ask him to show you the next steps you should take to be of use to him and his church.

Complete GrowthTrack to discover how God has wired you to make a difference.

For more information about GrowthTrack visit www.cedarcreek.tv/growthtrack.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for making me so unique and amazing. Help me to wrap my head around the fact that you have planned incredible things for me to do for your Kingdom with the skills and talents you have given me. Open my eyes to see your path for me and give me the spirit to obey and follow you. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 9

Today’s Prayer Focus: CedarCreek Groups – Group Leaders, Group members, real life change, and freedom

We believe that Groups are where people find freedom through authentic relationships that help them get through whatever it is they are going through. Together, let’s pray for our current leaders and for new leaders that they would grow in their ability to care for their Group members. We also pray for our Group members, that they would find authentic relationships that produce real freedom and life-change.


This post was written by David Vernier. David enjoys the opportunity to encourage others in their walk with Jesus as a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Pray First

Today, we enter the second week of 21 Days of Prayer. These days of prayer are a time when we as a church come together to seek God first. It is a time that we are intentional in encouraging and challenging each other to go to God with all things, big and small.

21 Days of Prayer is also intentionally placed at this time of the year. This time is busy for many of us. The summer season is coming to an end, and we are entering a new season. Some of you are preparing to send your children back to school. Others are preparing to head back to school yourself, and still others are entering a busy season of work.

For our church, we enter a new season as well. We see our church attendance rise at this time of the year. As new and returning guests walk through our doors, there is opportunity to connect people with Jesus and to help them grow in their relationship with him.

Whatever the challenges or opportunities this new season brings, there is often a temptation to tackle it on our own, but God invites us to trust him in our new season.

Philippians 4:6
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done

So, as you enter this new season, what are you anxious about? What results are you hoping for? Talk to God about it and faithfully trust in his power alone.

We are currently in a series entitled, This Is Me. During this series, we will learn how our personality, past, passions, and placement all have potential with God. In fact, we will begin to discover that our potential is limitless with God.

 

2 Corinthians 4:7 
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

This week, Casey Greenawalt shared with us that our unique personalities have potential with God. Over the next four days, we will look at the keys to unlocking our potential and the lies that keep us from it. As we start this week’s LivingItOut Bible Study, let’s begin with prayer. Let’s ask God to help us see the value in how he made us and to ultimately use our personality to live out our potential.

Questions:
What challenges or opportunities are in this upcoming season of your life?

Do you often find yourself trying to tackle challenges on your own?

Next Steps:
Dedicate yourself to praying first throughout this week. Pray before you make that important phone call or send that text. Pray before you enter your meetings! Pray first before you interact with your kids or a family member. In everything you do, pray first.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource.)

Prayer:
God, you are everything I need. I want to come to you first, at the beginning of each day. Help me to connect with you throughout this 21 Days of Prayer. I love you. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 8            
Today’s Prayer Focus: Those who don’t know Jesus – Pray for your unbelieving friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors.

Together, lets pray for those around us (insert specific names) that God would draw their hearts to him, that our friends, family members, co-workers and neighbors would begin to understand how much God loves them and develop a relationship with him.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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A Hard Act to Follow

I feel like Esther could have been part of the last series about how to follow God when you don’t fit in. Here she was, a good Jewish girl whose parents died after being exiled from Israel to Babylon, leaving her to grow up in her Uncle Mo’s household. Suddenly, she finds herself in the palace of King Xerxes, and the next thing you know, she’s the new queen! Talk about a girl’s dreams coming true! But, she hardly settles in before the villain of our story appears—that evil Haman! He has it in for Esther’s uncle and the rest of the Jews living in Persia. Haman sets a plan in motion that would lead to the destruction of the Jews if nothing was done. And it appears that God has positioned Esther to intervene!

There’s always something, isn’t there? That fly in the ointment. You get into that college. You finally get the job you always wanted. The person you want to marry says yes. You get the loan for that house, that car, that boat. You feel like maybe you are set up for the life you’ve always dreamed of, but life seldom has a fairy tale outcome. Circumstances rear up that demand a response and a decision. Will I put God first, or will I opt out?

The outcomes of our choices are not usually as severe as Esther’s might have been. When Mordecai told her about the edict Haman had issued under the king’s seal and told her what she must do, she replied, “All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter. And the king has not called for me to come to him for thirty days” (Esther 4:11).

But Mordecai’s response to her says it all.

 

Esther 4:13-14
13 Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this? (emphasis added)

 

For just such a time as this. What a phrase, so filled with a need for introspection. It is about asking, begging God for clarity! When your “for such a time as this” moment comes, do you know what you’ll decide? You can know. You can decide here and now that what you answer, regardless of the question, will bring honor and glory to God. Your choice probably won’t bring physical death, as it might have for Esther. But it could result in the death of a dream, the death of what you thought you would have when you got that job, or you married that person, or bought that _____ (fill in the blank). You can trust that God has a better, bigger plan for your life, one you will only find if you choose to follow him. That’s what Esther chose! I hope you read her story! It’s right up there with the stories by John Grisham and James Patterson! Worth the read, and worth consideration of the question, “Where now has God placed ME for such a time as this?”

 


Question:  

How do you answer that question? Are you willing to believe that God has a better plan for your life than the one you imagined?

 

Next Steps:  
Pray and ask God what’s next for you and him. Listen. Commit.

 

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Lord God, I am inspired by the story of Esther, who showed up in a tough place because you called her. Help me show up to the hard places you have called me. I want to be used by you to further your kingdom, for your honor and glory. Thank you for putting me in the place I am now, for such a time as this! Amen.

 

21 Days of Prayer – Day 5
Today’s Prayer Focus: Our World – Pray for the life-giving message of Jesus to be spread throughout our world.

Together let’s pray for churches around the world and for the pastors who care and shepherd these churches. Pray also for leaders to be developed throughout the world, leaders that will start new churches that will continue to spread the life-giving message of Jesus.

 

21 Days of Prayer -Day 6 (Saturday)
Today’s Prayer Focus: This weekend’s church services: Pray for each guest to be ready and open to receive what God offers this weekend.

Together let’s pray for our weekend services. We pray that each and every guest is open to receiving from God this weekend. We pray for Casey as he shares God’s truth about who God designed us to be and how there is potential in our personalities.

 

21 Days of Prayer – Day 7  (Sunday)
Today’s Prayer Focus: Next Steps – Praying for people to take their next steps on their spiritual journey.

Together let’s pray for individuals to understand the vision God has for their life and to grow in the areas of Knowing God, Finding Freedom, Discovering Purpose and Making a Difference.

 


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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Look at the Provider, Not the Problem

The life of Joseph is a prime example of how our response to circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves. Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Circumstances such as those could leave anyone questioning, “Why?” “Why me?”  Such an experience could paralyze us into inaction as we contemplate what might have been had things turned out differently. Such tragedies might even taint a person’s trust in God or turn that person away from him. But what did Joseph do?

Joseph stayed true to God. He did not turn from him. He did not allow incidents he had no control over to negatively affect his character. Instead, he simply continued to act with integrity. He worked hard in all situations and trusted God for the results. And what results indeed!  Everywhere Joseph went (including jail), he gained the respect of people in power—who in turn gave him more and more responsibility, until he eventually became a very powerful person himself. This Hebrew ex-convict who was sold into slavery became the ruler of the entire land of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh! It appeared at times that Joseph was climbing the ladder of success so quickly, he didn’t have time to ask, “Why me?”

But we may be asking, “Why him?” with regards to his success. The answer is in Genesis 39:2: “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did…” The fact that God was with Joseph is mentioned several times in his story. This realization was not lost on Joseph either. He told his brothers, who sold him into slavery:

 

Genesis 45: 5, 7-8a

5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives… 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you!

 

Joseph was able to see gifts from God in his horrible circumstances because he kept his focus on God.


Questions:
What lessons does Joseph teach us regarding the handling of crises in our lives?

What are some tangible ways we could move our focus away from a problem and shift it to God instead?

Next Steps:
If you are in a valley in life and don’t see any way out, try taking your focus off the depth of the valley and turn your attention to God. Pour your heart out to him. Cry out to him in anguish, if need be, and tell him that you don’t understand why you are in the position you are in. Then, ask him to let you see the situation through his eyes. Ask him to help you see his purpose in your struggle.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Lord, we are so fallible and weak sometimes. We get distracted by everything around us and forget to look to you. Help us remain steadfast and continue to serve you with integrity, even while the walls seem to be falling in around us. Let us see your strong arms that prevent those very walls from crushing us and allow us to see how you are going to use this situation for your glory and our good. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 4
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Nation – Pray for national missions (partnering churches and church plants)


This post was written by David Vernier. David enjoys the opportunity to encourage others in their walk with Jesus as a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Raise Your Voice and Be Heard

Being thrust into a public speaking role was exactly the scenario Moses found himself in, despite having some issues with speaking publicly. He was chosen by God to step outside his comfort zone and to lead the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery, a task that would involve talking to both the Israelites and the Egyptians, even the Pharaoh himself!

Exodus 4:10
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

 

Imagine dozens and dozens, perhaps even hundreds and hundreds of eyes staring at you, eagerly hanging on your every word, waiting to hear words of knowledge, wisdom, and hope from your mouth. That is a pretty intimidating scenario for most people. I definitely felt this way as a graduate student when I presented, for the first time, my research findings to all the big names in my field at a conference near London. I most certainly did not feel at the time that I had lots of wisdom to share, just my graphs and data. I was clutching my notes with one hand, even though I had memorized them, as if my life depended on them, and hoping that none of my slides were out of order or upside down. (Yep, we still had projector carousels with actual slides in those days!)

Today, I enjoy public speaking, and I frequently have to speak to large groups as a scientist or university administrator. So, the story of Moses intrigued me because I initially could not understand why Moses had any issues with public speaking. Having been raised at the Egyptian royal court would have afforded him an excellent education, so being knowledgeable or knowing how to carry himself should not have been an issue. There are some theories that maybe he had a speech impediment or physical handicap, but nothing like that is mentioned in the Bible. Whatever the reason, Moses was clearly grasping for excuses to avoid what God was calling him to do.

Yet, he was in a unique position as an Israelite raised and educated in Egypt, a position that allowed him to accomplish something amazing and grand! Because he chose obedience and used what he probably felt was a limitation (not being a good public speaker), he found that with God by his side, his potential was limitless. He put God at the center and trusted him, and he was able to use his voice to free God’s people.


Questions:
What do you feel are your limitations? Have you ever felt like you had something important to say at a crucial moment, perhaps to help someone? Did you use your voice, or did you stay silent?

Next Steps:
Look for opportunities where God has placed you in a unique position to use your voice to help others. Practice using your voice in these moments while trusting that God is by your side.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving us opportunities to raise our voices and be heard in order to help others, even if at that moment we feel terrified to speak up. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 3
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our City – Toledo, Perrysburg, Whitehouse, Findlay, Oregon, and Northwest Ohio.


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 Lutheran 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 and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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From Failure to Rock

Bible scholar John MacArthur describes Jesus’ chosen apostles this way: They were a motley crew of ordinary, uneducated men, not showing any exceptional talent for speaking, leading, or teaching. Blockheads. Perhaps worst of all was Simon, the one Jesus picked to lead this merry band of misfits. Jesus gave him the name Peter, which in Greek is Petra, or Rock. But repeatedly, Peter shows us that while operating under his own will, he was anything but a rock. For example, when trying to kill one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, he missed his head and cut off his ear instead. He was a never-ending whirlwind of opinions and actions, and he typically failed when it mattered most.

At the last supper, Peter proclaimed, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33). But a few hours later, he denied knowing Jesus three times!

How did this failed mess of a man go on to give arguably one of the Bible’s most powerful sermons and lead thousands to Christ on Pentecost? In John 21, we read that Jesus called him out, and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he stopped being Simon and became Peter, the Rock.

After a night of fruitless fishing, Jesus calls to them from the beach and tells them to lower their nets on the right side of the boat. They then catch so many fish that they can’t haul in the nets. Peter, realizing it’s Jesus, “threw himself into the sea” (John 21:7, ESV, italics mine) to get to Jesus. The exchange that follows changes Peter forever, changing him from failure to rock.

John 21:15-17
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

Jesus explains to Peter that he has two jobs: follow Jesus and be a shepherd to his sheep. Previously, Peter had failed because his decisions were based on his belief in himself. He was trying to operate on his own, and that’s why he failed. What a relief that God does his best work with nothing. (Check out Genesis 1:1 for another great example of this.)

Jesus had to bring Peter face to face with the true depth of his sin and, consequently, the true depth of God’s grace and mercy before he could stop relying on himself and truly turn himself over to Jesus (John Reilly sermon, “Peter, The Disciple”). When we allow Jesus to show us the same truth, he can use us right where we live to accomplish his amazing work.

John’s recounting of Peter’s story shows us how God uses bent and broken people to do amazing things. His requirements? Have a humble and repentant heart, and a desire to love him and to love others.

2 Corinthians 4:7
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Questions:
Have you recently examined why you follow Jesus?

Ask yourself if you truly “wait on him”, or do you do what you think is best?

Next Steps:
Find a way to take that love you profess for Christ and cast it onto others over a meal or a game of golf, or even working in the garden with a neighbor. Let go of being your own god. Commit Isaiah 55:8-9 to memory.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for revealing my true motivations to me. Help me to stop putting myself at the center of my world and replace it with your lordship and a deep desire to humble myself. Help me to love you more than myself and to serve others because of your love for us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 2
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Pastors, church staff, Group Leaders, DreamTeam members.


This post was written by Martha Preckler. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.


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!


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What Could Be?

Leaving the house on time is never easy when you have kids. There can be many reasons for running late, but for my family the culprit most often is a misplaced pair of shoes. Sometimes, we discover that the missing shoes were taken off during the last car ride home! Other times, we find them under a bed or in the basement. Most often though, they are lost in a giant pile of shoes on the floor of the front hallway closet!

Last week, I decided that I had finally had enough! As I found myself on the floor of the closet rifling through the pile of shoes for the third time in two days, I thought to myself, this is ridiculous, and I began to imagine what could be if I had a shoe rack.

If only I had a shoe rack, then shoes could be organized, children could be ready to leave on time, and frantic searches through the closet could be a thing of the past! The more I thought about it, the more I believed that a shoe rack had the potential to change my life!

This weekend Ben Snyder asked us to answer this question: “What one thing has the potential to change your life?” Often, when we think about our lives being changed or what could be, we include an “IF” in the statement. For example, we might say something like, “Imagine what could be if I had a different  boss.” “Imagine what could be if I was more talented in a certain area.” “Imagine what could be if I had a bigger house.” Or in my case, “Imagine what could be if I had a shoe rack.”

Ben taught us this weekend that the difference between our potential and our limitations is how we leverage “IF.” Specifically, the difference between our potential and our limitations is WHO is at the CENTER OF “IF.” Putting God at the center of our if is actually the one thing that has the potential to change our lives.

When we put ourselves at the center of the “if”, it limits what could be. However, when God is at the center of the “if”, the potential to what could be is limitless. In fact, with God our limitations become our greatest potential for purpose.

 

2 Corinthians 4:7

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

 

Today, our church begins “21 Days of Prayer,” and you are invited to be a part of it. Over the next 21 days, we are coming together to seek God first and to offer him everything that we have. As a church, we want to put God at the center of what could be! Together, we faithfully trust in his power alone to create lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our world.

Putting God at the center of our lives is where we get our potential to do great things and to make a difference for him. We do that through prayer and through trusting him with everything that we have to offer.


Questions:

How are you leveraging your “if”?

What steps can you take to make God the center of your “What if’s”?

Next Steps:
Dedicate yourself to growing in the area of prayer.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” God, today I surrender myself to you. I give you my personality, my passion, my past, and my placement knowing that you can do more with them than I could ever imagine. Because of you, I have great potential. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 1
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Leaders – Nation, State, and City (1 Timothy 2:1-2)


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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:

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