Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.15.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.15.11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out
It is the dream of CedarCreek that everyone who calls this their church home will be reading and studying the same topics, both individually and in groups. Each week, join with thousands of others at CedarCreek Church in applying God’s Word, the Bible, into your daily life. Our hope is that while we learn and grow together, as individuals and as a church, we will collectively live out the weekend message.
Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses, are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.
Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message
Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the New Testament in a year
Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others
Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.14.11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.13.11

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

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

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

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

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

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. Matthew 4:8-10 (NLT) 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.12.11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.11.11

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Series: Vintage Faith
This Week: Solomon—Wind Chaser

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.8.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.8.11.

FRIDAY— Weekly Wrap Up
Big Point: Bill Hybels gives us five filters to evaluate if a prompting is from God.

From Bill Hybels: “Over the years I have complied a short list of filters that help me test every whisper I receive. No matter how confusing, challenging or unsettling a prompting may be, if it passes the following five filters, I attempt to obey it every time. Similarly, if a whisper doesn’t stand up under the scrutiny of these five filters, I am reticent to accept it as being from God without further careful examination.”

FILTER #1: Is the Prompting Truly from God?
Whenever you receive a prompting—whether from God directly or through the lips of another—take whatever time is necessary to ask, “God, is this message from you? Is it consistent with your character? Is it aligned with your attributes?” Before taking a single step to obey the whisper you’ve received, be sure you get the all-clear that the voice you have heard could be from God.

FILTER #2: Is it Scriptural?
Scripture is replete with examples of how God would behave in any given life situation, and the Example’s name is Jesus Christ. Whenever I sense a prompting from God, I ask myself if I could imagine Jesus doing whatever action the prompting is suggesting I do. If I can’t envision Jesus following suit, I fear my wires somehow must have gotten crossed. Messages that contradict Scripture are not from God.

FILTER #3: Is it Wise?
God’s whispers rarely go against wisdom and common sense. The entire book of Proverbs is devoted to dissecting wisdom and all her attributers. Scripture is relentless in exhorting us to be wise in all our dealings, to be wise in all our ways.
God’s direction rarely violates the wisdom test. Be sure you’re not sidestepping what is wise in favor of acting quickly on whispers. If God is indeed in the plan, it will likely not involve blatantly unwise action.

FILTER #4: Is It in Tune with Your Own Character?
I caution people against running headlong into a field that is totally foreign to their wiring patterns, their education, their expertise and their experience in life thus far. It’s not that God can’t endorse a dramatic 180-degree turn. It’s just that typically when he does so, it gets affirmed through a series of whispers, from several sources, in a variety of different ways.

FILTER #5: What Do the People You Most Trust Think about It?
Whenever you sense that God is speaking to you, find two or three veteran Christ-followers—preferably people who know you well and who are further down the spiritual path than you are—and take some time to describe the situation to them in detail. Humbly ask them, “Do you think God really did speak to me? Is this the voice of God I’m hearing, or in your estimation did I get my wires crossed?” Then, listen openly and intently to the answers you receive, because they might just save your hide.

Subject every prompting to the godly counsel test. It will save you from boatloads of heartache and just might affirm God’s best will for your life.

Weekend Reminders!
~ Registration Deadline July 12th! The early bird rate for Leadership Summit tickets expires on July 12th. If you haven’t purchased your ticket, now’s the time to go to www.cedarcreek.tv/summit.
~ Are you a writer? Do you enjoy reading the Living It Out? If so, we’d like to hear from you! We are looking for new writers to join our team. Find out more information and complete the training online! Contact barbr@cedarcreek.tv for more information.

HomePointe Family Activity
Big Point for Families: God’s got this!
Lesson: If you really trust that God loves you? Do you really trust that He is powerful? Do you trust that He will provide for all of your needs? If you really do then you should stop freaking out. When you put all of your faith and trust in God, act according to what scripture tells you is wise and remain obedient, you are going to get where God wants you to go and He will provide for you every step of the way.
Activity: Ask your family the following questions:
~ Where do you go to find wisdom when you need to know what to do?
~ What do you think it means to obey God?
~ Whom do you look to as an authority figure in their life?
~ Do you trust that God will provide for you wherever you go?
These four questions will help you determine if you are truly seeking God’s will the way He requires. Want to be wise? Want to be obedient to God? Read the scriptures to discover what He requires. Want to place God as the authority in your life? Submit yourself to His will daily.
Pray: Thank God for providing for all that we need.

Living It Out: **NEW** July 2011
Colossians 4:5-6 (New Living Translation)
5 Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

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

Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses, are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.
Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message
Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the New Testament in a year
Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others
Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

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

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

RESOURCES:
Daily Bible Commentary compiled by Barb Roose
HomePointe Family Activity written by Chantele Henry

This week’s Living It Out: Daily Bible Study written by:
Tammy Kaiser
Kaye Althaus
Rick Kinney
Emily Lee
Barb Roose

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Proverbs 23-24
23:4—God isn’t against wealthy people. It is wise, however, to consider when your efforts to generate income begin to conflict with your relationships, health or spiritual well-being.
23:6-8—How do you know when you are hoarding? Answer: When you cannot be generous toward others because you are worried about providing for yourself.
23:17-18—“Don’t envy sinners” One of the most difficult transitions for new Christians is the sense that they are missing out on “fun” when they accept Christ. Think about what you are really missing. How does it compare with what Jesus promises to do in your life?
24:6—It is wise to ask for advice from those who are more knowledgeable than you. Their opinion shouldn’t be your only source of information, but their wisdom can illuminate your situation.
24:8—“a person who plans evil” Unchecked, wrong desires can lead to sin.
24:10—When we fail to live out our faith under pressure, we can either respond by getting discouraged or we can learn from our mistakes and grow from them.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.7.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.7.11.

THURSDAY— Clearing cloggy pipes
Big Point: Sin and disobedience will diminish our ability to hear from God…that’s not a good thing.

One of the most striking elements of 1 Samuel 3 is found in the opening sentence: “Now in those days, messages from the LORD were rare and visions were uncommon.” Eli and his sons were serving as priests in the temple, yet their family history of disobedience had led to decreased messages from God.
If you are reading this LIO Bible study, we are going to assume that you have an interest in living a life that pleases God. However, we know for a fact that none of us is perfect. The problem comes when we have areas of our lives that we know are falling short of God’s holy standard, yet we let those sinful behaviors or patterns of disobedience continue unchallenged.
How does disobedience diminish our capacity to hear from God? When we sin, it’s like we put up a wall that keeps God’s influence out of our life. Galatians 5:19-21 tells us that when we are disobedient, the fruits of that disobedience will carry us far away from what God desires for our lives. It’s not God that abandons us; in fact, we separate ourselves from God when we sin.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Luke 6:46-47 (New Living Translation)
46 “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? 47 I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. 4

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 8 Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

1 John 2:15 (New Living Translation)
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

THINK…Find the answers
Luke 6:20-49 has been referred to as Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (an apparent parallel to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount—Matthew 5-7). In Luke 6:46-47, Jesus is referring to those who profess themselves to be Christians, but what is it that they are failing to do?

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8. The Apostle Paul instructs believers to live in a manner that pleases God—particularly when it comes to remaining sexually pure. In today’s culture, there is a lot of conversation about morality and sex. What does Paul say about those who refuse to listen to God’s teaching about sexual morality?

Sometimes we get consumed by all of the noise in our culture—often that noise distracts us, causing us to turn away from listening for God’s voice. Read 1 John 2:15. What does it mean to “love the things of this world”? How does loving the things we see around us distract us or prevent us from hearing God’s voice?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Are there any sins or patterns of disobedience in your life that you suspect are keeping you from hearing God’s voice? How is your spiritual life being hampered as a result?

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
It’s time to address the things that you wrote in response to the question above. If you are ready, begin praying. Confess your sin and disobedience to God, asking Him for forgiveness and restoration.

Improve your listening skills:
Connect with God through prayer and reading scripture. Psalm 1-4
Be immediately obedient once you confirm God’s leading—don’t delay! Romans 8:7-8
Do not doubt God’s power or provision. He will provide for you! James 1:6
Believe in God’s love so that you are free to live out His will for your life!

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Proverbs 22
22:2—At the end of our lives, it doesn’t matter how much money we did or did not have—we will all answer to a Holy God and be held to the same standard.
22:3—This is one of the most often quoted verses in the Bible. A parent’s role is to teach children HOW to make decisions, not to make all of the decisions for them. When parents teach children how to make decisions, then parents do not have to always watch every decision their child makes and the parents can rest knowing that they have honored God by teaching their children the right priorities. Whether or not the adult child abides by those priorities is not the parents’ responsibility.
22:7—Here is another popular verse. Question: Is it a sin to borrow money? No, but we must be careful to avoid taking on loans that we might not be able to repay. At some point, no matter our income level, too much debt is just too much.
22:13—Lazy individuals who do not like to work or struggle to keep a job always seem to have strange or lame excuses for not staying employed.
22:17-28—This is a collection of good advice that we can still apply to our lives today.
22:24-25— “Don’t befriend angry people” Another verse (1 Corinthians 15:33) also tells us to remember that “bad company corrupts good character.”
22:26-27—This verse creates a lot of tension, but the writer’s advice is true! Have you ever had to pay for a car that someone else bought but you co-signed for in order to help him or her get the car? If you can afford to co-sign, then make sure the person you are co-signing for is worth the risk. However, you can’t afford to co-sign for another’s debt, you are actually putting your household at risk. That’s not wise.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.6.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.6.11.

WEDNESDAY— How can we hear God speaking?
Big Point: People have a tendency to listen only to what they want to hear.

Soccer star Keith Downing shared the following story about his Uncle Dick… Apparently Uncle Dick noticed that every time he ate pork chitlins (his favorite food), his foot pained him immensely that evening. His family physician confirmed his suspicion of pork-induced gout. When Uncle Dick returned home from the doctor’s office, his wife asked him how the appointment had gone. Uncle Dick plopped off his shoes and replied, “The doctor said I’m going to have gout about three times a week.” The lesson: people have a tendency to listen only to what they want to hear. -from www.sermoncentral.com, “Hearing God When He Speaks”

Yesterday we looked at God speaking through His Word, Wisdom, and Authority. Today, we will see how God speaks through Personal Experience, the Holy Spirit, and Godly Counsel.

READ…What does the Bible say?
1 Samuel 3:3-4, 9-10 (New Living Translation)
3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. 4 Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,’” So Samuel went back to bed. 10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

James 4:8 (New Living Translation)
8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

THINK…Find the answers
Read 1 Samuel 3:3-4. Where was Samuel when he heard God speaking to him? How did his location help Samuel hear God?

In 1 Samuel 3:9-10, Eli gave the confused Samuel advice on what to do when he heard God’s voice again: in order to hear God, he must give God permission to speak. How did this help Samuel hear God?

According to James 4:8, what hinders our ability to hear God?

LIVE…What will you do now?
There are lots of passages in the Bible where God admonishes his people to listen to him. Why is it so important to God that we listen to Him? God wants us to hear his voice—it’s the only way we’ll receive all the blessings He wants to give us.

Describe some experiences in your life when you have been blessed as a result of listening to God’s leadings.

When it comes to hearing God, proximity is important. We can’t expect to hear from God if we don’t remain close to Him. That’s why things like attending church and doing life with other Christians in a Life Group are important. List two or three Christ-followers you can turn to for godly counsel.

We have looked at six ways that God speaks into our lives. Why it is important for us to consider all of the ways when contemplating a decision versus just relying on one or two areas of input?

PRAY… What do you want me to know and do?
Today, thank God for His grace in wanting to bless you. Ask Him to help you slow down and remain close to Him so you can listen and be guided by Him in your life.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Proverbs 20-21
20:1—In Galatians 5, the Apostle Paul instructs believers to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we overindulge in alcohol, we are unable to live by the Spirit because we are under the influence of alcohol. Drinking alcohol is a liberty. However, every believer must determine whether or not to indulge in this liberty.
20:2—This verse is a parallel to Proverbs 19:12. Both verses discuss what happens to subjects who do not live in obedience to the king’s rules.
20:6—This verse is a parallel to Proverbs 18:24.
20:12—Hearing God speak into our lives is a blessing.
20:13—”If you love sleep” doesn’t mean that it is wrong to get enough rest; rather it describes a person who is lazy and doesn’t get up and work.
20:15—”wise words” This theme is repeated numerous times in Proverbs.
20:22—Are you secretly hoping that someone will “get theirs” for wronging you? There are numerous verses in both the Old and New Testament that remind us that God will deal with those who treat us unjustly.
20:24—We are often confused by the events around us. Some things we will never understand until later when we look back and see how God was working. This proverb counsels us not to worry if we don’t understand everything as it happens.
21:2—This verse should remind you of Psalm 139:23—Ben talked about this verse in his message on Samuel.
21:6—Perhaps someone should have mentioned this verse to Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff…
21:12—God knows what’s happening behind closed doors even though your manicured front lawn and shiny cars fool your neighbors and friends.
21:13—This verse reflects Jesus’ illustration in Matthew 25:35-45.
21:20—Saving for the future isn’t unbiblical—in fact, God admonishes us to prepare for future financial obligations so that we won’t end up incurring unnecessary debt. Those who are unable to control their spending will end up broke.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 7.5.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 7.5.11.

TUESDAY: How does God speak?
Big Point: Listening to hear God speak is key in living a fulfilling Christian life.

In his recent book, The Power of a Whisper, Bill Hybels casts a vision for what life on earth can look like when God’s followers turn an ear toward heaven— discerning whispers that arbitrate key decisions, nudges that rescue from dark nights of the soul, promptings that spur growth, urgings from the lips of another person and inspiration that opens glazed-over eyes to the plight of injustice and poverty in our world.

Hybels incites passion in Christ-followers’ hearts for being wide open to the power of a whisper from God, offers practical filters for discerning whether the whisper you heard is from heaven and issues the challenge to get gutsier about actually doing what God is prompting you to do.

There are six ways God speaks to us. Today we will look at three of those ways: God’s Word, wisdom and authority. Tomorrow, we will look at the remaining three vehicles God uses to speak to us.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Psalm 119:105 (New International Version)
105Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.

James 1:5 (New Living Translation)
5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

Romans 13:1 (New Living Translation)
1Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.

THINK…Find the answers
God’s Word to us is the Bible, a complete set of instructions directly from God. What does Psalm 119:105 mean by “lamp for my feet”? How about “a light for my path”?

According to James 1:5, where should we start our quest for wisdom? Will we be penalized for asking for wisdom?

Read Romans 13:1. Why does God care whether we listen to those in authority? How does God speak to us through authority figures?

To read more about discerning whether a whisper is truly from God, turn to the Weekly Wrap-Up on Friday for a list of Bill Hybels’ Five Filters to Test a Whisper.

LIVE…What will you do now?
There are many different ways to hear God speaking to us. What are some ways that you have experienced God speaking into your life? How did you know God was speaking?

Today, we examined three ways that God speaks to us. Do you need to improve in any of those areas?

One of the ways that CedarCreek helps Christ-followers learn to hear from God is to encouraging the memorization of scripture each month. Turn to the last page of this study and write out the new July Memory Verse below:

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
One of the most assuring things in the Christian life is the sense that God is speaking to us. Today you have the opportunity to reflect on the times in life when you were certain God was speaking into your life. If it’s been a long time since God has spoken into your life ask God to reveal the reasons why He seems to be silent.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Proverbs 19
19:2—How often do we over-rationalize the reasons to do something we really, really want to do? This verse warns us to not rush important decisions that require careful evaluation as to whether or not God is leading us in a particular direction.
19:4—Did you know that the average lottery winner is broke within five years of winning? Former winners reported that they couldn’t say “no” to their sudden “new” friends or long-lost family members asking for money.
19:8—This verse doesn’t condone selfish or self-centered behavior. However, we are instructed to love and care for ourselves in a manner that honors the God that created us. This includes caring for ourselves spiritually and physically.
19:13—Unfortunately, many of us experience the tragedy of this verse first hand.
19:18—Parents are admonished to take great care in training their young children while those children are still moldable. Lenient parents do not realize that untrained children will not only be a burden to the parents, but society as well.
19:21—During this weekend’s message, we discussed a question Christians like to ask: “What is God’s will for my life?” What have you learned about God’s will and what He desires for your life? Are you willing to conform your desires to God’s purposes?