Betrayal of a Jerkface

Today’s Scripture: John 18

As Jesus entered into the Kidron Valley the night he was arrested, he would have passed by the brook of Kidron where the blood of the lambs that had been sacrificed for Passover would be channeled. This must have been a grim reminder of the blood that he would offer as the final sacrifice for all of mankind. He walked up the Mount of Olives and entered into the gate of the Garden of Gethsemane. In that garden, he would contemplate and pray about all that was about to take place, while his disciples did not really have a clue.

Meanwhile, Judas (Jerkface!) was given 30 pieces of silver and a company of soldiers, along with officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, to go and arrest Jesus. This was a show of overwhelming force coming to find an unarmed man with a few of his followers. You might even say it looked like a gang of bullies! What heroic bravery Jesus showed as they approached him.

John 18:4-9
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”

Jesus wasn’t thinking of himself at this time. Quite the opposite! He was thinking of us! He knew what would have to take place to save our souls and reconcile us to God. Isn’t it wonderful news that he was willing to make the sacrifice?

Jesus could have been a jerkface and said, “these people just aren’t worth it!” He had the power to blow down the entire army in front of him with a single breath. He could have moved to a new town, changed his name, and lived a long life. What Jesus COULD have done and what Jesus DID do changed the course of humanity!

Questions:
Whom would you lay your life down for?

Would you put yourself out there the way Jesus did for someone who had mistreated you?

Can you think of a time when you were able to show kindness to a jerkface? How did that feel?

Next Steps:
Make a list of people who have done wrong to you or treated you in a jerkface manner. Pray for them.

Ask God how you can show kindness to someone who is typically a jerkface.

Prayer:
Father, you are so holy and gracious to us. You deserve all of our praise and worship. Thank you for being the perfect example of how to be gracious and forgiving to those who treat us as if we’re less than them. Place in us the desire to show your love to others, especially when they may not deserve it. May your will be done on Earth today and always. Amen.


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


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Jesus Prays

Today’s Scripture: John 17

“The power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it” is part of a quote from Max Lucado that I wholly agreed with until I read John 17. While Mr. Lucado is correct, our prayers do make a difference because God is hearing each one, John 17 is quoting Jesus’ prayers. So in this particular case, the power is in the one who hears it AND in the one who says it!

The whole chapter reflects Jesus praying with his disciples. He wants them to have peace because unbelievably difficult and horrible times are just ahead of them. On the horizon is Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, mock trial, flogging, humiliation, crucifixion, and separation from his Father. Are you in the midst of a trial, illness, divorce, or trauma? Do you feel like you are in the pit of hell? Friends, Jesus was there too. Take a look at Jesus’ action in the face of all he was moving toward.

John 17:1 (NIV)
… he looked toward heaven and prayed …

Jesus prayed to his father. He prayed for himself. He prayed truth. He prayed with hope and complete faith in the one who sent him. He prayed that his father would be glorified—even if the only way to do it was through his own death.

Maybe the best way for you to praise God is through your trials. Jesus prayed that eternal life would be found through the completion of the work he was sent to accomplish. He cannot wait to be back in the presence of his father, the way it was before the world began (v. 5). He wants the glory of his father’s presence! Friends, if only we would pray this way! Do you desire to be in his presence? Are you asking daily for his presence through prayer?

Jesus didn’t stop there. John 17:6-19 quotes Jesus’ prayers for his dear band of brothers who lived beside him, ate and walked with him, suffered hunger and thirst with him. They learned from their dear friend and savior, Jesus. The disciples had a front row seat as the savior of the world sought his father’s blessings on their behalf. How beautiful to be prayed for in the presence of the one who has the power of life and who has the ear of the father! Did you know you and I also have the ear of our heavenly father?

The last section of the chapter is Jesus’ words to the father for future believers.

John 17:20 (NIV)
I pray for those who will believe in me through their message.

He prayed for the church’s unity—just as Jesus and God the Father are one—so that “the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to  see my glory, the glory you have given me before the creation of the world” (v. 23-24 NIV)

If Jesus prayed to his heavenly father, why wouldn’t we?

Questions:
How does your prayer compare with Jesus’ prayer? Being completely honest, when was the last time you prayed for the glory of God to be revealed in your trials?

Next Steps:
Read John 17 as a prayer. Lift yourself up in prayer before the father and ask for him to be glorified in the trials you face today. Pray for your children, spouse, and friends in their presence! It is powerful! Pray for the persecuted church. Pray for your children and future generations to love the Lord.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for your word and the privilege of coming to you in prayer. Help me keep your word and obey your will. I trust you through my trials. May my life glorify you so that others will believe you are the way to eternal life. Thank you for us being able to come to you with all our troubles and that you will hear us because you love us. I pray this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Roehl, a regular contributor and editor of the LivingItOut.


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Ultimate Overcomer

Today’s Scripture: John 16

“What level is your pain right now, honey?” I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that question, but it is a high number. Having given birth to five children naturally, I can honestly say I’ve had a 10 out of 10 pain level. The moments before a child comes into the world are surrounded in pain, but the moment that baby comes into the world and you hear him or her scream, your pain subsides and joy fills your soul. As crazy as the first hours after birth are, they have been some of my most treasured memories. In today’s passage, Jesus likens the grief his disciples will experience after his death to the pain a woman experiences in childbirth.

John 16:20-22
20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. 21 It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. 22 So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.

Jesus had been preparing his disciples for his upcoming death. He didn’t want them to be taken by surprise, so he sought to warn them for what was going to be their most painful moments on Earth.

They had come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah. They were waiting for him to come to power and show the world what he could really do, yet they did not understand his mission. They didn’t understand that for him to conquer the world, he needed to die—to be conquered. They didn’t understand that when he left them, he was going to send the Holy Spirit who would never leave them. They had to go through pain to experience greater joy and life. Like a woman in labor, they had to experience unspeakable pain before experiencing the unspeakable joy of his resurrection.

As Christ followers, we should look different than the world around us. Many in our culture view Christians as intolerant and judgmental when we stand for what the Bible says. Christians around the world are subjected to persecution because of their faith. Jesus has assured us, however, that while we may have troubles or pain on this Earth, he has ultimately overcome the world.

John 16:33
I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

Questions:
Do you find it difficult to stand up for what the Bible says is true? Do the trials of this Earth overwhelm you? In whom does your hope rest?

Next Steps:
Memorize John 16:33. Write it on a notecard and put it in a place where you will regularly see it. The next time you feel like you’re drowning in the sea of culture and unable to stand up for the truth, remember those words and take heart. This world is not all that there is. Jesus is our ultimate overcomer.

Prayer:
Jesus, Lord of my life, thank you for coming to bring us hope and joy. Remind us of your ultimate victory when we feel overcome by the world. Thank you that we can cry out to you when we are struggling and can be comforted by the Holy Spirit. Thank you for your promise that you have overcome the world. 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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Are you a Friend?

Today’s Scripture: John 15

John 15:12-14
12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 

I don’t know about you, but for me, this is a tall order. I mean, I love the fact that Jesus loves me and that he actually laid down his life for me. I figure that makes me his friend. He says so! But then he says that I have to do what he commands, if I am truly his friend. So that means I must love others in the same way he has loved me.

That’s the part that gives me pause, daily. I don’t mind loving the people who are like me (mostly), namely those who think like me, who worship like me, who like the same songs I do. It’s easy to love them, although I’m not sure I would lay down my life for them. (Not all of them anyway!) I’m thankful that I am commanded to do it for my friends, at least. So, who is my friend? Who is my neighbor? Are they the same, and should I treat them the same? When I think about all the different ways people love and serve Jesus, can I love them as he loves me?

I grew up in a great neighborhood in West Toledo: lots of families and lots of kids around my age to play with, most of them Catholic. We were Protestant, and it was always interesting to note the differences in the way we thought we were supposed to worship God. I remember that the Catholics had rules and traditions that we thought were kind of weird and very different from the way our church did things.

I learned a lot about God and Jesus in Sunday school, but I never heard about the need to have a personal relationship with God. Neither, as far as I could tell, did my neighborhood friends. When I became a Christian, I had a real prejudice toward both traditions, wondering how they could have avoided these basic truths: that we must be born again (John 3:3), and then we should follow Jesus.

As I matured in my faith, I came to realize that people of both traditions have the capacity for a relationship with Jesus. Maybe it didn’t look the same as the way I had chosen, but it was no less valid than my path. I am grateful that God was patient with me, that he put godly people of different faith traditions in my life to witness the overriding, overwhelming power of Jesus in order to expand my concept of what it means to follow him.

I want to be his friend. I want to do what he commands: to love the people he loves and to lay down my life for them, any time, any day. I especially want to know and love those who know and love Jesus in a different way than I do. I have learned much from them, and I’m sure there is much more God has in store for me!

Questions:
How have you sensed the call of God to love those he loves, even when they are different from you? What have you done about it?

Next Steps:
The next time (check your watch!) God calls you to represent him as the God of love to your neighbor, do it! Invite that person to dinner! Invite him or her to church! Be present in whatever the person may be going through that day.

Prayer:
Lord of all, I thank you for your loving invitation to each of us who calls you Father. You invite us into the adventure of loving those you love, no matter where they come from. Help us to invite them into the purpose-filled life that comes from loving and following you. Grant me the desire and the courage to love each one you bring into my life. 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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Describe Yourself

Today’s Scripture: John 14

Have you ever been asked to describe yourself in three words, or even in just one? This question is often used in job interviews or in icebreakers for small groups. We want to learn about each other in a quick way, and so we ask everyone to boil down their most important qualities and characteristics into a few words.

If you were to describe yourself as joyful, honest, and hard-working, you would not be saying that you never faltered in any of these characteristics. There are days when you feel lazy, mornings that bring frustration and stress, and sticky situations where you find yourself telling a lie. In John 14, Jesus is making statements and claims about himself, God the Father and the world.

Now imagine that you knew you were going to be killed and your time remaining on earth was short. The way it is going to end is brutal, violent, humiliating, excruciatingly painful, and will be drawn out as long as possible with supernatural, spiritual anguish. Capture those thoughts, and you have a glimpse into what Jesus was consciously aware of as he made these statements in John 14 (NIV):

  • Do not let your hearts be troubled (v. 1)
  • I am going to prepare a place for you … I will come back for you (v. 2-3)
  • I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (v. 6)
  • Believe me when I say that I am the Father (v. 11)
  • I will not leave you (v. 18)

In the face of unspeakable physical, emotional, and spiritual torment, Jesus was focused on you.

In John 14:16 (NIV), Jesus introduces us to the Spirit and reveals how his presence enriches our lives in every way. Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.”

John 14:26 (NIV)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

If you have a very close friend, you know how comfortable it is to be able to relax and be yourself around him or her. That’s what the Holy Spirit wants us to do around him. He encourages, comforts, protects, and up-lifts unlike any other whom we’ll ever have in our life. He knows and wants what is best for us! The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible, who inspired and directed the writing of each book, and knows how to bring each verse into our everyday lives. He helps us share the Good News of Christ with those around us, and he is our guide through the many twists and turns of our lives, always reminding us of God’s wisdom.

Questions:
When you think about the presence of God, do you feel at home? Is your home a place where you have cultivated the presence of God? What are the obstacles in your heart that are holding you back from entering his presence?

Next Steps:
Remember that the Holy Spirit is God’s blast of breath inside of you, guiding you to your truest self and most abundant life. If you want fresh air in your life, let him be your friend. It’s that simple.

Prayer:
Lord, help me know you more so that I may see and believe. Help me live a life led by your loving example, that each day may I grow in strength, joy, and peace like you. Thank you, Lord, for giving me the way to salvation and the confidence in knowing God because I know you. Amen.


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


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How to Not Hate a Jerkface

Today’s Scripture: John 13

Thirty-one years ago, America was introduced to the term jerkface when Bart Simpson confronted bully Jimbo Jones. Bart was tired of putting up with Jimbo’s obnoxious and unlikable behavior. Emboldened by the backing of the 25 greyhounds his family recently rescued, he was ready to call Jimbo out for what he was.

Bart chose these words: “Hey, jerkface! You have the face of a jerk!”

While you may have never used these words to describe someone, chances are you have, or have had, someone in your life who earned that name. Someone who made your days and maybe even your life more difficult and unpleasant than they needed to be.

It’s easy to wish the worst on the jerkfaces in our lives. As we deal with their obnoxious and unlikable behavior toward us, our hearts can grow hard toward them. It can even move to the point of hate. Feeling that way may seem justified, and it may even feel good, but God has called us to treat them differently than that. We see this in the theme verse for our current series.

Ephesians 4:2
2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

This past weekend, Ben helped us begin to see how we can live this verse out, starting with looking at our perspective—because our perspective may be right, but it might not be complete. If we take time and ask ourselves a few questions before we hate, we can gain perspective and treat them with love instead.

Here are four questions Ben shared with us this past weekend that we can ask before hating a Jerkface:

  1. What matters most?
  2. What is really true here?
  3. How do they see it?
  4. What might God be up to?

As I read today’s scripture passage, I am reminded that Jesus is the ultimate example of how to treat others. He was humble, gentle, and patient with those closest to him and to those who wished to kill him. He knew what God was up to through it all and had a complete perspective that allowed him to love others. By following his lead, we can learn to love the jerkfaces in our lives.

Questions:
What tension point in your life do you need to spend time getting perspective on this week?

When it comes to treating others with humility, gentleness and patience, what is the example Jesus give us in John 13 to follow?

Next Steps:
As we continue with the book of John over the next week, pay attention to how Jesus loved others who treated him poorly.

 Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for the example you gave us through Jesus on how to treat those who do not treat us well. Jesus was rejected, beaten, crucified and through it all it loved those who hated him. Help us grow in our love for others and to stop and see where you are working in our lives. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.


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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Giving With an Open Heart

Today’s Scripture: John 12

I am really enjoying Cedar Creek’s latest series, “Feed the Pig.” (I love squeaking my little pink pig, lol.) Ben has been speaking about how we use our money. He says: we earn it, spend it, save it, and give it. Today I am going to focus on giving. I believe God puts the desire to give in our hearts. I think he gives us a strong passion about something, and then that passion turns into a personal ministry.

It amazes me how different our personal ministries can be. I have a dear friend who feels led to financially help her extended family. She feels great joy that she is in a financial situation where she can afford to help them. Another close friend went on a mission trip. God touched her heart about the needs of the people she was serving. She cheerfully gives her finances to help them and tries to go on mission trips yearly.

My daughters worked as servers while they were poor college students. A good tip made their day. Unfortunately, some people tipped poorly and were rude. My husband and I feel led to tip our servers generously because of what our daughters experienced. We thank our servers for taking great care of us, and often notify the manager of the great service we received. We like to leave a “You Matter” card with our tip. I think when we give to others we are showing others they matter and that they are loved.

2 Corinthians 9:7
You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”

I am overjoyed that God loves a person who gives joyfully. I am stunned by the number of people who criticize others for giving. How often have you heard, “We shouldn’t be helping people in third world countries, when there is so much need in our country.” My friend who loves to financially help her family is often criticized for being too giving. I have heard people complaining that they have to leave any kind of tip. I think people who criticize others for giving may be stingy. Unfortunately, they have never experienced the joy of giving.

John 12 tells a beautiful story of a woman who generously and loving gives a gift to Jesus. It is sad that she is criticized for her act of love.

John 12:3-7
3 Then Mary took a twelve ounce jar of expensive perfume made from the essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. 4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages, It should have been sold and given to the poor. 6 Not that he cared for the poorhe was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. 7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.”

I love the way Jesus defends Mary and tells the critics, “Leave her alone.” Jesus appreciated the generosity and love Mary showed him. He was not going to let Judas criticize her. It is ironic that Judas, who really didn’t care about the poor and often stole money from the disciples, would criticize Mary’s loving gesture. Unfortunately, Judas’s life was ruled by the love of money, and his greed eventually led him to betray Jesus for a few silver coins.

Questions:
Are you a joyful giver? How do feel when you give financially? What is the personal ministry God has given you? How often do you criticize other people for giving?

Next Steps:
Take some time to evaluate your thoughts on giving. If you are not presently giving, pray and ask Jesus for guidance. Plan to attend Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace” live on Wednesday, November 20th.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the greatest example of a joyful giver. You gave your life for me so that I may be saved. I am so grateful for all you have done for me and all you will do for me. Help me to love others as you have loved me. Help me to be a cheerful giver. Help me to be open-handed with everything you have blessed me with. I love and praise your glorious name. 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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Jesus Wept

Today’s Scripture: John 11

Until his own death, burial, and resurrection, one of Jesus’ greatest miracles was the resurrection of Lazarus. And yet, as much as this scene speaks to Jesus’ divine nature and omnipotence, I find myself amazed at the humanness of this story. There’s a lot to reflect on about how we, as Christians, should respond to suffering and death and about how Jesus views our suffering.

In this chapter, we see Jesus’ human nature on full display as he deals with one of the most universal forms of suffering—the death of a loved one. I love how Verse 3 sets us up for this scene: “So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” (NIV)

Throughout this chapter, it is made very clear that Jesus loved Lazarus, as well as his sisters, Martha and Mary. Despite that, Jesus waited to go to them, prolonging their suffering. Why?

I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, but I do believe God can bring great beauty out of great suffering. In this case, God had a plan to bring something good out of Lazarus’ death. As Jesus says in Verse 15, “And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe.”

Not in every situation, but in some, I do believe God allows suffering for the sake of teaching and strengthening those who believe. It wasn’t even the disciples who were suffering the most during this time—surely Lazarus’ sisters carried the heaviest burden—but Jesus allowed them to feel this pain for the sake of his disciples (v.12-14).

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, Martha went to meet him and told him, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Can you imagine greeting Jesus in that way? But Jesus doesn’t scold her—what a powerful reminder that we can be honest with God about how we’re feeling and what we’re struggling with. At the same time, Martha doesn’t lose faith because of her sorrow as can be seen a couple verses later when she confirms, “Yes, Lord… I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (v. 27).

Soon after, Jesus finds himself surrounded by people mourning, including Lazarus’ sister, Mary, and the Bible says “a deep anger welled up within him” (v. 33). Why?

I don’t believe Jesus was angry with the people wailing around him. I believe he was angry at death itself, at the pain it wreaked and the life it took. I believe he was angry at the original source of death (sin), at Satan, and at the way God’s creation had been broken. I believe he was angry at the suffering.

John 11:35
Then Jesus wept.

It’s one of the shortest verses of the Bible, and yet in this context it carries such weight. Even knowing the victory he was about to win against death and the boundless victories yet to come, Jesus found it fitting to weep. If an all-knowing, all-powerful God can weep in the face of human suffering, then so can we. Still, we must remember, the stone eventually was rolled away, the battle was won, and despite the pain we face today, victory is yet to come.

Questions:
How do you respond to suffering? Are you comfortable crying and being honest with God and others about how you feel? How do you think God feels when we are suffering?

Next Steps:
The next time you find yourself facing pain and suffering, avoid putting on a happy face and pretending things are okay when they aren’t—especially in your conversations with God. But don’t allow yourself to be overcome by sorrow. Reframe the situation, if possible, in the context of the greater victory ahead and what purposes God may be able to accomplish through this pain.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I am so grateful that you are a God who empathizes with our pain and who has experienced what it means to be human. Thank you for never asking us to hide our emotions, but for meeting us where we’re at. Thank you for the hope you offer us through your Son, and for the beauty you can bring out of our pain. Help me to remember that it’s okay to weep in times of suffering, but also to keep my heart fixed on you. May your will be done above all else. Amen.


>This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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The Gatekeeper vs. The Hustler

Today’s Scripture: John 10

My cousin grew up in a household where both parents worked. His father worked for NASA for over 30 years, and his mother worked, well I don’t know what she did, but her job paid well enough that she was able to shop comfortably every weekend. My uncle had a sports car that talked like KITT from Knight Rider. I thought it was the coolest thing. They were living their “American Dream” like many other families.

There isn’t anything wrong with working hard and enjoying financial freedom, but our society feeds the idea that material items will make us happy. The more you have, the happier you are. Some of us spend so much effort chasing after things, trying to “keep up with the Joneses” or trying to “one-up” our neighbors, that we lose sight of what’s essential, which is a life of abundance through Jesus.

John 10: 7-10 (NIV)
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

The commercials, some family and friends, social media, and entertainers of all sorts play the role of the hustler. They get us to believe along with them that our security resides in the things we obtain, like clothing, phones, and social status. Their lies may become our truth if we don’t hear and know HIS truth, namely that HE is the gatekeeper to our abundant life.

Questions:
Do you have people in your circle who regularly lead you astray? How do you get back to the right path when you find yourself striving for material happiness?

Next Steps:
Remember that your walk as a Christian isn’t easy. Surround yourself with people who are on the same path of living a life of abundance in Jesus. Join a life group and stay plugged in. Invite family and friends who aren’t on the same journey to a service at CedarCreek, or ask how you can pray for them.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for always being here for me. Please continue to push me to walk in faith instead of holding onto material things. Guide me to live my life with the gatekeeper and not believe the hustler so that those around me will know your truth. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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The Church of Jesus Christ, Spitting, and Mud Healing

Today’s Scripture: John 9

Every time I read this chapter in John, I am so thankful that spitting in the dirt and making mud to smear on someone’s eyes is NOT the only way Jesus healed blind people! Although one other time he spat into his hand and wiped it on a man’s eyes (Mark 8:23), the other times he just tells them that their faith in him has healed them (Mark 10:52), or he simply healed them (Matthew 12:22). If that spitting thing had been the only way, I’m sure we would have had some denomination of church that was titled “The Church of Jesus Christ, Spitting, and Mud Healing”!

Anyway, thinking about that takes away from the actual story, which is one of the first recorded instances of personal evangelism. When you read the story (aside from the spitting part, which is kind of gross!), you will note the whole chapter is about how Jesus changed one blind man’s life, and how he got to tell people about it.

It kind of clears away all our excuses for not telling people about Jesus. This guy didn’t even know who Jesus was when he healed him. Through a really strange set of circumstances, the beggar’s life is dramatically turned around.

He is so different that the people who knew him didn’t recognize him! Naturally, when they saw the change, they wanted to know how it happened, and he told them! He even had the courage to stand up to the religious leaders when they challenged him about what had happened and who did it. (Maybe it wasn’t so tough!) They had denied him access to the temple since birth because of his “defect.” He may not have held their opinion in high regard! Even when pressed he did not deny what had happened to him. Nor did he deny who had healed him: Jesus.

When I first came to know the Lord—when Jesus saved me and forgave all my sins—there was a dramatic difference in my life. People noticed, but not everyone was as excited about the changes as I was. I had good news and I wanted to share it. I think many people waited to see if the changes would stick. To be honest, I wondered that myself. But when people asked what had happened, I told them. Some of them even listened. CedarCreek became a great place to invite them to hear about a life with Jesus and the adventure of following him.

Like the blind beggar, I didn’t know much, but I had a story, my story. I can always tell people what trusting Jesus has meant in my life. There are deep theological questions that I still don’t have the answers to, maybe I never will. But I know God loves me and that following Jesus has made my life better. And made me better at life. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Questions:
How has being a Jesus-follower changed your life? Have people noticed a difference? When was the last time you told someone your story of what Jesus means in your life?

Next Steps:
Write down the story of how you came to know Jesus. Read it, refine it, and create a three sentence version, a paragraph version, and a short story version. Rehearse them enough so that when people ask you about your life, you can tell them how Jesus changed it. Be prepared to offer them the same opportunity. It’s available and free of charge to anyone!

Prayer:
My sweet Savior, how grateful I am for the story you wrote for my life, even before I was born! When I look back on my history, I can see your sovereign hand at work, especially when I was far from you. Thank you for being the redeemer of my story. Thank you that because of who you are, there is a guaranteed happy ending. Regardless of the troubles and struggles of this life, you are present, giving me strength and hope. Give me opportunities to tell others about all you have done for me and how you long to do the same for them. I will give you all the glory, always! 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.


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:

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