Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.22.12

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WEDNESDAY — God Gives Blessings in Disguise
Big Point: If you call yourself a Christ-follower, always seek to find the blessing in disguise when tragedy strikes.

        There is nothing that brings more joy to people than the birth of a child. There is so much anticipation for that very special day—after all, you’ve got some time to think about things, all of nine months. No one knows that better than the mother. For most expectant parents, when the bundle of joy is due to arrive, there are so many emotions and it’s as if you can almost hear a song playing in the background that hits a peaceful note once the baby is delivered safely to the parents’ arms.
        Denise West knows that feeling all too well. You probably heard Denise’s testimony during Kyle’s weekend message about the delivery of her beautiful daughter Sophia. The song that played in Denise’s story had a dramatic twist when Sophia was diagnosed with a terminal disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA Type 1). Knowing that Sophia would not be around as a toddler, or to start school literally crushed Denise. Like any parent, Denise wanted to watch her daughter grow to a young lady and experience life to the fullest. But after much prayer and seeking God above all else, Denise has found so many blessings in life after bringing Sophia into this world. It’s likely the song that played in Denise’s story was Laura Story’s song, “Blessings”. Denise likely shed many tears and had quite a few sleepless nights. But through those times, she realized that God is faithful and He was near, that He never left her. Ultimately, Denise realized that Sophia became one of the many blessings in disguise.
        All too often, our most immediate reaction and thought process surrounding tragedy and devastation is that we are not blessed. What we don’t realize is God uses that same tragedy and devastation to ultimately bless us and that He remains faithful to us. Our job is to see the blessing(s) in disguise.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
In order to recognize the blessings in disguise, we must first understand God’s faithfulness. What does Romans 3:3-5 tell us about how faithful God is.

Romans 3:3-5 (New Living Translation)
3 True, some of them were unfaithful; but just because they were unfaithful, does that mean God will be unfaithful? 4 Of course not! Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true. As the Scriptures say about him, “You will be proved right in what you say, and you will win your case in court.” 5 “But,” some might say, “our sinfulness serves a good purpose, for it helps people see how righteous God is. Isn’t it unfair, then, for him to punish us?” (This is merely a human point of view.)



God certainly challenges us to find blessings when trouble comes our way. What does James 1:2-4 challenge us to do (which is another way to find blessings in disguise)?

James 1:2-4 (New Living Translation)
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.



LIVE…What will you do now?
Let’s say that two Christ followers were involved in a tragedy. One survived and the other was killed. Have you ever found yourself saying (or thinking) that the person who survived “was blessed?” Did you ever think when you said that, maybe, the other person wasn’t so blessed? After reading the above scriptures, would you say anything different as it relates to who was or was not blessed in this tragedy?



If you had to write a two paragraph essay about what a blessed life looks like, how would you write it? What illustration would you use? Take a moment to write out what a blessed life looks like. We’d love to read your story. Send it to us and we just may feature it in a future Living It Out Bible study subscription. Email



Have you ever questioned God’s faithfulness? Describe a time when you felt that God was not for you and how you reacted in that situation.



Let’s make this personal. What if your blessing comes through rain drops, what if your healing comes through tears, what if a thousand sleepless nights is what it takes to know God is near, what will you do and how will you respond?



Take a moment to write out some of your “blessings in disguise”. After writing out your blessings take some time to share these blessings with your family. Maybe organize a “blessings in disguise” dinner this Sunday.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you count it all joy when trouble comes and to live your life recognizing the many blessings in disguise—even in the most tragic circumstances.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.21.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.21.12.

TUESDAY — God Gives us Creation as a Blessing
Big Point: Everything you see in nature is a gift from God that proclaims the truth of who He is.

        Take a moment and look out the window if you can. Ignore the buildings, cars, poles and anything else man-made. Just take a few moments and look at the natural world. Try to focus on something specific—a cloud, a tree or the ground. What do you see? Are you amazed by it or unimpressed?
        Today we are going to look at Psalm 19:1-2. The first part of that verse says that the “heavens proclaim the glory of God.” Everything you see in creation— trees, grass, flowers, snow, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc—they all testify to God’s power. This means that when you aren’t sure about whether or not God’s got His eye on the ball, you can look at the world around you for the answer—YES!
        In his book, More than Meets the Eye, author, physician and futurist Dr. Richard Swenson examines creation and how the world around us testifies to the greatness and preciseness of a holy God. He uses elements of nature and our universe to demonstrate that a God who is precise in how He created the world is more than capable of being able to control the circumstances of our lives.

Do you ever think of God as “precise?” Here are some striking facts about our world:

• Every second, four million tons of the sun is being converted from mass to energy. We only receive 1/1,000,000,000 of that energy—and yet, that is how we live. It is exactly the amount that we need. Any closer to the sun, we would be baked. Any farther from the sun and we would be in an ice age.
• Every cell in our body has a trillion atoms. We have between 10-100 trillion atoms in the human body and we make over a trillion cells every day. Who created our body to continuously replenish itself with just the right amount of cells going to the right places each day? God.

READ & THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
Think about this—God didn’t have to create the world with intricate flowers, strange and unique looking fish, majestic mountain tops or even clear blue water. God could have just created a bland, colorless, yet functional world—but He didn’t. Read Psalm 19:1-2. What does the world around us tell us about God’s character?

Psalm 19:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1 The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. 2 Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. Answer:


Focus in on Psalm 19:2. How does our natural world speak to us each day about God’s glory?



LIVE…What will you do now?
Have you ever taken a picture of a beautiful sunrise or sunset? Perhaps you enjoy watching lightning storms or hearing the roll of thunder. What is your favorite thing in nature? Why?


Why do you think God made thousands of different species of birds, fish, trees, and flowers with so many different colors? If you have children, discuss this with them and see what they say.


Where is the most spectacular natural setting you’ve visited or seen in a photo? How did you feel as you looked at it? Did you have any heightened sense of God? Describe your experiences.

Have you ever thought about why God created different seasons in some areas of the world, but allows other areas to be constantly warm or constantly cold? How can the fact that God can manage all of these constant variables and keep them under His control give you encouragement in your life today?


Reflect on this…
God gives us the natural world as an encouraging reminder of His character. The band, Gungor, released the song, “Beautiful Things” and it’s about how God constantly renews the earth—and us. In what are of your life do you need to trust to God for “renewal?”


PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
As you are going through your day, take some time to focus on the world around you. Pay attention to everything that God created and allow those things to enlarge your view of God. Ask God to remind you of His sovereignty and power whenever you gaze upon trees or are sitting on a beach (lucky!).


Reminder: You’ll find the Daily Bible Reading commentary for Exodus 19-24 at and click on the commentary links.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 02.20.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.20.12.

“What if Your blessings come
through raindrops?
What if your healing comes
through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless
nights are what it takes to
know you’re near?
What if the trials of this life
are your mercies in disguise?”

The 2012 Grammy Awards show was a couple of weeks ago. We remember how this year’s broadcast was overshadowed by the death of superstar Whitney Houston. Throughout the evening, music’s biggest stars offered tributes to Houston’s memory and celebrated the victories of today’s big stars like Adele and the Foo Fighters. Yet, there was a “Story” in the crowd that few people knew about.

A songwriter named Laura Story won the 2012 Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song. You might not recognize Laura’s name, but you’ve heard of her work. Laura was the song writer behind the Chris Tomlin song, “Indescribable;” a song you’ve heard at CedarCreek during this “God” series. This year, Laura won the Grammy Award for her song, “Blessings.” If you listen to KLOVE or any other Christian station, you’ve heard this song, or perhaps you’ve heard it sung here at the ‘Creek. In this song, Laura asks God some provocative questions, mainly because of the journey she has taken.

Laura married Martin, her high school sweetheart. In 2006, Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumor while they were still newlyweds. Faced with a terrifying situation, Laura fought fear and loneliness as she sat in a hospital room watching machines keep her husband alive. Years later, Martin is doing better, but has not been completely healed, and Laura admits that it is hard to see how God is all-powerful and all-loving in a situation where hardship is a fact of life. But, Laura also realizes the “blessing in disguise” that has come as a result. With the success of her album, “Blessings,” Laura is traveling around the United States, Europe and South America and says she has a voice that she didn’t have before—but that doesn’t mean that it’s been easy for her. “It hasn’t been easy,” shares Laura. “Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped (Christ) follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it. This is a good place to be.”

During this weekend’s service, you watched the video of a mother of a oneyear- old recount the blessings of her child’s life—a life that will likely end in the near future. How could she possibly see the blessings in such a heart-wrenching situation? Yet, she does see the blessings. Many of you have told us about how God has blessed your life even though your heart was broken or you lost something precious. Could it be that what we think of as “bad,” God knows is for our ultimate “good?” So, could your unemployment be a gift? Yes, it could. Could choosing to struggle through overcoming an addiction be a gift? Yes, it could. Could an illness be a gift? Yes, it could. This week is a great opportunity for each of us to reconsider what God gives to each one of us every day.

Monday – God Gave Us Christ
Big Point: God didn’t have to give us ANYTHING, but God gave us EVERYTHING when He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

        Valentine’s Day was last week. It’s a holiday that encourages us to express our love for those who are special to us. Of course, we all know that expressing our love toward others should not be limited to a twenty-four hour period and an overpriced Hallmark card. Love is a tremendous gift that cannot—should not—be contained. It must overflow! As they say, “Love is the gift that keeps on giving!”
        God is the Creator of love and the Bible tells us that God IS love. Of course, the Bible tells us over and over again that God loves us. Unfortunately, most of us don’t really grasp what it means for God to love us. It’s shameful for us to admit, that too often, God’s love for us isn’t enough. We say, “Yes, God loves me—but what about my health? What’s God going to do about my health?” Others say, “Yes, God loves me, but what about my house payment? Why doesn’t God send me the money I need for that?”
        Ann Voscamp is the author of the best-selling book, One Thousand Gifts, and she writes about how we underestimate the greatest gift God has given to us: “He gave us Jesus! Jesus! Gave him up for us all. If we have only one memory, isn’t this one enough? Why is this the memory I most often take for granted? He cut open the flesh of the God-Man and let the blood flow. He washed our grime with the bloody grace. He drove the iron ore through His own vein. Doesn’t that memory alone suffice? Need there be anything more? If God didn’t withhold from us His very own Son, will God withhold anything we need?”

READ & THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
We’ve focused on Romans 8:28 for a few weeks, but there are some other verses that also give us great encouragement because they expand upon the lavishness of God’s great love for us. Read Romans 8:31-32 and reflect on the question that the Apostle Paul asks us. If God was willing to give up His Son for you, then what does that say about how God will handle the other details of your life?

Romans 8:31-32 (New Living Translation)
31 …If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?




John 3:16 is another verse we’ve been focusing on lately. This verse captures the essence of God’s greatest gift to humanity. Take a moment and attempt to describe the kind of love that God must have for us to give us salvation through Christ.

John 3:16 (New Living Translation)
16 “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.”



Gifts are something that are given without the expectation of payment in return. Why did God give us salvation? Even though it cost Christ his life, God didn’t pass along the cost to us. Why not?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (New Living Translation)
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.




LIVE…What will you do now?
How has God’s gift of grace—given through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ—enriched and/or blessed your life?


For some of you, that last question might have been difficult to answer. You feel pressured by some tough circumstances in your life and so it is tough to really connect with the magnitude of God’s gift of salvation. List some of the circumstances that are getting in the way of being truly grateful for your salvation:



Now, re-read Romans 8:31-32 and fill in the space provided on the following: “If God loves me enough to send Christ to die for my sins, then I can trust that God will _______________________________________ in my current circumstance.”

No one likes being taken for granted—even God. Can you relate to Ann Voscamp’s words when she talks about God’s free gift of salvation: “Why is this the memory I most often take for granted?” If we are so grateful for God’s free gift of grace, then why don’t our lives reflect more gratitude? How can your life reflect more gratitude for God’s most precious gift to you?



PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
We hope that by the end of today’s lesson you were filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude for what God sent Jesus to earth to do on your behalf. We have all taken our salvation for granted—every one of us. But, today we get the chance to individually thank God for the free gift of salvation and reflect upon God’s greatest gift of all. Take time today to talk with God about how your salvation has changed your life, and most of all, thank Him for giving you such a great gift!


Reminder: You’ll Find the Daily Bible Reading commentary for the Daily Bible Reading Plan by going to 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 02.17.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.17.12.


FRIDAY—Heaven=Community & Hell=Loneliness
Big Point: In Heaven, we will live with Jesus and fellow believers forever. God calls us to share this message of eternal salvation.

        Have you ever had a day when you were hanging out with friends and family and you looked at the clock and wondered, “Where did the time go?” It seemed as time just flew by. You’ve probably said, “Time flies when you are having fun;” and that’s typically when you are hanging out with others that you enjoy being with.
        The opposite happens when you are by yourself. If you’ve ever worked retail and it’s been a slow day, boy, you sure can relate to the feeling of time just standing still. You become bored to tears with no customers, you feel lonely and the day just drags on and on and you just feel like you are going to go crazy. In fact, it’s been proven that prisoners exposed to solitary confinement tend to have difficulty dealing with life and tend to literally be crazy. That’s just what loneliness does.
        But even with the above examples, we truly have not described the deep sense of joy and contentment you will experience being in community and fellowship with those that love Christ in Heaven. And even still, we truly can’t describe the deep sense of loneliness those will feel in Hell.
        This week was likely challenging— we asked some really hard questions and examined a lot of scripture we often try to avoid. Our prayer is that you have grown to know better the “just” God that we serve. While we know He judges us, we pray that you have a greater sense of peace about your eternal destination.

READ and THINK…Find Answers in the Bible
1. Even though this week’s message can be a very difficult topic, Jesus tells us in John 14:1-3 not to let our hearts be troubled. How can we find comfort in our eternal destination? How does Jesus describe heaven? Why does Jesus go there before us and why does he come back?

John 14:1-3 (New International Version)
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.




2. Read 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 for a contrast to the verses you just read. How does Jesus appear in these verses? Who does Jesus punish and how are they punished?

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 (New International Version)
This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might




LIVE…What will you do now?
In Randy Alcorn’s book, he says that when churches do not talk openly and honestly about God’s judgment and its eternal consequences, “We rob God’s people of an eternal perspective.” Do you agree with this statement? How would you define “an eternal perspective”?



Write the names of any people who have come to mind this week as you have worked through this Bible study. What is your prayer for them? What can you do to show them God’s love this weekend?



PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Thank God for the gift of His son and our salvation which comes from His blood. Thank Him for preparing a place for us, a place to dwell with Him forever. Ask Him to really help you accept the reality of His judgment and your eternal destination.



Weekend Updates!
• 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 at 10:45 am, Saturday Feb 18 and 25th at 5:15pm, and Sunday Feb 26 at 4pm at the West Toledo Campus ONLY. Then at ALL campuses on Sunday, Feb 19 at 10:45am.

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

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

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

*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, where you can subscribe
to have any or all of them emailed to you as they are updated.

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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.

“If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil”
By Randy Alcorn


This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Alyssa Baker
Cynthia Savage
JoAnna Studer
Emily Francis
Ryan Wilson

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.”




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.




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

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 02.15.12.

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.




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 …




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.




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, 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 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
• 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.”


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.


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.


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 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.