Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.05.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 03.05.12.

Do you believe that God can truly and completely transform a person’s life? Can a person really change? Understandably, some of you may be skeptical and find yourself in a very perplexed position. John McArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church, shared a story of a woman in a similar position that approached him after a conference at which he was speaking. This woman was very distraught and tearful and as McArthur heard this woman’s story, he recalled many before her with similar stories. She told McArthur, “I just can’t seem to live the Christian life the way I should. I am frustrated. I am without victory, without a sense of accomplishment. I struggle seemingly with the very simplest forms of obedience in my Christian walk. I’m constantly defeated. Can you help me?” McArthur responded by saying “Well, what has been your approach to solving the problem yourself?”

She responded by saying “I have tried everything and in spite of all of this, I am not pleased with my life. I’ve tried to get all I could get out of God.”

McArthur said “That’s your problem.” The key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can get, but giving all you have. There’s a big difference. And there are people literally flocking into churches and spiritual experiences to get more of God when the issue is not what they need to get but what they need to give.”

It’s true—the key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can get, but giving all you have. That statement may seem backwards, or like a contradiction, but in reality, it is the truth. Have you ever thought about living your life trying to offer everything you have to give to God? Or have you been too busy trying to get all you can get from God?

Barb, in her message, talked about how God can and does transform lives. But first, in order for this to happen, we must give ourselves fully to Him, and believe that God can change us. Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation) puts it this way, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We can see it plain and clear, God wants our entire body as a living sacrifice.  He wants us to take the focus off of ourselves and the many things that we seem to want from Him. Then, He can transform us and do a good, pleasing and perfect work in us from the inside out.

Are you hoping that God will transform your life into what He wants it to be? This week, you’ll learn how God can transform you by applying just the right amount of pressure. Hopefully this week challenges you to look beyond your own needs and desires and be open to God’s transforming power.

 

“The key to spiritual victory is not getting all you can, but giving all you have.”
-John McArthur

 

MONDAY — What is Transformation?
Big Point: True spiritual transformation is putting ourselves aside in order to fully and profoundly love God and people.

         John Ortberg explores how transformation works in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted.  He writes “How do I grow? What does a spiritually mature person even look like? Will I ever really be any different? The Christian gospel insists that transformation really is possible. Never easy. Rarely quick. But possible. It begins to happen anytime people become intensely serious about learning from Jesus how to arrange their lives.” 

         It’s good to challenge yourself with some deep and thought provoking     questions, such as, why do you really come to church? Is it just something that you’ve chosen to do over the years? Is it to hear some great music and sing songs? Or do you like to hear and get inspired by some great stories? Who doesn’t like a great story of triumph and victory. It is no wonder that our favorite stories and movies are tales of transformation.  For the young (and not so old at heart), it’s the stories of the frog becoming a prince. Cinderella transforming into a   princess. Pinocchio becoming a real boy. Even Adam Sandler in Bed Time Stories tells a tale of transformation. Why are we so enchanted by these stories of      transformation? You have to think that we truly believe and desire life transformation. For a Christ-follower, you had best believe these stories reflect the heart of God and His desire for our lives to be transformed.

         Be honest, are you tired of the status quo? Are you frustrated with where you’re at spiritually? Well, get ready because God is already transforming lives and we are quite certain that He would like to do the same for you.

READ & THINK…Find the answers
We learned in John McArthur’s story on the cover of the Living it Out that spiritual transformation can only happen when our focus is on what we have to give not on what we are hoping to get. What are we told to give to God in Mark 12:30?

Mark 12:30 (New Living Translation)
And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.

Answer:

Romans 12:1-2 describes how transformation can take place. What are we told we must give to God in verse 1 and what must we stop doing in verse 2?  What will God do for us in return?

Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God    because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Answer:

 

“The desire for transformation lies deep in every human heart.”
John Ortberg

 

The verses in Galatians 5 below tell us what our lives look like before (vv.19-21) the Holy Spirit transforms us, and after (vv.22-23). List examples or behaviors of life before and after spiritual transformation.

Galatians 5:19-23 (New Living Translation)
19When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear:   sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasure, 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of live will not inherit the Kingdom of god. 22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Before:
After:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Mark 12:30 commands us to love God with all our heart, all our soul (emotional nature), all our mind (intellectual nature), and all our strength (energies). This engages every aspect of our being. We cannot separate any actions, thoughts, feelings, or energies from loving God. By including our mind, we disallow and kind of blind devotion. What area(s) of your life are you withholding from loving God? How might this be prohibiting God from transforming you?

 

General Transformation 
definition: When we cease being what we are in order to become something else.

Spiritual Transformation
Process that enables us to gradually die to sin, self and society in order to  fully and profoundly love God and people.

 

Read the definitions of “transformation” and “spiritual transformation” in the box to the right. What is the   difference? What do you need to surrender in order to truly experience spiritual transformation?

The idea of Romans 12:2 is that commitment leads to transformation and transformation leads to revelation. In your own words, describe what this commitment might look like in your life.

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
When praying today, be open and honest with God about your frustrations, what you may be withholding, and how you’re willing to offer yourself fully to God so that He can transform your life.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.02.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 03.02.12.

FRIDAY — God’s Word Frees Us to Hear Him Speak
Big Point:  Christ set us free and gave us everlasting hope to hear God speak for all of eternity.

         If you have served in our military, you know firsthand why we should never take for granted the freedom we enjoy in the United States. If you’ve ever traveled abroad and seen the injustice that occurs or the simple everyday lack of opportunity, you know why Americans celebrate their freedom.
         The word “freedom” implies you are not confined, in bondage or in slavery. Some may view this term narrowly to mean they are not in jail (literally). But for a moment, view freedom broadly—and it’s likely you will feel a sense of peace, openness, like a breath of fresh air, and some would go as far to say freedom from your own “mental jail.” If we are in a mental jail, listening to the devil’s schemes and lies, we will never hear God speak.
        Sadly, the same service personnel who battle and serve our country to provide freedom to us often return to this land of opportunity in bondage, suffering from “mental jail.” But God says they can have freedom on all levels if they read God’s Word … then, they can hear God speak.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
Jesus persistently and relentlessly points to Scripture to navigate Satan’s traps to enslave him. Read Matthew 4:3-10 and outline how many times Jesus points to the Scripture and how he responds to Satan’s lies.

Matthew 4:3-10 (New Living Translation)
3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the      Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’”  8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only him.’”

Answer:

 

In Galatians chapter 5, Paul provides a clear understanding of how we remain free and verse 1 tells us who provides us that freedom.  What are we supposed to do so that we don’t find ourselves in bondage?

 

You tell me I’ve been made free
You give me everything I need to walk in my dreams
You whisper words that

free my soul
You’re the reason I have hope
You’re everything

I need and more
You made me

You made me free

“Free” by Dara Maclean

Galatians 5:1 (New International Version)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery

 Answer:

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Are you having trouble hearing God speak? Are you living in bondage?  Do you  believe that God’s Word is powerful enough to bring you out of bondage?  Explain what you are dealing with and how God’s Word can bring you freedom.

 

We’ve been learning about how to practice a very personal activity called Lectio Divina, “divine reading,” all week. Describe what hesitation you have with following this type of reading. Describe how your life could change if you put this type of practice to daily use. Do you think you would still have trouble hearing God speak?

 

Write out two things you learned from this Bible Study about how God speaks and how you intend to be more attentive to hear what God has to say.

1.

2.

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you find freedom in Him alone and to always hear Him speak.

 

Weekend Updates!

  • Interested in getting Baptized:  Baptisms will be held at New Community on Sunday, March 4th at 6pm at the Whitehouse campus. Check out the Around the Creek (“ATC”) for baptism class information.

 

  • Men—Looking for ways to live more Courageously: Attend the “Courageous” men’s event scheduled for Saturday, March 10th from 9:00-1:30 at the South Toledo Campus.  The movie “Courageous” will be shown followed by a time of fellowship, discipleship, group discussion and a barbecue lunch.  The cost is $15.00 to attend and you can register for this event by going to cedarcreek.tv and clicking on the “get connected” tab.

 

  • If you are 18-24 years old, something special is planned for you: Attend the “Worship Experience”  on March 16 from 7-8:30 at the South Toledo campus.

 

  • Who will you invite to the next Cedar Creek series? Our next series entitled “Happy Hour” begins the week of March 17th and 18th.  We’ll kick off the series with a message about  “Down Time.”  Be prayerful and mindful about who you intend to invite to this series.

 

Living It Out: March 2012
“But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgement by the truth I have spoken.”
John 12:48


Living It Out
It is the dream of CedarCreek that everyone who calls this their church home will be reading and studying the same topics, both individually and in groups. Each week, join with thousands of others at CedarCreek Church in applying God’s Word, the Bible, into your daily life. Our hope is that while we learn and grow together, as individuals and as a church, we will collectively live out the weekend message.

Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the Bible in 1 year—Old and New Testament will alternate month to month.

Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others

Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

All of these resources are also available electronically at www.livingitout.tv, where you can subscribe to have any or all of them emailed to you as they are updated.

We Want Your Feedback!
Tell us about any questions or comments you have about this week’s Living It Out: Daily Bible Study. Forward them to DianaP@cedarcreek.tv

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan scriptures are listed for each day. By completing each of the daily readings, you will read the entire Old Testament in 1 year. These readings are separate from the Daily Bible Study.

 

 RESOURCES:
“The Good and Beautiful God”
James Bryan Smith

 

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Diana Patton
Rebecka Blevins
Sandie Bricker
Tyler Dunlap


Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.01.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 03.01.12.

Thursday — God’s Word Comforts and Delivers Us
Big Point: We will struggle, feel discouraged, depressed and even lost, but God’s Word is true. We can find all the comfort that we need in Him and He will deliver us from evil!

         Yesterday we read how God spoke to Moses through the burning bush. Centuries later, Elijah had a similar experience. Elijah killed all the false prophets that were an obstacle to bringing God’s word to the people. Fearing for his life because of Queen Jezebel’s wrath, Elijah fled to the desert in Beersheba (See 1 Kings 19). But God led Elijah through the desert. First, God instructed Elijah to rest and to eat. After much rest, God instructed Elijah that he needed to go back to the original mission that God called him to—and that was to speak God’s Word to all of Israel. Eventually, God led Elijah to Mount Herob, over 200 miles away, to the same sacred place where God had met Moses and given him the law. Elijah had no additional food to drink; so like Moses before Him and Jesus after Him, Elijah fasted for forty days and for forty nights.
         Can you imagine how lonely and, perhaps, discouraged Elijah was for that extended period of time—knowing that God wanted him to return to battle? Elijah eventually discovered that it was the sound of God’s voice and gentle whisper that lead him out of depression, and that comforted and delivered him. He realized that God does not deliver people only in powerful and miraculous ways. Often times, God is found whispering to us in the quietness of a humbled heart!

Read and Think…. Find Answers in the Bible
To obtain a humble heart like Elijah, we must study the Word. God wants us to find true knowledge, wisdom and understanding from the Word of God. Read Proverbs 2:1-6, which describes the six traits God wants us to possess.

Proverbs 2:1-6(New Living Translation)
1 My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. 2 Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. 3 Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. 4 Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. 5 Then you will understand what it means to fear the LORD, and you will gain knowledge of God. 6 For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

Answer:

Can you just imagine Elijah reciting Psalms 23 over and over again as he traveled through the desert? Read Psalm 23 and jot down the promises of comfort and deliverance that God provides to us.

Psalms 23 (New Living Translation)
1The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Have you ever felt lost, bewildered and in a “desert” sort of place? We learned earlier this week in John 1:1 that the Word was with God and the Word is God. Take a moment and describe the areas where you feel lost and bewildered and how God’s Word can rescue you and deliver you.

 

After reading Proverbs 2:1-6, jot down the key things you need to do specifically in your life in order to gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

 

Isn’t it great to know that God cares about our comfort and that he wants us to rest? Are you running on empty, going, going, and going without rest? What are the areas of your life where you feel you just can’t stop, and how might that be making it difficult for you to hear from God?

 

Take some time to reflect on Psalm 23 and apply some divine reading. Write out the verse number and the word(s) that seems to stand out for you. Then describe in greater detail how you can apply each verse to your life.

Verse                                    Word                                              Application

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

 

Take the time to meditate on Psalm 23 throughout your day and be encouraged that God comforts and delivers you!


PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you accept the comfort that He will provide for you to do His work—as laborious as it may seem at times. Thank Him for delivering you and keeping you safe in His arms!

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.29.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.29.12.

WEDNESDAY — God’s Word Calls and Teaches Us
Big Point: Many times we expect and look for God to speak to us through a miraculous “burning bush” while most of God’s communication with us is found through quiet, meditative study and faith in the transforming power of His Word.

         Moses and the “burning bush” is probably one of the most familiar and retold events found in the Bible. However, from Moses’ perspective it was a day that would turn the ordinary into extraordinary and change his life forever.
        When Moses set out to tend his father-in law’s sheep on that fateful day he probably thought that he was going to have another uneventful day in a very ordinary life, but God had another plan. Exodus 3 tells us that the sight and sound of God speaking through the “burning bush” frightened Moses so much that he could not look into God’s face, but his fear did not prevent him from questioning the validity of God’s Words.
         God spoke to Moses through a never seen before “burning bush” and even though he was face to face with the Creator of the Universe, Moses did what most of us do. He heard God’s Words, but attempted to change them to fit into his accustomed, ordinary life instead of surrendering the illusion of control and letting God set him free by a total transformation of his life.
         God calls us through His Word and offers us complete freedom from our ordinary, meaningless lives. God’s Words teach us how to let go of the false beliefs and harmful behaviors that so often hold us back from the extraordinary life God has planned for us.

Read and Think….Find Answers in the Bible
God’s Words are powerful and life altering. God’s Words are a gift that enables us to communicate with, fellowship with, and know our Heavenly Father. It is through the study and application of His Words that change and transformation of our behaviors, beliefs, and lives is made possible. Read Psalm 119:18-19 and list the truths you find in God’s Words and how they can call us to action.

Psalm 119:18-19 (New Living Translation)
18 Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. 19 I am only a foreigner in the land. Don’t hide your commands from me!

Answer:

Read Psalm 119:105. What does it say about the Word of God and how it can help guide us in daily life?

Psalm 119:105 (New Living Translation)
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

Answer:

 

If you are struggling with beliefs (hang-ups), habits or hurts that prevent you from completely surrendering to God’s Word, then Life Support, a scripture based program of freedom principles, may offer you support and encouragement. A new thirteen-week session is starting March 6th at all campuses and meets on Tuesday nights from 7pm to 9pm. To learn more go to cedarcreek.tv, and to classes and seminars.


Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and write out the way we are to use the Word of God to teach us.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (New Living Translation)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Answer:


LIVE…What will you do now?
Describe a time when you heard God speak to you and instruct you to do something but you chose not to listen and you took your own path.

Have you ever struggled with the direction your life is headed? Do you struggle knowing whether God has called you to do something in your life? If Psalm 119:19 says we are strangers in this land, we likely need a road map—which is the Word of God. Take a moment and look at where your life is going. What areas reflect that you are being directed and lead by God’s Word? What areas need improvement or surrender to God’s Word?

Have you ever read the Word of God and realized the “wrong” in your life and then read how to do “right” in your life? Take a moment to reflect on a portion of scripture that helped point out the wrong in your life and how scripture helped direct you to the correct path.
If you are struggling to find a scripture, challenge yourself to read Romans 12:1-2. Perhaps apply Lectio Divinia to this scripture and write out your thoughts.


Whenever you have the opportunity, perhaps later in the evening when it gets dark, take a moment to grab your Bible and turn to your favorite scripture. Then, go get a flashlight and head to your room. Turn the lights off in your room and turn the flashlight on. Take the Bible that is turned to your favorite scripture and put it at your feet. Then, if you can, read the scripture out loud. This illustration is meant to show you should use the Word of God to guide your steps in this dark world!

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to instruct you about growing closer to Him as you read His Word. Thank God for His Word and for constantly speaking to you. Ask God to show you how you can apply His Word to your life.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.28.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.28.12.

TUESDAY — Why Can’t We Hear His Words?
Big Point: When listening, reading, or even praying doesn’t clear the path to God’s voice, keep digging. It’s there, beyond the noise.

         Looking through the window on the morning of an unexpected snow, it can be difficult to spot the traces of the familiar path of the driveway or the sidewalk. But since you’ve lived in that home for many winters, you know it’s there; it’s just a matter of hauling out the shovel or the snow-blower and getting to work at finding it. It’s the same with searching for God’s voice. You’ve heard it before, so you know it’s there.
         An important thing to bear in mind is that our God desires to commune and fellowship with us. In 1 Corinthians 1:9, Paul writes that He “has invited you into partnership (fellowship) with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” Fellowship involves a great deal more than occasional or sporadic communication. In this technological age, when it’s so much easier to maintain and nurture long distance friendships because of the capacity to keep in closer touch beyond the occasional phone call, consider the many options we’ve also been given to nurture our relationship with God.
         If the love of your life lived somewhere else for a time, you would certainly utilize every platform possible to keep in touch and to fellowship with them. You would email and text regularly, set times for intimate phone calls so that you might exchange little details about one another’s daily lives, perhaps even chat with hope about that coming day when you’ll be reunited at last.
         How much more diligent can we be about listening, praying, reading His Word, and pushing through the noise to find that still, small voice within us that seeks a conversation? His desire is to share an intimate fellowship with each of us…even in the winter of our relationship with Him, when we have to haul out the shovel to find it.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
When the noise going on around us is too loud, flashy or distracting, what does 1 Kings 19:11-12 tell us? (We’ll read more about Elijah during Thursday’s Bible study.)

1 Kings 19:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. Answer: What does Luke 8:21 tell us about the Lord’s desire for us to embrace Him and fellowship with Him as close members of His family?

Luke 8:21 (New Living Translation)
Jesus replied, “My mother and my brothers are all those who hear God’s word and obey it.”

Answer:

 

When you just can’t seem to hear God’s voice, what does Psalm 22:3 tell you about where to find Him?

 

Psalm 22:3 (King James Version)
3But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Answer:

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
What if God suddenly appeared and physically stood right before you? What would you say to Him?

 

If God inhabits the praises of His people, it seems like we would want to praise Him 24/7. Have you ever realized that you’d been through a season of time when you hadn’t stopped to truly worship Him? How long had it been? And how did you feel differently after your spirit fell before Him?

 

Think back over the times in your life when you’ve prayed and prayed, but felt as if God had gone silent. In hindsight, can you see the blessing in certain unanswered prayers? What are you praying about today, and how might God’s perceived silence be working on your behalf?

 

Take a moment today to journal about the three primary concerns in your life where you’re truly seeking God’s voice on what to do. Then set the journal aside so that you can look back later to see how He answered you, and in what form.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to show you the areas where certain situations, people, commitments or timelines have blocked you from true fellowship with Him, and invite Him to spend some “quality time” with you today.

WORD OF GOD, SPEAK
MercyMe © 2003

I’m finding myself at a loss for
words, and the funny thing
is…it’s okay.
The last thing I need is to be
heard, but to hear what You
would say.

Word of God, speak.
Would you pour down like rain,
washing my eyes to see
Your majesty;
to be still and know
that you’re in this place?
Please let me stay and rest
in Your holiness.
Word of God, speak.

I’m finding myself in the midst
of You, beyond the music,
beyond the noise.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.27.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.27.12.

March Madness begins in just a few weeks. It’s the time of the year when seemingly everyone, no matter what interest they have in college basketball, starts to take notice of things like seedings, teams on the bubble, and filling out brackets. People spend countless hours watching ESPN, reading blogs, and filling out mock brackets in an attempt to pick the winner of the NCAA college basketball tournament. It was reported back in 2006 that the two most called in days for employees being “sick” are the Thursday and Friday of the first week of the NCAA Tournament.

The bottom line is a lot of people spend an inordinate amount of time on something so “meaningless” as a basketball tournament. Do we even remember who won last year?

It is so easy to get caught up in all the noise and distraction of an event such as this; but isn’t it always easy to find things to get distracted by? With our constant access to all things electronic, we are flooded with noise. It’s no wonder that we have a hard time hearing God speak to us. The good news is that even though screaming surrounds us, God still speaks, if we are only willing to listen.

One of the most important ways God speaks is not in an audible voice, but through His Word. We’d like to challenge you to a practice called Lectio Divinia; the Latin translation is “divine reading.” This will give you a guide to the art of listening to God speaking to you through His Word. Author James Bryan Smith in his book The Good and Beautiful God describes Lectio Divinia as a spiritual discipline that’s been used for thousands of years. Learn more at the Apprentice Conference, but steps are:
• Select a passage – like a passage from the Living It Out for the day.
• Spend a minute or two relaxing and breathing deeply in comfortable spot.
• First Reading – read the passage through, one time, slowly. Pause between each clause. After you finish the first reading, be silent for a minute or two.
• Second Reading – read the text slowly once again, pause between phrases even longer. Be aware of words or phrases, write down the special words or phrases.
• Third Reading – Reread the passage up to the word or phrase that touched you in some way. When you reach the word or phrase, stop and repeat it a few times.
• Pondering – Reflect for a while on the phrase that moved you. Repeat it a few more times. Let the words touch your heart, desire and fear. Begin to wonder: What might God want to say to me specifically? Journal your thoughts.
• Prayer – Turn that last question into a prayer, asking God, “What is the word you have for me in this passage, God?” Listen. Write down your thoughts.
• Rest – Be still and silent for a while. Enjoy being in the presence of God.
• Respond – Ask yourself and God, “What am I being called to do as a result of the word I have been given?” Then act. This may seem like a daunting way to read scripture and learn how God speaks, but we encourage you to give it a try. Take time this week to learn how God speaks to you before you begin working on your NCAA brackets.

Speak to me
please speak to me.
I’m in between and I
can’t hear You.
Whisper, shout it, give me
something
I need it now, need Your
voice, need a sound—
Speak to me
“Speak to Me” Remedy Me

Monday – God Loves Words—He is the Word!
Big Point: God is the Word and His Word is sharper than a two edge sword, capable of clearing away any misinterpretation or wayward path. God’s Word alone is what truly matter!

        Words truly do matter! After all, if you misspell a word or forget a word, it could change the entire meaning of what you are trying to say. Take a gander at excerpts from actual church bulletins across the country and see why words matters:
• Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children. • The outreach committee has enlisted 25 visitors to make calls on people who are not afflicted with any church.
• Evening massage – 6 p.m.
• The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning. • Low Self-Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 to 8:30 p.m. Please use the back door.
• Ushers will eat latecomers.
• Our youth basketball team is back in action Wednesday at 8 PM in the recreation hall. Come out and watch us kill Christ the King.
• The Rev. Merriwether spoke briefly, much to the delight of the audience.
• The pastor will preach his farewell message, after which the choir will sing, “Break Forth Into Joy.”
• Next Sunday Mrs. Vinson will be soloist for the morning service. The pastor will then speak on “It’s a Terrible Experience.”
• “Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Don’t forget your husbands.”
• Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our church and community.
• The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement on Friday at 7 p.m. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
• The concert held in Fellowship Hall was a great success. Special thanks are due to the minister’s daughter, who labored the whole evening at the piano, which as usual fell upon her.
• The Associate Minister unveiled the church’s new tithing campaign slogan last Sunday “I Upped My Pledge—Up Yours.”
• Don’t let worry kill you off—let the church help. Although we can get a good laugh from the above Bulletin Bloopers, we need to realize that we are competing with voices and words trying to drown out the Word of God and its truth and how God speaks to us and impacts our daily lives.

READ & THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
Read the passages from the book of John below and describe the impact of the Word of God and how we know it is the Truth.

John 1:1 (New Living Translation)
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 14:6 (New Living Translation)
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Answer:

The author of Hebrews 4 demonstrates how God’s Word can speak to us and how it takes a supernatural discerning agent such as the Word of God to sort out and expose what is of this world and what is of God. How does Hebrews 4:12 describe the Word of God and what it can do for our lives?

Hebrews 4:12 (New International Version)
For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Learning to discern between the “words” of this world and the “Words” of God can be a very tricky challenge, especially if we try to do it on our own. But 2 Timothy says the Bible is central to Christian living and Hebrews 4:12 helps us “get to the core” of what God wants us to know. Write out how you incorporate the Word of God into your daily life.

What is your favorite verse in the Bible? What is it about this verse that makes it your favorite?

Do you have any parts of the Bible you do not like? What is it about that section that you do not like? Do you believe we get to pick and choose which sections of the Bible that are applicable to our life and which are not? Why or why not?

Take On A Challenge: Apply Lectio Divinia to Hebrews 12:1. Apply the steps outlined in our introductory reading—relax, breathe, apply the three steps to reading the scripture, ponder, pray, rest and respond. Try to take on the Lectio Divinia challenge for the rest of the week.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you thirst and yearn for His Word every single day of your life and to truly understand how it applies to your life. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you as you read His word, believing He is the way, the truth and the life. God will speak!

Reminder: You’ll Find the Daily Bible Reading commentary for the Daily Bible Reading Plan by going to www.livingitout.tv and clicking on the appropriate commentary links that precede the reading for a particular day. The Daily Bible Reading will alternate from Old Testament to New Testament throughout 2012.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.24.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.24.12.

All I have seen teaches
me to trust the creator
for all I have not seen.
Ralph Waldo
Emerson

FRIDAY — God Gives Us a Plan
Big Point: You don’t have to see the whole picture of your life. Instead, let God make you into how He wants you to be by trusting His plans!

        If you’ve been following along with the Daily Bible Reading, last week you read about Joseph and his brothers in the book of Genesis. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph was eventually jailed and then, through various circumstances, became the ruler of Egypt. Many years later, Joseph’s brothers, not recognizing Joseph for who he was, came to him needing assistance. Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Do you see how Genesis 50:20 is the Romans 8:28 of the Old Testament? Knowing exactly what Joseph’s brothers would do, God intended to use it for good. He did so as part of His eternal plan. For His children have “been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
        We all have a story of our life. We read earlier this week about Denise West’s story. The fact is, God has a story and a plan for each one of our lives. Our stories are a part of His greater plan. The reality of it all is that sometimes we probably want to walk “off the set” of our story—and just forget it all. You can see why Joseph would have wanted to walk off the stage of God’s story. You can see why Denise wanted to walk off stage. But, they are not walking off stage. They understand God’s plan. A plan to prosper them and to give them a future and a hope. The question is, will you walk off stage or trust God’s plan?

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
So often, people quote Romans 8:28 without reading the full breadth of what is meant about how God works things together for the good in our lives. Read the verses in Romans 8 below and see what verse 29 has to say about what God knows about us, what type of standing we have with Him in verse 30, the “Come on don’t you get it?” declaration in verse 31, and what we can expect from our lives in verse 32. Summarize what you read in the space below.

Romans 8:28-33 (New Living Translation)
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. 31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for His own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.

Answer:

 

Knowing that we don’t know the whole picture of our lives, what does Jeremiah 29:11 promise us that should give us peace to allow God to make us into what He wants us to be?

Jeremiah 29:11 (New Living Translation)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Answer:

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Write out how you can see God’s plans working in your life.

 

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you trust Him that in eternity you’ll look back and see, in retrospect, how Romans 8:28 was absolutely true.

 

Weekend Updates!
• Interested in getting Baptized: Back-to-back baptisms will be held at New Community on Sunday, February 26 at 6pm at the West Toledo Campus and Sunday, March 4th at 6pm at the Whitehouse campus. Check out the Around the Creek (“ATC”) for baptism class information.

• Apprentice Conference Series: Is your life reflective of the spirit of Jesus Christ – that is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If not, are you interested in becoming that type of person? If so, The Apprentice Conference Series can help. On Thursday, March 1st from 6:30-9pm and Friday, March 2nd, 9-3pm at the Perrysburg Campus, nationally acclaimed Apprentice Series authors Jimmy Taylor and James Smith will be here to teach us how to develop Christ-Centered character, see God and find balance in our daily life, develop spiritual practices, and build community! The cost is only $20.00 for both days or $10.00 for one and includes the book and lunch (if you attend Friday). Childcare is available on Thursday only. Register at www.cedarcreek.tv under the “get connected” tab.

• Men—Looking for ways to live more Courageously: Attend the “Courageous” men’s event scheduled for Saturday, March 10th from 9:30-1:30 at the South Toledo Campus. The movie “Courageous” will be shown followed by a time of fellowship, discipleship, group discussion and a barbeque lunch. The cost is $15.00 to attend and you can register for this event by going to cedarcreek.tv and clicking on the “get connected” tab.

• Life Support’s 13-week spring sessions begin March 6th: If you struggle with a hurt, hang-up or habit, perhaps the Biblically based freedom principles and the accountability of a support group can help. Life Support meets Tuesday at 7pm at all campuses starting March 6th.

 

 Living It Out: February 2012
“I am the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end, “says the Lord God.
“I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come- the Almighty One.”

Revelation 1:8 (New Living Translation)


Living It Out
It is the dream of CedarCreek that everyone who calls this their church home will be reading and studying the same topics, both individually and in groups. Each week, join with thousands of others at CedarCreek Church in applying God’s Word, the Bible, into your daily life. Our hope is that while we learn and grow together, as individuals and as a church, we will collectively live out the weekend message.

Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the Bible in 1 year—Old and New Testament will alternate month to month.

Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others

Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

All of these resources are also available electronically at www.livingitout.tv, where you can subscribe to have any or all of them emailed to you as they are updated.

We Want Your Feedback!
Tell us about any questions or comments you have about this week’s Living It Out: Daily Bible Study. Forward them to DianaP@cedarcreek.tv

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan scriptures are listed for each day. By completing each of the daily readings, you will read the entire Old Testament in 1 year. These readings are separate from the Daily Bible Study.

 RESOURCES:
“If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil”
By Randy Alcorn
“A Thousand Gifts” Ann Voskamp
“More than Meets the Eye” Richard Swenson

 

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Barb Roose
Diana Patton

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.23.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.23.12.

Thursday — God Gives You Opportunities
Big Point: Once we realize that the gifts and abilities that we’ve been given by God are to be used solely for His benefit to bless others, the desire of our heart becomes God’s will and not our own.

        Have you ever found yourself saying, “What on earth am I here for?” That very question became the foundation of Rick Warren’s best selling book The Purpose Driven Life. Millions of people desire to know how God has wired them and what they are supposed to do here on earth. The only problem is sometimes we don’t like what we hear after we find out what we are here on earth to do. We think we should be doing more, having a more illustrious career, being more popular, well-known, with more status and recognition. We sometimes find ourselves saying, “Why is it that some folks thrive and become successful while others are challenged and wind up becoming a bagger at Kroger?”
       Let’s set the record straight—for us to think that because of our faith, God gives more to some than others is a little slippery. Financial and physical blessing is not the best indicator of faith. We should all search our heart and become who God has created us to be and do the things He has called us to do. If God has called you to die for the Gospel, great. If God has called you to be a billionaire and to bless others, great. If God has called you to sell it all and move to the hills of Uganda and translate the Bible, great. If God has called you to flip burgers for the rest of your life to impact the lives of teenagers—never making more than the bills you have to pay—then you sure as heck better do it. It is not for you to decide, but to be faithful with what you have been called to do with the gifts you’ve been given. And it should be the desire of your heart to please Him above all else—for His will to be done, not yours!

Read and Think…. Find Answers in the Bible
Romans 12:3 has a way of busting any kind of bubble that we begin to blow up about ourselves. Fundamentally speaking, we are to base our identity in Christ. What guidelines do Romans 12:3-6 give us with regard to our gifts?

Romans 12:3-6 (New Living Translation)
3 Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. 4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you.

Answer:

 

 

What does God say we must do in Psalms 37:3-5 in order for God to give us the desires of our heart?

 

Psalm 37:3-5 (New Living Translation)
3 Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. 4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.

Answer:

 

What does Christ teach us in Luke 22:42 and how does that correlate to our desires and how we are to use them on earth? Whose will shall prevail?

Luke 22:42 (New Living Translation)
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Answer:

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
God gives us all special gifts. Have you taken the time to determine what your gifts are? If so, outline those special gifts here and jot down the top three ways that you use those gifts here at CedarCreek and beyond our walls. If you do not know your spiritual gifts, complete the spiritual gifts survey by going to cedarcreek.tv, click on “get connected,” then “classes and seminars” and you’ll find where to download the survey to the right of the screen.

                                    CedarCreek                  Beyond our Walls

1. Gift: ________        _______________        __________________

2. Gift: ________        _______________        __________________

3. Gift: ________         _______________        __________________

Do you ever find yourself in conflict with the gifts that God has given you, what God expects of you, and what you most desire to do with your life? If so, describe how you are conflicted. We realize that conflicts may occur and it may be hard to understand what God’s will is for your life. Describe the times when you have found yourself saying, “Not my will God, but your will be done.”

 

NOTE: If you have never had to say that, we guarantee that once you place God’s will as the desire of your heart, you will likely say such a statement.

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Thank God for the gifts that He has given you. Ask for His strength to live the life that He has planned for you, seeking His will above all else. Ask Him to teach you how to make His will the desire of your heart so that you can take advantage of every opportunity that He provides for you to bless others.