Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.16.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.16.12.

Thursday – Joy and Paradise vs. Pain and Regret
Big Point: God graciously gives us a choice about where we wish to spend eternity and what we want to experience—everlasting joy and paradise or never ending pain and regret.

        In a sermon discussing Heaven and Hell, pastor Craig Roeschel discusses a city from the Old Testament known as Gehenna, which means the place of everlasting punishment. In this city, a fire was constantly burning and people would throw the bodies of criminals and animals and all the garbage from the city onto the fire. Gehenna, this place where the fire never burns out, is compared to what Hell will be like. It may be impossible without an image like that to realize the serious nature of the eternity and seriousness of Hell.
       On the flip side, Randy Alcorn, author of the book, “If God Is Good,” points out the promise with Christianity of a new body, heart and mind as a reality in Heaven. Alcorn writes of Heaven, “Every passing year increases my longing to live on the resurrected Earth in my resurrected body, with my resurrected family and friends, worshiping and serving the resurrected Jesus. I get goose bumps just thinking about it! Many disabled believers have heard others say about the resurrection, “You must look forward to walking and running.” True enough, but one handicapped Christian made a particularly revealing comment: “What I look forward to most is kneeling.” Our resurrected bodies will fulfill their highest function as we glorify God in our bodies, worshiping him without hindrance, fatigue or distraction.”
        Can these two scenarios even be compared?

Read and Think…. Find Answers in the Bible
1. Read the following passage and look for images of the agony of Hell. What action was the cause of this punishment? How long will this punishment occur?

Revelation 14:9-11 (New Living Translation)
Then a third angel followed them, shouting, “Anyone who worships the beast and his statue or who accepts his mark on the forehead or on the hand 10 must drink the wine of God’s anger. It has been poured full strength into God’s cup of wrath. And they will be tormented with fire and burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. 11 The smoke of their torment will rise forever and ever, and they will have no relief day or night, for they have worshiped the beast and his statue and have accepted the mark of his name.”

Answer:

 

 

2. Read the following passage and look for images that let you know that the rider on the horse is Jesus. What allusions to other scriptures do you see in these verses? What images indicate that this is a victorious, triumphant portrait of Jesus?

 

Revelation 19: 11-16 11
Then I saw heaven opened, and a white horse was standing there. Its rider as named Faithful and True, for he judges fairly and wages a righteous war. 12His eyes were like flames of fire, and on his head were many crowns. A name was written on him that no one understood except himself. 13 He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. 15 From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod. He will release the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty, like juice flowing from winepress. 16 On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and lord of all lords.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Have you ever regretted something and felt pain from the regret? Describe your experience in that situation. Then, write out how it would feel to never feel resolve or closure from that experience and to have to experience that for all of eternity.

 

 

Think about the images of the torment of Hell from question one. It is freeing to know that we can rely on our salvation and feel safe from such a fate. Indeed, it’s something to praise God for. However, when faced with the sobering thought of the reality of Hell, what effect should that have on our relationships and sharing opportunities?

 

 

Some of us live with chronic pain, fatigue and an overall sense of low energy and poor health. Imagine the joy in heaven when God creates us new: new body, heart and mind. What joys are you looking forward to? Describe the encouragement you can provide to someone who may struggle with earthly pain, sadness and regret. Write out how you can encourage them with what you learned from today’s study.

Do you stumble trying to find the right words to say to someone who is struggling? Perhaps HomeMatters’ material can help.
Simply pick up a brochure at any campus to help guide your conversation.

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Take a few moments to allow the magnitude of eternity to wash over you. Let yourself feel the reality of God’s judgment. Take a moment to thank God for His plan that includes a new body, heart and mind.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.15.12

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WEDNESDAY — Heaven=Light &Hell=Darkness
Big Point: God is a light that no darkness can penetrate. We reflect this light when we follow Jesus; but the shadows of a sinful world are still present until God sentences us to either the light or the darkness.

        As children, and occasionally as adults, we are often afraid of the unknown that lingers in the darkness. Our hearts race. Our palms sweat with anxiety. Shadows dance on the walls, creating images that our minds tell us are monsters or demons. When we were younger, our parents may have plugged in a nightlight or given us a flashlight to deter our fears. Similarly, we live our lives in the darkness of sin, but glimpses of our Father God’s light put our worries to rest. On our day of judgment, we will either be sentenced to an eternity of blackness or dwell in His brilliance forever.
        At the end of the popular book, “The Return of the King,” author J.R.R. Tolkien writes about Sam coming to consciousness with Gandalf standing before him, robed in white, his face glistening in the sunlight. He asks, “Well, Master Samwise, how do you feel?” But Sam lay back, and stared with open mouth, and for a moment, between bewilderment and great joy, he could not answer. At last he gasped: “Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?”
        “A great shadow has departed,” said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from bed… “How do I feel?” he cried.” Well, I don’t know how to say it. I feel, I feel” he waved his arms in the air—“I feel like spring after winter, and sun on the leaves; and like trumpets and harps and all the songs I have ever heard!.” How will we feel when the great shadow departs forever?

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. What do the following scriptures tell us about heaven, where God dwells?

John 1:5 (New Living Translation)
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.

Revelation 22:5 (New Living Translation)
And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.

Answer:

 

 

2. The following scriptures describe where people are going that are not entering the Kingdom that God has prepared for them. What outcome will these people face?

Matthew 8:12 (New Living Translation)
But many Israelites—those for whom the Kingdom was prepared—will be thrown into outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jude 1:13 (New Living Translation)
They are like wild waves of the sea, churning up the foam of their shameful deeds. They are like wandering stars, doomed forever to blackest darkness. Answer:

 

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
In John 1:5, we learn that Jesus tells us that God is a light that no darkness can put out. God’s light is so bright, He alone illuminates Heaven! Imagine and describe how you will praise and worship our God clothed in such glorious splendor.

 

It is difficult to envision an eternal life where there is no darkness because we now dwell in a world where sin is very real. However, Heaven is waiting for those who choose to follow Jesus. Reread the last paragraph from the excerpt of The Return of the King where Sam describes how he feels when everything sad comes untrue. Describe how you will feel when the great shadow of bad choices and suffering departs forever.

 

The scriptures above give a clear depiction of Hell as a very dark, miserable place. Think about a time when you were caught in the dark and couldn’t find a light. Did you experience any anxiety? Now, imagine spending an eternity in the “blackest darkness.” How does this alter the way you will share Heaven and Hell with non-believers?

 

 

John also records in John 8:12 that Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” How are you reflecting that light in your life? Are there areas where you may be walking in darkness and need to repent and follow Jesus?

 

 

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Take time to worship and praise God for shining His light where there is a great shadow. Pray for guidance to follow Him and reflect his light to the world. Repent of your sins to dwell in His splendor forever.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.14.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.14.12.

When we really believe that Hell exists,
our lives should be dramatically different.

 

TUESDAY—Everyone is Going to Either Heaven or Hell
Big Point: Don’t be fooled—there are only two places where we will live for all eternity after we die—that’s Heaven or Hell. Be confident where you will spend eternity and genuinely trust Christ for your salvation today.

        Our eternal destination is truly the most important decision we make in our lives—both for us individually and for those around us. Craig Groeshel illustrates this by telling the story of Charles Peace. Charles Peace was a murderer in England in the 1800s. On the day of his execution, a chaplain came to speak to him and told him to accept Jesus in order to go to Heaven, or go to Hell. When the murderer asked the chaplain—Do you really believe that? Do you really believe in Hell? The chaplain answered, “I think so.” Charles responded to the chaplain, “Sir, I do not share your faith, but if I did, if I believed what you say you believed, then although England was covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would crawl the length and the breadth of it on hand and knee, and think the pain worthwhile, just to save a single soul from this eternal Hell of which you speak.”

        Well, here’s a harsh and sobering statement: We are all sinners and deserve hell. Yes, sin is evil and Hell is an eternal correction of and compensation for evil. To fear and dread Hell is understandable and we should live our lives dramatically differently knowing that Hell exists.

         But our most immediate question must be, “How does one avoid Hell?” Well, one sure-fire way to establish eternal security is to accept Christ as your personal Savior and follow Romans 10:9 for salvation. When we do that, the Bible says we go from death to eternal life. Contrary to what some believe, we don’t lose our salvation to eternal damnation as a result of sin or lack of performance. Believing and accepting Christ ensures that we will live in Heaven with God after we die in this life. But be cautious—one must not merely repeat a prayer of salvation. Rather, we are forgiven when we sincerely and genuinely trust Christ for salvation.
       

        Yet still, the bottom line is this: we are all going to one of two places when we die—Heaven or Hell. Do you know where you are going?

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. As we read in the introductory paragraph, there is one way we know we can establish our citizenship in Heaven. Read the scripture below that tells us where our citizenship is and what we should do while we are here on earth:

Philippians 3:20 (New International Version)
20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ …

Answer:

 

 

2. Jesus takes sin pretty seriously and he requires some painful discipline of his followers to get rid of this thing call sin. Read the scripture below to understand what Christ asks us to do about the sin in our lives and write it out below.

Mark 9:43 (New Living Translation)
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It’s better to enter eternal life with only one hand than to go into the unquenchable fires of hell with two hands.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Knowing that everyone will be judged, that the wages of sin is death, that there is actually a place called Hell and a place called Heaven, what do you know you must do to secure a spot in Heaven so that you don’t find yourself on the highway to Hell?

 

 

Describe any hesitation or questions you have about your own eternal security.

 

 

Write out how you will encourage someone to learn of their eternal security. We must be prepared to tell others of our faith and the assurance we have in our own eternal security. We don’t want to say words like “I think I am going to heaven” to someone who wants eternal security. What will you say?

 

Have you found yourself struggling with persistent and habitual sin? How far are you willing to go to get rid of that sin in your life—are you willing to cut off your own hand, which for some people could mean giving up a relationship, a job, a habit that is against God’s will? Giving up those very things can be painful. Describe how far you are willing to go to cut out that sin in your life.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to be Lord of your life—sincerely accept Christ as your personal savior and secure your spot in Heaven. Ask Him to help you to do whatever it takes to help you turn away from the sin in your life and to have the confidence in your eternal security.

Do you struggle with knowing where you will spend eternity? Perhaps you could learn more about what the Bible has to say by joining a New Christian Life Group. Find a LifeGroup by going to cedarcreek.tv, click on “get connected” or stop by the LifeGroup wall at your campus.

 

Reminder: You’ll find the Daily Bible Reading commentary for Genesis 45-47 at www.livingitout.tv and click on the commentary links.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.13.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.13.12.

• 71% of Americans
believe in Hell
• 76% of Americans
believe in Heaven
• 1% of Americans
expect to go to
Hell
• 64% say they are
going to Heaven
Source: Barna
        Research Group   

 Last week, we talked about God’s incomparable power. We thought about the Almighty God who spoke all of creation into existence. The Incomparable God who set all of heaven and earth into place and who knows all of the stars by name and who knows you personally and deeply. This week, we’ll see how everyone will face God’s judgment at the end of their lives and how everyone faces the choice of where to live out their eternal life—Heaven or Hell.

In his book,Erasing Hell,” Francis Chan writes that when we are thinking about topics like God’s judgment and Heaven and Hell, we need to be prepared to accept “a God who isn’t easy to understand, and whose ways are far beyond us; a God whose thoughts are much higher than our thoughts; a God who, as the sovereign Creator and Sustainer of all things, has every right to do WHATEVER He pleases.” Chan points to Psalm 115:3 which reads, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.” The point is that whatever we are bringing to the table in this conversation about God’s judgment, whatever questions, whatever worries or fears—we need to lay them before God and approach His word with an open mind knowing that the essential character of God is love.

The issue of how to reconcile God’s love and God’s judgment is not an easy one. In Randy Alcorn’s book, If God is Good,” he quotes atheist Bertrand Russell who said, “There is one very serious defect in my mind to Christ’s moral character, and that is He believed in hell. I do not myself feel that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.” Alcorn asks, “Shall we believe Jesus or Bertrand Russell? For me it is not a difficult choice. C.S. Lewis said of Hell, ‘There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, of Our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason.’ We cannot make Hell go away simply because the thought of it makes us uncomfortable.”

What difference does it make if we take away Heaven and Hell? Why can’t we simply just reassure people that everyone who is a nice person will go to Heaven? Especially if we know Christ, why do we have to spend time thinking about God’s judgment on unbelievers? To answer these questions, we have to remember God’s elaborate salvation plan for us through Christ, set forth the minute Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden, extended to you personally by God. A plan that requires the sacrifice of the Son. A plan to cover you, once and for all, with Jesus’ blood. Why would God put His son through that if it wasn’t of incredible importance to us? In fact, it is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. He gave His son. It’s real. And it makes all the difference in the world to believe and understand that.

“But if it is true, if the Bible does teach that there is a literal hell awaiting those who don’t believe in Jesus, then this reality must change us. It should certainly purge our souls of all complacency.”
–Francis Chan,
from Erasing Hell

Monday – We Will All Be Judged
Big Point: Judgment is inevitable, but God made a way for us to face judgment by sending His only son to bring us salvation.

        Most of us don’t see ourselves as people destined for Hell. Less than 1% of us think that’s our final destination. The worldly standards are so low that the type of people we expect to go there are people like Hitler, Stalin, Bundy or Gacy. These people seemed to be unrepentant destroyers of God’s creation. Most of us feel God’s judgment will be swift for these types of criminals, but it’s hard to imagine a loving God judging our lives at the end. To argue about God’s judgment here would be to argue against God’s justice there. Without God’s judgment, justice would never be realized. If this were our only life, all evil would have to be judged here and all goodness rewarded here. Guilty people can rationalize sin, but God’s judgment exists because sin has consequences that cannot be excused or escaped.
        The men mentioned above are the types of evil we think of when we welcome God’s judgment, but what about our lives? Are we ready for this judgment? Most of us believe we are pretty good people and hope that our good outweighs our bad. Do we really understand God’s standards? The Bible says not one person is righteous in the eyes of God so He sent His only son Jesus Christ in a remarkable act of love to help insure we spend eternity with Him. All we have to do is accept His free gift. This is proof of the love God has for us. He also proves His love by committing Himself to solving the problem of evil.

Read and Think…Find Answers in the Bible
1. What does the following scripture tell us about our righteousness in God’s eyes?

Romans 3:10 (New Living Translation)
As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.”

Answer:

2. The Bible clearly teaches there is a judgment. We will be held accountable for our lives and for our faith or lack of faith in Christ. Read the verses below. What is our future apart from Christ?

Hebrews 9:27 (New Living Translation)
And just as each person is destined to die once and after that comes judgment.

Romans 6:23 (New Living Translation)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Answer:

3. How does God’s free gift of grace relate to God’s judgment?
John 3:16 (New Living Translation)
For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

Answer:

Live….What will you do now?
Everyone ends up somewhere. The first step in becoming more intentional on being prepared for your day of judgment is to ask yourself—do you believe that everyone will face God’s judgment?

What questions or reservations do you have?

How could you answer the questions others might have about God’s judgment?

Charlotte Bronte, an English novelist and poet said, “Men judge us by the success of our efforts. God looks at the efforts themselves.” How many times have you said or heard someone say, “God knows what he or she did” or “God will punish them”? What is your reaction to the knowledge that all people will be judged for their actions on earth?

In Romans 6:23 we find out the wage of sin is death. People who accept Christ as their savior are born twice (physically and spiritually) and die once (physically). People who do not accept Christ are only born once (physically) but die twice. With this much at stake how can we share the importance of a faith in Christ to the people around us?

Pray … God what do you want me to know and do?
Let God know you realize the severity of His time of judgment. Thank Him for the gift He has given us in Christ. Knowing that one day we will all face His judgment, ask God to give you boldness and resolve in what the Bible tells us. We exist for His glory to be ambassadors in His name to the world.

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 02.10.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.10.12.

FRIDAY — God is—All of that and More!
Big Point: From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea, creation reveals Your majesty! Indescribable, uncontainable, all-powerful, untamable—you are Amazing God!

Wow, what a week! We hope that we provided a glimpse into who God is but even, alas, we know we did not do God justice. After a week like this, one can clearly understand why Chris Tomlin’s song, “Indescribable” is so very popular and thought provoking. As we close out this week, take some time to read the lyrics to this song and answer a few more questions:
“From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea, creation’s revealing your majesty. From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring. Every creature unique in the song that it sings. All exclaiming…

Indescribable, uncontainable, you placed the stars in the sky and you know them by name. You are amazing God. All powerful, untamable, awestruck we fall to our knees and we humbly proclaim, You are amazing God.

Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go, Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow? Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light, yet conceals it to give us the coolness of night? None can fathom…”

You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same. You are amazing God!

LIVE…What will you do now?
We encourage you to pick up the book, “What is God Really Like?” by Craig Groeschel that we have referenced throughout this entire Bible study. Each author respectively describes God as strong, here, incomparable, reconciler, certain, encouraging, for you, present, able, in control, merciful, close, big, not like me, more, and as our father. Take a moment and describe what you learned about God this week that you did not know before or that provided a reminder of who He is:

 

 

Ask yourself this question: When people think of you, do they describe you as powerful? If someone would describe you, is that a word they would use? Do you have that kind of confidence in your your God? Are you that sure of what He’s able to do through you? If not, explain why:

 

 

A low view of God is the cause
of a hundred evils. A high view
of God is the solution to 10,000
temporal problems.
A. W. Tozer, popular
preacher and best selling
author.

It’s time to release your small view of God. Do you realize the strong, powerful and majestic God that we serve? It’s time to stop being “wimpy, wimpy, wimpy” and start being “hefty, hefty, hefty.” Describe two areas of your life where you will be the confident, bold, and strong individual that God has created you to be:

 

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Thank God for revealing His majesty and His power. Thank and praise Him in advance for being strong and mighty in your life. Thank Him for being the person you know you can’t be on your own!

 

Weekend Updates!

• Did You Miss Commitment Day? If you followed along with the Living it Out this past month, you likely completed all the work for Missional Membership. Did you follow through with making that final commitment? It’s not too late. Simply go to cedarcreek.tv under the get connected tab and find Membership and complete the final steps of commitment. It’s the Highest Level of Commitment at CedarCreek church.

• 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 and $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.

• Interested in getting Baptized: Baptisms will be held at New Community on Sunday, February 26 at 6pm at the West Toledo Campus. Attend one of the following Baptism classes: Sunday, Feb 12 and 10:45am and Feb 26 at 4pm at the West Toledo Campus ONLY. Then at ALL campuses on Sunday, Feb 19 at 10:45am.

• Fabulous Conference: Mark your calendars and register for Fabulous 2012 – this year’s theme is “Fabulous…. It’s Woman’s Work!” The purpose of the Fabulous Conference is to inspire and encourage you to become the fabulous woman that God intends for you to be. This year’s conference dates are Thursday, May 17 and Friday, May 18 at CedarCreek.tv Perrysburg Campus. Fabulous 2012 is open to all women (aged 16 and above) so invite your girlfriends for this event! Last year, 900 women participated in our first Fabulous Conference – it was amazing! This year’s Fabulous Conference will be even better! Register now at cedarcreek.tv under the “get connected” tab.

*NEW* 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 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 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:
What is god Really Like?” By Craig Groeschel and several other authors

 

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Alyssa Baker
Diana Patton
Emily Francis
Rebecka Blevins

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.09.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.09.12.

THURSDAY – God Is Faithful
Big Point: Understanding God’s faithfulness is essential in developing our relationship with God. God’s faithfulness is the basis of our trust in Him.

  Here we are—five weeks into 2012. Should we check in on those new year’s resolutions? Isn’t it strange how even the things we want to do, the things we know are good for us, even things we desire, we sometimes cannot follow through on? Trips to the gym? Food diary? Daily Bible reading? Prayer? Yet, what might be even more strange is that we are continually surprised by this phenomenon. You might be thinking, “Well, I’m faithful to my spouse.” But as one LIO writer notes, “I might not be romantically involved with anyone else, but does that mean I faithfully love my husband? Pray for him? Encourage him? Respect him?”
Even the apostle Paul writes in Romans 7:18, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” For people, being faithful to something is perhaps the hardest thing for us to do. It may very well be impossible, which is why it is hard for us to wrap our minds around the concept that God is faithful.

        But in fact, He is faithful. God is faithful to His Word. He is faithful to his people. He is faithful in all circumstances. Faithfulness is an essential quality of our God. In his essay on the Faithfulness of God, A.W. Pink wrote, “Unfaithfulness is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days…How refreshing then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above the scene of ruin, and behold one who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times.” Today spend some time contemplating the awesome faithfulness of God.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. In the verse below, what is the relationship of God’s faithfulness to our faithfulness? How do we know that faithfulness is a fundamental part of God’s character? Write your answers below:

 

 

2 Timothy 2:13 (New Living Translation)
If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is.

Answer:

 

2. Often we shy away from using absolutes like we will always do this and we will never do that. What do the absolutes in the following verses tell us about God?
Romans 15:8 (New Living Translation)
Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors.

Hebrews 13:5 (New International Version)
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Answer:

 

“Know this:
God, your God, is God
indeed, a God you can
depend upon.”
Deuteronomy 7:9,
From The Message

3. In each of the verses above, how important is our behavior in relation to God’s faithfulness?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Do you believe that God is faithful? That He is true to His word? That He will never forsake you? If you do believe this, how do you know? How have you experienced God’s faithfulness in your life or seen His faithfulness in the lives of others?

If you are unsure about the questions above, did anything in today’s verses surprise or challenge you? Are there questions or doubts lingering in the back of your mind? Write down your questions to God right now.

Accepting this truth about God’s character is the foundation of our trust in Him. When we believe that God is faithful to His word and promises, we can act on them. What is one word of God that He has given to you, calling you to step out in faith, and trusting in His faithfulness?

Do you ever feel like you don’t have enough, that you are not good enough, that you will never be able to live the life that you dream of? Describe how content you are with what you have.

Now, describe how content you could be with your life if you truly know that God will never leave you or forsake you.

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
Think about this word: faithful. Ask God to show you the enormity of this word and how He fulfills every ounce of it. God loves you. God is with you. God will never leave you. Thank Him for the sacrifice of His son in order to keep His promise. Trust in Him; rest in His steadfast love.

“We struggle, we climb, and we claw our way through the challenges that life throws at us. Sometimes we win; sometimes we lose. But the one constant that is always there is that God is always wanting to help. We don’t need to go it alone and with God anything is possible.”
God’s Whisper—Bill Hybels

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.08.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.08.12.

WEDNESDAY — FYI … God is Always For You
Big Point: If you truly believe that God is always for you, you will know that nothing can ever stop you—nothing can stand against God’s will for your life!

How can one really know that God is for them? Well, Jentezen Franklin, in the chapter, “God is Able,” used Joshua’s story in the Bible to basically hush any doubt that in fact, God is for us!
        Joshua and his army defeated the five kings who were keeping God’s people from entering the promised land. First, they chased these kings until finally they hid in a cave. After Joshua and his army slaughtered the king’s forces, he brought the five kings out of the cave and here’s what happened next. Joshua called for all the men of Israel, and said, unto the captains of the men of war which went with him, “Come near, put your feet upon the neck of these kings.” And they came near, and put their feet upon the necks of them. And Joshua said unto them, “Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage: for thus shall the Lord do to all of your enemies against whom ye fight.” And afterward Joshua smote them, and slew them, and hanged them on five trees. Joshua 10:24-26 KJV.
        Whoa! Did you catch that? The King James Version uses the term dismayed; the literal translation means “to be made unable.” So Joshua was saying to his men “Don’t be made unable. Don’t fall apart. Don’t freak out. Even though you’re facing impossibility, a great opposition, don’t be afraid. But first you have to get victory over these five kings.” In our every day life, our senses (what we smell, see, feel, hear and taste) can get in the way of what God has for us, making us believe that God is not for us. Don’t be made unable by your senses. Use Joshua as an example and put your foot on the neck of your senses—subdue them and say “You’re not going to steal from me what I know God’s Word has promised me.”

READ and THINK … Find the Answers in the Bible
1. It seems God was pleased with David as He replaced Saul and chose David— David had something that Saul didn’t. Read Acts 13:22 and describe what God saw in David and what David was willing to do for God.
Acts 13:22 (New Living Translation)
But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’

Answer:

 

2. Remember the story of the adulterous woman. Jesus drew a line and said, “If anyone hasn’t sinned, cast the first stone.” What does Jesus say to the woman in John 8:10-11 that shows how much God is for us?
John 8:10-11 (New Living Translation)

…“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Answer:

Put your foot on the neck of
your five senses:
What you smell
What you feel
What you see
What you hear
What you taste
So they won’t steal what God
has promised You!

3. Even before we were born, God had each and every one of us in mind—He calls us His masterpiece. That’s saying something. But in order to be God’s masterpiece, we had to be created anew. Ephesians 2:10 tells us how God made us His masterpiece and what He want to accomplish.
Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Answer:

4. What hope and assurance does Romans 8:31 give us that God always has “our back”?
Romans 8:31 (New Living Translation)
What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Have you been burned in a relationship, a business deal or at a church because some preacher was a hypocrite or somebody hurt you? Do you feel now that you judge everyone the same way? After reading Acts 13:22 and John 8:10-11, what is God asking you to do so that you can know that He is for you and wants to use you? What do you need to do so that you stop smelling like you’ve been burnt?

Describe the actions in your life that show that you have been made “anew” in Christ and that unequivocally affirm that you are undoubtedly God’s masterpiece. Explain how your actions are affecting others and building up the Church.

Describe a recent incident where you put your foot on the neck of one of your senses and realized that God could help you fight your battle.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you sharpen your senses—to be able to see, smell, feel, hear, and taste what He wants to accomplish in your life and to know that he is always there for you!

Our lack of strength comes
from our lack of certainty
that we serve a God who can
do anything. We become
stronger when we fully
understand how strong and
powerful God is.
Francis Chan

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.07.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.07.12.

 TUESDAY — Rest assured: God is in Control
Big Point: We are not in control of our lives and the world around us but we can rest in the knowledge that God is and He has a perfect plan for our lives.

        As human beings we like to think and believe that we are in control of everything that happens in our lives. Greg Surratt, in chapter 10 of “What is God Really Like?” perfectly illustrates how little control we have when he speaks about an incident that happened on British Airways flight 2069.
        On December 30, 2000, flight 2069 was bound for Nairobi, Kenya when an unstable passenger wrestled control of the airplane from the pilot and sent it plummeting, nose down toward the ocean. The downward force of the plane’s dive was so severe that it caused passengers to be knocked upward out of their seats, hitting their heads on the ceiling of the plane. One passenger described the plane’s rapid descent as a “wild roller coaster ride”. Fortunately, the pilot regained control of the plane and the passengers arrived safely to Nairobi.
        While most of us have never been on an airplane plummeting nose down toward the ocean, we can relate to circumstances that have felt like our lives were spinning out of our control. The fact is that we are not in control, God is in control. Not only is God in control of the world and everything in it, He is also in control of our lives. Nothing unexpected happens with God. Whatever the situation is that you are going through, God has chosen you to experience it, and He has a perfect plan for you to get through it. Therefore, we can walk in faith knowing that whatever happens in our lives God can and will use it for our good and His great pleasure.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. In the scripture below God talks about how Jesus Christ has brought us into the family of God through adoption. Adoption is a very special kind of love felt toward the child being adopted and according to Roman law an adoptee had full rights just like a biological child. After reading the scripture below describe the pleasure that God has toward us and why He is willing to adopt us.

 Ephesians 1:5 (New Living Translation)
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

Answer:

 

 

2. According to the scriptures below God is in control of our lives, determines the outcomes, and has a perfect plan for us. After reading and thinking about the scriptures below describe what God’s plan for your life may look like compared to your plans. Which one is preferable, yours or Gods?

Romans 8:28 (New Living Translation)
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.

Proverbs 16:33 (New Living Translation)
We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.

Answer:

 

 

 LIVE…What will you do now?
Look back over Ephesians 1:5. This scripture tells us that God’s love for us was so great that we have been adopted into His own family and therefore have been made heirs. How should your life reflect the relationship you have with God because of Christ? What changes do you need to make in order to become closer to your Father?

 

Would you describe yourself as a “control freak?” Describe the things that you like to control.

 

 

Today’s introductory reading tells about the incident on British flight 2069. It illustrates how the incident and outcome were beyond the passengers’ control. They had to put their trust and faith in the Captain’s ability to gain back control of the plane. Continuing to believe that God has a plan for us when our life appears out of control takes the same kind of faith. Describe your faith in God’s ability to take care of you in all situations. What can you do to strengthen your faith and keep going when hardships come?

 

 

Think about your previous “out-of-control” moments where you thought, “This is crazy, I can’t believe I am going through this.” Now, looking back, describe how you now can see God using it for His good in your life today.

 

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Go to a quiet place where you can be alone with God. Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for adopting you into His family and for having a perfect plan for your life. Ask Him to give you the strength and faith to trust Him when things in your life appear to be out of control.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.06.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.06.12.

        God…need we say more? Well, apparently we do because that name has been misinterpreted generation after generation and people tend not to know much about God. There are so many religions that use the term “God” to describe the god they worship. But then, if you look at the Christian faith alone, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia there are more than 33,830 denominations. Whew, talk about diversity! Unfortunately, that type of diversity can cause mass confusion and lead one to wonder, what should we believe? In fact, the word denomination is likely breaking God’s heart.

         Craig Groeschel, in his book, “What is God Really Like?,” broke down the term denomination. He explained that the Latin origin of “de-” means “apart,” while nominare means “to name.” Denomination literally means “to separate by naming.” As far as the Scriptures are concerned, only one name should matter: Jesus! That got Craig to thinking about the prayer Jesus prayed for his disciples… and for us in John 17:20-23. It reads “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one. Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me.” In response to reading that scripture and praying, Craig felt led to launch “One Prayer.com” in the spring of 2008 with a plea to churches to partner together, pray together, fast together, love together, all in an effort to be a part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer. In 2009, pastors from all around the world submitted messages describing different attributes of God found in the Bible: God is certain, incomparable, strong, in control, able, merciful, and that He wants to give His people a fresh start. Craig then compiled all of these messages into a book entitled “What is God Really Like?” Pastors such as Francis Chan, Andy Stanley, Perry Noble, Greg Surratt, Steven Furtick, John Burke, to name a few, describe in copious detail the omnipotent God that we should serve, every second of every day. We encourage you to pick up this book. We’ll reference the book in this study.

        All this month we will get to know who God is. The hope is that learning who God is—through what His scriptures have to teach us—will lead you to want to know God, and not be satisfied just to know about Him. Jesus Christ died for us and for the world. Jesus is the hope of the world, and we are his body, commissioned to bring that hope to others. Each of us is just one small part. So today and all this week, delve into this Bible study and invite someone to this series—likely the most important of all: God!

God is certain
God is incomparable
God is strong
(so why aren’t his children?)
God is in control
(but anything can happen)
God is able
(to overcome the strongholds)
God is for You and He is Faithful!

MONDAY — God is Incomparable
Big Point: In the beginning, God created us in His image, but we’ve been creating God in our image ever since. Our human minds cannot fully comprehend who God is. There is no comparison … even though we try.

        On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. It took forty-three seconds for that bomb to fall 31,000 feet. A barometric switch triggered the first subatomic reaction, and in a few millionths of a second, the heat at the core reached several million degrees Celsius. When the bomb exploded, four square miles of that city were devastated and 66,000 people lost their lives without even knowing what was coming. Buildings were leveled six miles away, glass was broken twelve miles away, and the glare from that blast was so powerful that it would have been visible from Jupiter, roughly 390 million miles away.
        Those statistics are staggering, but here is what is almost inconceivable: the energy produced by that bomb was the byproduct of a subatomic reaction that used only one percent of two pounds of uranium; one third of an ounce of uranium was sucked out of existence, and it translated into an explosion two thousand times more powerful than the most powerful bomb in the history of warfare. This technology owed a lot to Albert Einstein’s most recognizable equation, E =mc2 (energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared). This simply means that there is an awful lot of energy in a very small amount of matter. The amount of potential energy in every invisible atom is almost inconceivable.
        If the amount of energy in every subatomic particle is virtually inconceivable, then how can we even begin to comprehend the potential energy of an omnipotent Creator who created all matter? We can’t. 
                                  ~story adapted from What Is God Really Like? By Craig Groeschel

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. What do the following scriptures tell us about our comprehension of God?

Isaiah 40:25 (New Living Translation)
25 “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.

Exodus 3:14 (New Living Translation)
14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

Answer:

2. Paul combines two superlatives, “incomparable” and “great”, to attempt to describe God’s power. Knowing that God is beyond our comprehension, what words would you use to describe God?

 Ephesians 1:18-19a (New International Version)
18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Do you suffer from anthropomorphism? Sounds serious doesn’t it? That’s where we think about God in human terms—the attribution of human characteristics to God. So do you make God a supersized version of yourself by thinking that God’s power is slightly more powerful than the most powerful thing you can imagine? Take some time to really think about your view of God and write out your thoughts.

 

 

 

Every problem we experience is a byproduct of our small view of God. Once you understand God’s incomparable nature, your problems lose their dominan over you. How does your view of God hold you back? What can you do to change your outlook on problems you are facing right now?

 

 

 

We can accept a life that is just a little better than it could be rather than expecting the riches of His glorious inheritance that Paul prayed for. Has your view of God prevented you from a more abundant life? How have you been settling for “just a little better” lately? Think big and describe how God, who is beyond our comprehension, has lavished you with His blessings.

 

 

It is difficult to grasp how big and inconceivable God really is. Does this change your expectations from Him? How will you pray differently?

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Take the time right now to worship God and praise Him for how incomparably great His power is to our human standards. Pray that He makes you uncomfortable for settling for life that is “just a little better.”

 

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.