Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.20.11

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WEDNESDAY—Game Changing Experience
Big Point: Isaiah’s humbling experiences and learning about forgiveness prepared him for ministry.

Life is full of ups and downs. We are constantly facing trials and tribulations wondering ‘Why me?’ or ‘When will I catch a break?’ or even… ‘I am a Christian, isn’t life supposed to get easier?’ Did you ever stop to think that you needed to experience the tough situations in life to be prepared to do God’s work? Isaiah lived among the wicked and the corrupt. So much so that when he came face to face with the Al-mighty Lord, he was instantly humbled. Isaiah felt that he was not worthy and that now he was doomed. He had lived a sinful life among the sinful people who disobeyed this all powerful God and there was no way God would spare him. God had other plans for him though. God forgave Isaiah and this created even greater admiration on Isaiah’s part for the Lord, so much so that Isaiah pledged himself to the Lord as His servant. God wants us to learn valuable lessons from our experiences and pass them on. He does his good works through us, if only we open our eyes to His glory.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Isaiah 6:4-7 (New Living Translation)
4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”

Isaiah 66:2 (New Living Translation)
My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.

Micah 7:18-19 (New Living Translation)
Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

THINK…Find the answers
Isaiah felt that he was doomed because of his sins, but then something remarkable happened. What did God do to him?

What are some reasons we should humble ourselves?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Can you think of different situations you have encountered throughout your life in which God was preparing you for the future in some way, shape, or form?

How can reflecting on your life‘s lessons and using what you have learned from the past help you make better choices in the future?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
We may not always understand God‘s reasoning, but we need to trust in the Lord that He is preparing us for His bigger purpose. Pray for God to humble your heart, forgive you of your sins, and use you along with your experiences to help bring followers to Christ.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY:
v7-10 As this section opens God sends Jeremiah to the Temple gates to refute the false belief that God would not let harm come to the Temple or to those who lived near it. Jeremiah rebukes the people for their false and worthless religion, their idolatry and the shameless behavior of the people and their leaders. Jeremiah was almost put to death for this message but was saved by the officials of Judah. The people followed a worship ritual but maintained a sinful lifestyle. It was religion without a personal commitment to God. There are many parallels between how the people of Judah viewed their temple and how people today view their churches. Jesus uses the words from 7:11 in clearing the Temple.
v8 When people fall down or realize that they are headed in the wrong direction, it only makes sense for them to get up, or change directions. But as God watched the nation, He saw people living sinful lives by choice, deceiving themselves that there would be no consequences. Jeremiah pleaded with God to save his people and portrayed his emotions as he watched them reject God.
v9 Jeremiah felt conflicting emotions concerning his people. Lying, deceit, treachery, adultery and idolatry had become common sins. He was set apart from them by his mission from God, but he was one of them too. He was angered by their sin, but he had compassion also. God’s justice results from the condition of our hearts, not some physical sign of our bodies.
v10 Most people would like to know the future, or at least they think they would. God promises to guide us. He knows our future and the plans he has for us. Those who trust in man-made devices to tell the future will not be successful, and will ultimately look foolish for trusting in something or someone other than God. The “shepherds” of Judah were the evil leaders, leading the people of Judah astray. God’s ability to direct our lives is far superior to our ability.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.19.11

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TUESDAY — Game Changing Vision
Big Point: When God reveals Himself to us in all his glory in a whole new way, a game changing moment occurs.

Isaiah, the prophet, is a spokesman for God, and he worked tirelessly to point people back to God. His name even means “Yahweh is salvation”. He continuously points people to “God‘s Glory.”

John claims to have seen the very glory of God in Jesus. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Through Jesus we see attributes of God which he displayed to everybody: true Love, Holiness, and Long-suffering.

In the book of Isaiah, as in all of God‘s Word, we also see many other attributes of God. In Isaiah 1:16-17, God reveals wisdom and truth. In Isaiah 1:18-20, He reveals His mercy, forgiveness and faithfulness. As we experience these attributes of His love, forgiveness and mercy, our hearts are filled with gratitude and we respond earnestly.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Isaiah 6:3 (New International Version)
And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Isaiah 1:16-17 (New International Version)
Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong.17 Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.

Isaiah 1:18-20 (New International Version)
18 “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. 19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.” For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Colossians 3:15-17 (New International Version)
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

THINK…Find the answers
List the attributes of God that are revealed in the scriptures above.

In Isaiah 1:19, what does God require of us if we want to experience his goodness?

LIVE…What will you do now?
When Isaiah saw God‘s glory and attributes in a new way, he was forgiven and humbled, and his life was changed. List past situations in your life through which God revealed himself to you in a new game changing way.
1.
2.
3.

When God reveals himself to you in a whole new way do you let it change the way you think and behave? How so? List examples here.

How have encounters with God changed your character?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
God wants to make you ready for His use. He wants to reveal to you His holiness, mercy, love, faithfulness, forgiveness, righteousness, wisdom, and truth. He is infinite, just and good and He is jealous for you. Ask God for a revelation of His Word in your life today, so you may be ready and equipped to respond earnestly to the will of God for your life.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY:
v4 Throughout the Old Testament, God consistently revealed His intentions to bless the nations of the world. His global vision included a central role for the people of Israel as the channel through which God would pour out His blessings on all nations. But their privilege as the chosen people was in jeopardy as long as they insisted on disobedience and idolatry. His mission and its lack of success often confused Jeremiah. He was anguished by the sure devastation of the coming judgment. God warned that destruction was certain, but He promised that the faithful remnant would be spared. God is committed to preserving those who are faithful to Him.
v5 Jerusalem was the capital city and the center of worship for Judah. God was willing to spare the city if only one person who was just and honest was found. Even the leaders who knew God’s laws and understood His words of judgment had rejected Him. God held them responsible for the sins of their children because the children had followed their parents’ example. They were supposed to guide and teach the people, but instead they led them into sin.
v6 The Lord warned Jeremiah’s own tribe of Benjamin to flee, not to Jerusalem because it would be under siege, but toward a city 12 miles south called Tekoa. The Babylonians ultimately invaded Judah three times, until they destroyed the nation and its temple completely. Israel continued to ignore Jeremiah’s predictions, preferring the predictions of peace because they didn’t like his condemnation of their sin. However, denying the truth never changes it; what God says always happens.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.18.11

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Series: Vintage Faith
This Week: Isaiah… The Game Changer

Have you ever had a major game changing experience in your life: going to college, getting married, death of a loved one, a new job, a word from God maybe? Think about the last time you had a game changing experience with God. Isaiah had one and he needed it so that his heart could be conditioned for the call that God would place on his life.
Isaiah was a nobleman among the prophets of old. His Hebrew was classic. His style was aristocratic. His circles were influential. In contrast though…his God-ordained message was bare-knuckled.
Through the reigns of four kings he proclaimed one message: God will not forever wink at wrong. He spoke with grit in his gut and fire in his eyes like one who had stood in hell and seen heaven, for that is exactly what had happened. Isaiah saw God. Whether what he saw was in the sky or in his head matters little com-pared to the truth that was in his heart. The lights danced and the angels chanted back and forth, “Holy, Holy, Holy,” as if they had nothing else to say, and they didn‘t– for that is all you can say before Him who is holy.
There are those who boast about having a vision of God like they boast about seeing the president. Not so with Isaiah. When he saw God he didn’t update his resume, he begged for mercy. “Oh, no! I will be destroyed, I am not pure, and I live among people who are not pure, but I have seen the King, the Lord All—Powerful” (Isaiah 6:5).
No sooner was the mercy requested than it was received. An angel purged Isaiah‘s mouth with a hot coal, teaching that the only mouth worthy of speaking for God is the one cleansed by God. Isaiah was never the same after that. “Send me!” he volunteered. And so God sent. And so Isaiah preached.
Isaiah preached with the passion and fury of a man who‘d seen his life pass before his eyes, because he did. He preached with the passion and fury of a man sent by God, because he was sent by God. He preached with the passion and fury of a man who longed to join the angels and spend eternity singing, “Holy. Holy, Ho-ly” at the top of his lungs, and “in fact” that is exactly what he is probably doing right now.
It is no frivolous matter to hear the voice of God; and certainly it is an awe-some trust to consent to speak for Him. Isaiah recalled the commission God had given him. His encounter with God permanently affected his character. From then on he reflected the God he represented. Isaiah was ordained and called by God to carry a message of both hope and judgment.
Isaiah‘s call is the call of every missionary. This process and preparation that he went through was a game changer for Isaiah and Isaiah‘s message became a game changer for many others. Isaiah‘s journey and message is our path to be-come prepared to be a God-ordained game changer too and say, “Here I am… send me!”

IN THIS WEEK’S STUDY WE WILL TAKE A LOOK AT THE VISION, CALL AND RESPONSE OF ISAIAH.

Monday — The Game Changer
Big Point: Sometimes it takes an ―aha‖ moment to create a game changing ex-perience- to put off our old way of thinking and trust God.

In the book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey ex-plains the term “paradigm.” It has a Greek scientific origin but in social terms it is described as the way we “see” the world – not in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding, and interpreting the world. Covey states that the influences in our lives – family, school, church, work environment, friends, and associates- all have made their silent unconscious impact on us and helped shape our frame of reference, also known as our paradigms. He states a “paradigm shift” is what we might call an “Aha” experience. It is when someone finally “sees” things differently or suddenly the lights turn on inside; or a “game changer” or conversion, so to speak. Covey cites the notable book by T.S. Kuhn that popularized paradigm shifts by showing that almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. The same can be true for us; fundamental shifts in our thinking occur when we face life-threatening crises, or when we step into a new role – like husband or wife, parent or grandparent, manager or leader. We suddenly see our priorities differently. We learned this past weekend that Isaiah‘s vision in seeing the Glory of God was his “Aha” moment that created his game changing experience to commission him to be a prophet of God.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Isaiah 6:1-3 (New Living Translation)
1It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty ser-aphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each oth-er, “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of Heaven‟s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”

Luke 5:37-38 (New Living Translation)
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins.

THINK…Find the answers
After reading Isaiah 6:1-3, Describe the vision that Isaiah saw and what they were calling out?

In Luke 5:37, what does the scripture say will happen if we attempt to put new wine in old skins?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Isaiah‘s vision was fairly clear and game changing; it permanently affected Isaiah‘s character. His account of God leaves little doubt about what motivated him for the next half of a century—it was his paradigm shift to put off the old and start a new.

List the game changing paradigm shifts toward God that you‘ve experienced:
1.
2.
3.

If you‘ve had none, what is currently influencing your paradigms? How can you shift your paradigm toward Christ?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God to shift your paradigm so you can see Him like Isaiah did and put off your old way of thinking to trust God completely.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Jeremiah 1-3
v1 After King Solomon’s death, the united kingdom of Israel had split into rival northern and southern kingdoms. The northern kingdom was called Israel; the southern, Judah. Jeremiah was from Anathoth, four miles north of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom. He lived and prophesied during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah. This was a chaotic time politically, morally and spiritually. Judah often found itself in the middle of the wars between Egypt, Assyria and Babylon. Although Jeremiah prophesied for 40 years, he never saw his people heed his words and turn from their sins. God knew Jeremiah long before he was born, as He knows all of us. He appointed Jeremiah to be His prophet, and He has a plan and purpose for each of us, though not always as specific as the role Jeremiah filled. God promised to be with Jeremiah and care for him, but not to keep trouble from coming. Jeremiah’s mission was not just to the Jews, but to the nations.
v2 In this section the marriage analogy sharply contrasts God’s love for His peo-ple with their love for other gods and reveals Judah’s faithlessness. Jeremiah con-demned Judah (sometimes referred to as Jerusalem, the capital city) for seeking security in worthless, changeable things instead of the unchangeable God. Jeremi-ah reminds Judah of their history with God, of His faithfulness, love and blessings to them. They do not even compare favorably with other nations who honor their false gods – Judah has even failed to do that!
v3 This law found in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 says that a divorced woman who re-marries can never be reunited with her first husband. Judah “divorced” God and “married” other gods. God had every right to permanently disown His wayward people, but in His mercy He was willing to take them back. Ironically, in spite of their great sin, the people of Israel continued to talk like they were God’s children. The only way they could do that was to minimize their sin. The northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria and its people were taken into captivity. This trag-edy should have caused the southern kingdom of Judah to return to God, but Ju-dah paid no attention. This message came during the reign of the righteous king, Josiah, but his actions did not turn the hearts of his people. They refused to repent and so were subjected to the punishment God had decreed for the sins of the evil king, Manasseh, who was Josiah’s grandfather.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.15.11

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FRIDAY — A Secret Worth Sharing…
Big Point: Being content is about believing God’s promises to care for us—no matter our circumstances.

Question: How content are you these days? Rate yourself on a scale of 1 (not content) to 5 (very content):    1    2    3    4    5

What factors do is your answer based on? How do you feel about your rating?

What do you think might be the source of your discontentment?

     Author and former Yahoo.com executive Tim Sanders believes that there are two types of people: those who live in fear of scarcity, and those who embrace abundance. Scarcity is the belief that there isn’t enough to go around, and therefore, there’s a fear that one won’t have enough. Sometimes we develop scarcity as a result of our upbringing or through circumstances, including perceived threats like potential job loss. We know that we’re experiencing scarcity when we become reactive—quick to jump at others in efforts to protect what we have left. However, we find we’re angry when others experience success because we’re jealous that they are accumulating more than we are—and we fear we may not catch up.
    
Those who embrace abundance believe there is enough, even enough to share with others. An abundance mindset celebrates the success of others and a willingness to let go of our desires in order to help someone else achieve his or hers.

Philippians 4:12-13 (New Living Translation)
12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

In Philippians 4:12-13, the Apostle Paul sums up the experiences of his life with the stunning revelation that he’s satisfied with his life, no matter where the road’s taken him — prison, a shipwreck, house arrest, as well as before high officials and sophisticated audiences.

Read Philippians 4:12-13. Which verse impacts you the most, and why?

Based on what you’ve learned this week, what has God taught you about how you’ve lived your life so far?

What have you felt the need to re-evaluate or change?

Weekend Reminders: Upcoming Fall 2011 Classes and Seminars!
~ Financial Peace University registration is OPEN! Our popular financial class by well-known author and top-rated television host Dave Ramsey is back!
~ Are you single? We’ve got a new Andy Stanley DVD-based seminar for single adults titled “The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating”
~ Truth Project starts in September! A 13-week series designed to help you establish a solid biblical worldview. A top-notch series that will challenge you!

Homepointe Family Activity
Big Point for Families: Materialism—Life without God is meaningless!
Read: Ecclesiastes 2:1-24; and 12:13.
Activity: (Materials: Gift-wrap several empty boxes in bright, attractive paper—try to use boxes that look like things that are recognizable and that kids enjoy.)
1. Hold up the items one by one and ask your child(ren) to guess what’s in each package (no touching). When they guess, respond with an excited, “Maybe!?!”
2. Have a question and answer quiz game and award them with the gifts.
3. After all gifts have been distributed, allow them to open their gifts. (Of course they will all be disappointed that the boxes are empty—be prepared).
4. Give each family member a few minutes to calmly share their disappointment and how it’s affecting them. Optional: Have a small, wrapped gift waiting for them at the end of the lesson—a reward for good-sportsmanship. Focus on things with some eternal value (a small devotional, or a handwritten letter from you, Mom and/or Dad, expressing how that child has blessed your family or made you proud).
Lesson: We spend a lot of time, money, and effort on things we think are going to bring us joy…only to finally get them and still feel empty and disappointed, as with these empty boxes. Yet Jesus promises us a gift of eternal life. We don’t have enough money to pay for it, but he paid for it with his life on a Cross so we could have eternal life—full of purpose, meaning and fulfillment. We can try to find meaning in life through all kinds of things; but, in the end, we can only find any real meaning by loving and obeying God. The disciples were disappointed when they discovered the empty tomb. But disappointment turned to joy when they discovered the Risen Savior. And everyone gets the same reward!
Pray: Blaise Pascal, a famous inventor & philosopher, said that inside every man there is a god-shaped vacuum that only God can fill. We can try to fill that void in our lives with many things, but only God will bring us contentment and happiness. Ask God to point out anything that’s taking up “His space” in your lives; then, that He help your family focus on filling emptiness with more of Him—not more “stuff”.

Living It Out: Scripture Memory July 2011
5 Live wisely among those who are not believers,
and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive
so that you will have the right response for everyone.
Colossians 4:5-6 (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 New Testament in a year
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 barbr@cedarcreek.tv.

RESOURCES:
The Bible
Old Testament Commentary compiled by: Rick Kinney
Homepointe Family Activity: Jamey Koralewski

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Doug Haynam
Chantele Henry
Jamey Koralewski
Barb Roose

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Proverbs 31
vv1-31 This concluding chapter contains two poems: 1) The Wise King (vv2-9) and 2) The Excellent Wife (vv10-31). Both are the teachings of a godly mother to King Lemuel, whom ancient Jewish tradition identified as King Solomon.
vv2-9 The godly king is addressed (v2) and told that his reign should be characterized by: 1) holiness (v3); 2) sobriety (vv4-7); and 3) compassion (vv8-9). This section is filled with succinct and solemn warnings against vices to which kings are particularly susceptible—immorality, overindulgence, unrighteous rule, and indifference to those in need.
v2 “my son…” Repeated 3x’s to indicate the serious passion of a mother’s heart.
vv8-9 “speak up for those who cannot…” Plead for those who cannot plead their own case, namely those who are otherwise ruined by their condition of weakness.
vv10-31 This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother. Spiritual and practical wisdom, plus moral virtues, mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of verse 3.
v25 “strength and honor…” These words describe the character of the woman who fears the Lord. Her inward clothing displays divine wisdom, giving her confidence to face the future with its unexpected challenges.
v31 While she receives material reward, the praise and success she labored to bring to her family and community will be her praise.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.14.11

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THURSDAY— Chasing God: Life IN Christ
Today’s Big Point: There are a lot of choices we can make about what to pursue, but the wisest choice is to pursue God first—above all other things.

What was your first thought when you woke up this morning? Some of you were thinking about another day at work, and others were pondering how to keep toddlers and children from tearing up the house. Maybe you didn’t sleep well last night because you are overwhelmed with some problem or obsession that hasn’t been solved or satisfied. No matter what you were thinking about when your eyes opened this morning, please answer the following question: When did you first think about God? The question isn’t when you started asking Him for stuff or perhaps addressing Him angrily for what’s not going right—but when did you first think about God Almighty and engage with Him as such?

Chasing God is an on-going pursuit that is characterized by a dogged determination to know who God is and not give up on the daily quest to know God a little more than the day before.

Interestingly enough, as we chase God that actually diminishes our desire to chase other things because our relationship with God fills us and sustains us in all situations. Contentment is a natural by-product of pursuing God. Therefore, we can deduce that lack of contentment is probably a good indicator that we need to redouble our efforts to pursue God.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Philippians 4:4-9 (New Living Translation)
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you…

Joy comes as a gift from God. The command obviously is not for believers to manufacture or try to imitate it, but to delight in the blessing they already possess. The command is to gratefully accept and revel in this great blessing!

Everything you were taught can be put into a few words:
   Respect and obey God!
   This is what life
   is all about.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 (CEV)

THINK…Find the answers
Philippians 4:4-9 is a jam-packed, rich scriptural passage. Underline all of the portions that you connect most with. Now, try to sum up these six verses from the Apostle Paul into three sentences:

What is the difference between the joy that belongs to Christ-followers and the happiness that the world seeks?

Why isn’t joy something a Christ-follower has to wait to receive? Furthermore, what is the sole source of our joy to be?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Read Ecclesiastes 12:13. What makes this difficult for us? What is one step you can take to move in the direction of fearing God and keeping his commandments? 

Do you chase God? How has your pursuit of God impacted your level of contentment and satisfaction?

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
What are you not content about today? Has your source of discontentment wooed your thoughts and efforts away from pursuing God? Today is the day to refocus—think about the joy that you’ve been given and choose to pursue God, rather than fixate on the reasons for any discontent.

CHALLENGE: FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT!
Here’s a challenge, should you choose to accept it! Consider putting your physical nourishment off until you’ve been spiritually nourished each day. This means that you won’t eat a morsel of food until you’ve spent time with God. For those of us who get so busy that we put off spending time with God, this is a compelling tactic to help us prioritize our relationship with God over other things.

If you think you need this challenge, are you willing to try it out tomorrow?  Y  N

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Proverbs 29-30
29:1 “remains stiff-necked…” This refers to a case of increasing obstinacy, along with an unteachable spirit.
29:9 “there is no peace…” A fool may respond to wisdom with anger or laughter; but, in either case, no agreement can be reached.
29:12 “listens to lies…” A corrupt leader will draw around him corrupt people. Allow lies, and you will be surrounded by liars.
29:13 “The Lord gives sight to the eyes…” This phrase means to sustain life. God gives life to both the poor and the rich oppressor, and He holds each responsible for His truth.
29:19 “cannot be corrected by mere works…” The verse views the mind-set of an unprincipled and foolish person who is unresponsive and irresponsible.
29:24 “the accomplice of a thief…” By refusing to testify with full disclosure to avoid incrimination, a person commits perjury which leads to punishment.
30:1-33 “the words of Agur…” This is a collection of proverbs written by an unknown person who was likely a student of wisdom at the time of Solomon.
30:2-3 This is a statement of humility and recognition of the reality that, apart from divine revelation, there would be no true wisdom.
30:6 “do not add to His words…” To add to God’s word is to deny God as the standard of truth.
30:17 “the eye that mocks a father…” This proverb vividly speaks to the tragic results of disregarding parental respect and authority and the destruction it brings.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.13.11

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Wednesday — Chasing Power
Today’s Big Point: We’re doomed to failure if we seek satisfaction by achieving greatness, security, or status. Power is at its best when it is used to serve and lead as Jesus taught.

Power. Even the word is seductive. A love of power can separate the most resolute of Christians from the true nature of Christian leadership, which is to serve others. This truth is perhaps most graphically illustrated in the world of politics. Power corrupts, but power itself is not necessarily corrupt. God has given power to the state to restrain evil and maintain order. It’s the use of power, whether for personal gain or for the state’s ordained function, that is really at issue. Jesus Christ turned conventional views of power upside-down. He not only offered mankind redemption, He also washed the dusty feet of His own followers.

Nothing distinguishes the kingdoms of man from the kingdom of God more than their diametrically opposed views of the exercise of power. One seeks to control people; the other seeks to serve people. One promotes self; the other prostrates self. One seeks prestige and position; the other lifts up the lowly and despised. Through this upside-down view of power, the Kingdom of God can play a special role in the affairs of the world. When we practice this view of power, we’re setting an example for our neighbors by modeling servanthood—and exposing the illusions worldly power creates.

This doesn’t mean that Christians can’t use power. In positions of leadership, the Christian uses power with a different motive and in a different way: to serve, to seek the common good, and to seek justice. Those who accept the biblical view of servant leadership treat power as a humbling delegation from God, not as a right to control others. The challenge for the Christian in a position of influence is to follow the example of Jesus, who knelt down to wash His disciples’ feet. (Mark Early)

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ecclesiastes 2:8-9 (New Living Translation) 
I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces… 9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me.

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. Matthew 4:8-10 (NLT) 

THINK…Find the answers
God gave wisdom to Solomon. How did he use it?

In contrast, how did Jesus react to Satan’s offer of power, wealth, and glory?

LIVE…What will you do now?
C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters contains fictional correspondence between a young demon, Wormwood—who is just learning how to vex Christians—and his more powerful demonic uncle, Screwtape. Toward the end of the book, Screwtape advises his young nephew on how to derail a Christian: “Let him begin by treating patriotism…as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely a part of the “cause,” in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce…Once he’s made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.”

In Chuck Colson’s book, God & Government, he argues that the temptation to think we can change the world by acquiring political power is the very temptation Jesus resisted when tempted by the devil. How easy it would have been for Jesus to accept Satan’s offer to reign over all the governments of the world! If Jesus accepted Satan’s offer, Colson notes, he “could enforce the Sermon on the Mount: love and justice could reign”. But rather than rule, Christ chose to go to the cross for us, sacrificing his very life, and in giving of himself, gave everything to us.

With a commitment to live as Christ taught us, how can you have as big an impact on the world as any political leader?

We all serve in leadership roles of some sort. CedarCreek is an active sponsor of The Global Leadership Summit. Is this the time for you to investigate how you can lead in a way that serves Christ by attending the Summit?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God’s blessings on our leaders, both those in political power and those who have other power in the world. Pray that those leaders might have the wisdom of Solomon and the servant heart of Christ. Ask God to empower you in ways that will allow you to do His will to serve others, seek justice, and care for those who need it. And ask God to help you “Lead Where You Are” by being a living example of Christ’s love.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Proverbs 28
v1 A guilty conscience imagines accusers everywhere, while a clear conscience has the boldness to face everyone.
v2 “it has many rulers…” Unrighteousness in a nation produces political instability with many vying for power; thus, the tenure of each leader is shortened. Wisdom promotes social order and long rule.
v3 “oppress the poor…” When the poor come to power and oppress their own, it’s as bad as a violent storm flooding the fields, instead of watering the crop.
v8 “by exorbitant interest…” The law forbade the charging of interest to fellow Jews, but this was often violated.
v11 “rich man is wise in his own eyes…” This contrasts the discerning poor with the rich man, who is deceived by his self-confidence. Riches are not always possessed by the unrighteous and wisdom by the poor. But more often than not, this is the case due to the blinding nature of wealth.
v13 “conceals…prosper…” Sin must not be covered but confessed.
v20 “richly blessed…” Blessings are the product of honest labor.
v21 “a piece of bread…” A small bribe.
v23 Flattery has no value, but reproof does—it leads to gratitude.
v25 This is arrogance that satisfies itself at the expense of conflict with others; it never knows the prosperity of humble trust in God.
v27 “closes his eyes…” A person who doesn’t respond to the needs of the poor.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.12.11

Click  here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.12.11.

Tuesday — Chasing Pleasure, Possessions, Entertainment
Today’s Big Point: Chasing the winds of self-gratification will never leave us fulfilled, or make us whole. Instead, God promises us peace and fulfillment when we trust and obey Him.

French author Guy de Maupassant was one of the greatest writers of short stories the world has ever known. He rose from relative obscurity to fame quickly—just what he thought he’d always wanted. His material possessions showed a life of affluence: a yacht in the Mediterranean, a large house on the Norman coast, a luxurious apartment in Paris. It was said that, “critics praised him, men admired him and women worshipped him.” He had all the trappings of what the world would call the “fulfilled-dream life.” Yet at the height of his fame he went insane, brought on by what those close to him called a “promiscuous lifestyle.” On New Year’s Day in 1892, he tried to cut his own throat with a letter-opener, and lived out the last few weeks of his life in a private asylum on the French Riviera. He died at the age of 42, but before he went insane he prophetically wrote what was to be his epitaph. Guy de Maupassant wrote, “I have coveted everything and taken pleasure in nothing.”

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ecclesiastes 2:1,4-8,10-11 (NLT)
1 I said to myself, “Come on, let’s try pleasure. Let’s look for the ‘good things’ in life.” But I found that this, too, was meaningless. 4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8…I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure… 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.

The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those who hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity. 15 And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.
Luke 8:14-15 (NLT)

Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy… 4 But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, 5 he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy…
Titus 3:3-5 (NLT)

THINK…Find the answers
Circle each time Solomon uses the pronoun “I” in the Ecclesiastes verses above. What does this indicate about his focus in life?

What did Solomon conclude regarding his pursuit to discover the “good life”?

According to Luke 8, how can chasing the ‘winds’ of self-gratification limit our spiritual growth?

LIVE…What will you do now?
When we are spiritually adrift, rather than in the center of God’s will, and futile patterns begin to develop in our lives, many things begin to occur. One of them is that we become ‘driven’ in all of our activities (i.e. pursuing pleasure, possessions, endless entertainment…).
Solution: Remember, only God gives purpose to our lives!

How much of your time do you spend on activities or pursuits each day that might just be meaningless (from an eternal perspective); and, how does that amount of time relate to the amount of time you spend pursuing God?

Solomon was in charge of building the Temple of the Lord. It took him seven years to build God’s house. Solomon spent fourteen years building his own house. What does this say about Solomon? Do you find yourself investing more in your own pleasures and kingdom, than investing in the pleasure of God and His kingdom and work? What can you do to change your focus from you—to the Lord?

CHALLENGE:
This week, determine not to focus on what you want.
Attempt to live this week with the mindset of how you might bless someone else in the name of Jesus.

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you get back on track and rescue you from being spiritually adrift. Lay down your fruitless pursuits and envious ways, and ask Him to fill you instead with His good blessings from above.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Proverbs 26-27
26:1-12 Aspects of natural order that are violated by the behavior of a fool.
26:2 “undeserved curse…” A bird’s aimless motion without landing is compared to a fool who utters an underserved curse – it does not land either.
26:4-5 “answer a fool…” Taken together, these verses teach the appropriate way to answer a fool (an unbeliever who rejects truth). He shouldn’t be answered with agreement to his own ideas and presuppositions, or he’ll think that he’s right; rather, he should be rebuked on the basis of his folly, and shown the truth so he sees how foolish he is.
26:11 Peter quotes this disgusting proverb in 2 Peter 2:22
26:17-28 A picturesque discourse on the evil speaking of fools and lazy people, and their harmful effects.
26:17 “grabs a dog by the ears…” The dog was not domesticated in Palestine so to grab any dog was dangerous. Therefore, the aggressor deserved to be bitten.
26:23 “like a coating of glaze…” A cheap coating of silver over a common clay pot hid its commonness and fragility—like deception spoken by evil people.
27:1 “boast about tomorrow…” Fools think they know the future or can affect its outcome, but the future rests with sovereign God.
27:4 “jealousy…” The most uncontrollable sin.
27:10 Adhere to tried and true friends. The ties of blood may be less reliable than those of genuine friendship.
27:11 A wise son accredits his father and also helps him in difficulty with appropriate answers. This proverb is true in reverse as well.
27:17 “iron sharpens iron…” The benefits of intellectual discussion encourage joy through a keener mind and the improvement of good character.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.11.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.11.11.

Series: Vintage Faith
This Week: Solomon—Wind Chaser

We’re going to start with a game today: the “Gut Level Honesty Game.” After each statement, check the box if it applies to you. Begin each with, “I’m not very satisfied with”: my house or car ◊, my current financial picture ◊, my body or the way I look ◊, my job ◊, the way that I’ve been living my life ◊. If you checked most, or all, of the boxes then be assured that you’re NOT alone!

As a matter of fact, in 1965, there was a guy that felt a lot like you might today. He sat down and wrote the song, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” You’d think that in the over 45-year period since, that the author, Mick Jagger, would’ve gotten some kind of satisfaction, right? No… the brother is 68 this month and he’s still putting on his tight pants, his false teeth, and rockin’ the world with his anthem. He still can’t get no satisfaction! Believe it or not, this song by the Rolling Stones is a soundtrack for the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon’s ‘private journal’ of sorts.

I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try
and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no
~Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones

In a nutshell: King Solomon was full of purpose, had a plan, and was willing to do whatever God asked him to do… until one day when he just ‘got in his car and drove away’ from God. Wandering through life lost, Solomon drove through life on this 40-year journey just taste-testing life trying to find satisfaction and meaning in it.

His first taste-test was knowledge, greatness, power and security. The Bible says that people came from all over the surrounding countries just to hear the wisdom and see the power of King Solomon, and none of it satisfied. So King Solomon’s next taste-test was all about the money—possessions and status. He was the most powerful guy in the entire world and still, absolutely none of it satisfied. And so his third and final taste-test was all about the women and the wine—pleasure and entertainment. He tried it one night, thought that tasted pretty good, and tried it again. Then, 40 years later, he took his last drink of that, wadded up the cup and concluded that it didn’t satisfy either. When all was said and done, Solomon had searched for the meaning of life for over 40 years!

Are you satisfied? Would you be satisfied with more? We look at King Solomon and say we’d never do that! I’d never go pursue satisfaction with power, money or sex—I’m beyond that. But, the reality is that we probably do it every single day. We don’t do it in this huge type of a way; but, we play the taste-test game in small drinks. Maybe you’re trying out religion to satisfy you, a new relationship, or a new job. Perhaps you keep telling yourself that if you could just acquire ’this’ or achieve ’that’ then you’d be satisfied. If so, like Solomon, one day you’ll wake up, look around at your life, and just see empty cup after cup after cup—all these things that you’ve taste-tested only to find out it’s all meaningless. None of it satisfies.

So, what is it for you? What’s the cup that you continue to drink from day after day and week after week hoping it’ll satisfy? King Solomon had it all, but still sought more. What he found is that the problem with having everything in the world is, well, having everything in the world! Solomon discovered that, even though he tried and he tried, he couldn’t get no satisfaction. His ultimate conclusion was that following God and His commandments is all that matters—all else is meaningless.

Monday — Chasing Knowledge
Today’s Big Point: Solomon’s gift to us was that his own wasted life became the ultimate object lesson for listening to God rather than our own wisdom.

Intelligence is not the same as wisdom!
A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the passengers on a small plane. The pilot came out of the cockpit and said the plane was going down, but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot added, “I need one of them because I have a wife and three small children.” So he took one and jumped.
The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So he took one and jumped.
The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said, “You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” The Boy Scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just picked up my knapsack and jumped out!

Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge…
Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ecclesiastes 1:13-14,18 (NLT)
I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven… 14 I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. 18 The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow.

James 3:13-15,17 (NLT)
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom… 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (NLT)
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. 27 Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28 God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29 As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 30 God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin.

THINK…Find the answers.
Solomon leaves us wondering if we should even waste our time seeking wisdom. Then we read Paul’s and James’ words, realizing that it’s not wisdom itself that’s unfulfilling, but worldly wisdom that leaves us empty. Identify the differences between earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom in both James and 1 Corinthians:

In light of what you read in 1 Corinthians 1:30, explain Proverbs 1:7:

“I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of those about me seemed insufficient for the day.” ~Abraham Lincoln

LIVE…What will you do now?
James 3:17 paints a picture of what we look like when our wisdom comes from above. When you take a hard look at how you interact with others in your everyday life, where do you think you’re pulling wisdom from?

Would those around you say you’re fixated on being “right” all the time, or do you patiently plant seeds of truth and love?

Think about where you have trusted in your own knowledge and wisdom and how it failed you. How have you experienced the grief and sorrow Solomon is speaking of by relying on your own knowledge and wisdom?

If real wisdom is the application of the knowledge and freedom contained in God’s Word, then what do you think you need to do or change in your life in order to stop leaning on your own understanding?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
A very effective way to pray is to pray God’s Word. Here’s an excerpt from Proverbs 3 that you can personalize and pray: 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take. 7 Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. 8 Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. (NLT)
*(Another good one is Paul’s “Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom” in Ephesians 1:15-23.)

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Proverbs 25
v1 This collection of 137 proverbs was originated by Solomon and copied into a collection during the reign of King Hezekiah over 200 years later.
vv2-3 “God…kings…” The roles of God and the king are compared. God, whose knowledge is above all human knowledge and whose ways are unsearchable, keeps things to Himself because He needs no counsel. On the contrary, kings should seek to know what they must know in order to rule righteously.
vv6-7 In the royal court, as in life, selfishness and pride bring a person down.
vv8-10 “go hastily to court…” When conflict arises, the person with a contentious spirit is quick to go to court; but he is better off to talk it over with his neighbor than to expose himself to public shame in court where all will be told.
v20 “vinegar on soda…” Pouring vinegar on baking soda produces a reaction like boiling water, or turning tranquility into agitation. So is the effect of singing joyful songs without sympathy to the sorrowful.
v26 The righteous person who sins muddies the water for the wicked that see him and for whom he should serve as an example of righteousness.
v27 Eating honey is like enjoying the sweetness of your own self-glory.
v28 “city broken down…” They are exposed and vulnerable to the incursion of evil thoughts and successful temptations.