Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.29.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.29.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Total Surrender

THURSDAY — I Surrender my relationships
Big Point: Surrendering your own interest for the interests of others and adopting an attitude of humility allows us to love others as Christ requires.

      Have you ever seen the popular show, “What Would You Do” by John Quninones? The show sets up everyday scenarios that depict how people react, why they react, and when they decide to act in an array of situations-primarily when given a chance to help someone in need or when injustice arises. Actors and props are used as well as hidden cameras to show how this plays out in everyday life. It’s startling to watch at times when innocent people are being harmed and very few people jump to their rescue. When interviewed, some people say they just don’t want to get involved for fear they may be harmed themselves or others will say they just don’t want to take the time, they are busy or they were minding their own business and did not take interest in the matter.
      What if there was a hidden camera in your own home or your neighborhood? Would you be ashamed and embarrassed if you were caught on film reacting in a negative way towards someone? Or, refusing to assist someone in need because you were too busy? We are supposed to love each other. In Christianity, when we speak of love, we speak of the type of love that would cause an individual to lay down his or her life for his or her friend’s life – we are talking about the kind of love that knows no limits and no conditions that allows us to love our enemies. We are talking about loving with the same type of love which God has demonstrated toward us. We are talking about unmerited love!

READ…What does the Bible say?
Philippians 2:3-4 (New Living Translation)
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Luke 10:27 (New Living Translation)
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 6:27 (New Living Translation) 27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you.

THINK…Find the answers
According to Luke 6:27, who are you supposed to love? What should we do to those that hate us?

Philippians 2:3-4 says we are not supposed to do things for our own interest. What does it ask us to do instead?

According to Luke 10:27, to what extent does God tell us to love him?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Let’s unpack this a bit more. Have you ever had instances where your neighbors just get on your nerves… you ask them to turn down the music and they won’t, or the dreaded non-acknowledgement when you wave to them or they rush to close the garage door before anyone is able to say “hello”? What happens when a loved one hurts you; how do you react? Can you relate to any of these scenarios? If there was a hidden camera in your house or in your neighborhood, would you like what you would see? Explain:

Describe how loving the Lord with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind can help you love others, including your neighbors, and to surrender your desire to “always be right” in a relationship:

Think of someone that you just can’t stand. In fact, thinking of them could actually make you nauseated. What can you do today to begin to make amends or forgive that person?

Only those who have learned the power of sincere and selfless contribution experience life’s deepest joy: true fulfillment.
Tony Robbins

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to teach you ways to regard others above yourself and to give you the strength to love your enemies and do good by them.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 31-36
31 Set in 587 B.C. Ezekiel compared Egypt to Assyria as a great cedar tree. Egyptians looked at the fall of the mighty nation of Assyria as an example of what would happen to them. Egypt took pride in its strength and beauty; this would be its downfall.
32 Prophecy given in 585 B.C., after the news of Jerusalem’s fall had reached the exiles in Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied numerous judgments upon many wicked nations showing that evil forces are continually being overcome and that one day God will overthrow all evil, making the world the perfect place He intended.
33 Sets forth new direction for Ezekiel’s prophecies. Judgment on Jerusalem and the surrounding evil nations for their sins. Messages of hope, comfort and future restoration for God’s people were given. God blesses those who are faithful to Him.
34 Refers to all Jews in captivity from the northern and southern kingdoms. Israel’s leaders were criticized for taking care of themselves rather than taking care of their people and their judgment was pronounced. A good shepherd (the Messiah) would come who would take care of the people as the other leaders were supposed to do.
35 Prophecy against Edom, probably using Edom to represent all the nations opposed to God’s people. Edom offered to help destroy Jerusalem, rejoiced when the city fell, and its hostility against God’s people resulted in God’s judgment.
36 Prophecy that Israel would be restored as a nation and would return to its own land. Mountains were symbolic of Israel’s strength. This message again emphasized God’s sovereignty and trustworthiness.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.28.11

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Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Total Surrender

WEDNESDAY — I surrender my resources
Big Point: Surrendering your resources may seem difficult, but it is very rewarding.

      Imagine your whole life dreaming of being a billionaire and then one day deciding to give it all up. That’s just what Millard Fuller did, as Kyle Idelman explains in his book, Not a Fan. Millard became a millionaire by the age of 29. “He had, as he says, bought his wife everything she could possibly want.” But one day Millard came home to a note that announced that his wife had left him. Millard sought after his wife and found her in a hotel. She began to pour her heart out to him so that he could see that she was empty and dead inside and her spirit was burned out. All the “things” society says that are supposed to make one happy and satisfied had left her feeling cold and dead, and she wanted to live again.
     That night, Fuller and his wife recommitted their lives to one another and to Christ. They made the commitment to surrender everything to Jesus and sell everything they had. Millard says, “We weren’t giving up money and all the things that money could buy. We were giving up period.” As a result of their complete surrender, an organization was born that you are probably familiar with – “Habitat For Humanity.”

“We weren’t giving up money and all the things that money could buy. We were giving up period.” Millard Fuller

READ…What does the Bible say?
Proverbs 3:5-10 (New Living Translation)
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.7Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil… 9Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Matthew 25:19 (New Living Translation)
After a long time their master returned from his trip and called them to give an account of how they had used his money.

THINK…Find the answers
What does Proverbs 3:5 ask us to do in order for God to direct our path?

Most Christians memorize Proverbs 3:5 but fail to commit verses 6-10 to memory. What does Proverbs 3:7 tell us not to be impressed with? What will happen when we honor the Lord with our wealth? What does “good wine” mean?

According to Matthew 25:19, is Christ concerned with how we use our money?

LIVE…What will you do now?
When we decide to surrender our resources and follow Jesus we are signing over our house, car, bank accounts, career, marriage, children, future, and anything else we have laid claim to. We have no more rights and nothing can be withheld. We deny ourselves and relinquish all rights to our life to Jesus. Let’s make it personal. Think of something that is extremely valuable to you like a piece of jewelry or even a family heirloom. What would happen if God asked you to give that up?

Which do you do—do you adjust your standard of giving to your standard of living, or do you adjust your standard of living to your standard of giving? Which do you believe Christ asks us to do?

What’s your standard of giving? Does that standard ever get compromised? If so, why and how do you feel God would react to that?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you understand what surrendering your resources to Him means personally to you.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 25-30
25 Ezekiel’s tirade ends and the focus shifts. The fate of the city is left hanging as a collection of oracles against foreign nations is presented. Their primary theological role is to show that all peoples are under the dominion and discipline of the King of Kings. Judah had four immediate neighbors – Ammon, Edom, Moab and Philistia.
26 The Tyre prophecies concern the capital of Phoenicia. Tyre dominated the sea; Judah dominated the caravan. The destruction of Tyre was announced … many nations were described metaphorically as the crashing of the sea and its waves.
27 A funeral lament over Tyre’s fall; comparing the city to a ship (mentions many of its trading partners and then describes how the ship sank). The beauty of Tyre was the source of its pride and Tyre’s pride guaranteed its judgment.
28 Previously Ezekiel had prophesied against the city of Tyre. Here he focuses on Tyre’s leader. The chief sin of Tyre’s king was pride – believing himself to be a god. Some of the phrases in these passages describing the human king of Tyre may describe Satan.
29-32 Contain seven prophecies regarding Egypt’s judgment for three key reasons: 1) Egypt was an ancient enemy of the Jews, having once enslaved them for more than 400 years, 2) Egypt worshipped many gods, 3) Egypt’s wealth and power made it seem like a good ally. Egypt offered to help Judah only for benefits it hoped to receive but bailed once they didn’t get what they wanted.
30 This is a lament for Egypt and its allies. Because of the Egyptians’ pride and idolatry they would be brought down. The list of the cities to be destroyed shows the breadth of the destruction; the drying up of the Nile shows how deep the devastation would reach. This was a clear message to Judah not to trust Egypt for help against the Babylonians. God destroyed Egypt’s military superiority and gave it to Babylon.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.27.11

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Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Total Surrender

TUESDAY — I surrender my emotions
Big Point: God wants us to give our hearts fully to him!

      How would you answer this question: I love Jesus but sometimes I am still filled with _____. Anger? Fear? Sadness? Frustration? Loneliness? Guilt? Embarrassment? Shame? Stress?
      Many people think that when they become Christ followers, they will automatically be filled with joy and negative feelings will simply disappear. When that doesn’t happen, they may begin to doubt God’s power to change them. On the other side, when we meet people who are happy all the time, it leaves us wondering, what are they really feeling beneath that happy front?
      God does not want us to give up because we are not always filled with joy. He also does not want us to pretend to be happy all the time. What God wants is what He always wants—for us to trust Him so deeply that we surrender to Him every part of ourselves—especially our hearts. God is a God who feels and we are made in His image. God is not surprised that we are angry or sad or irritated. In the Bible, God is all of those things! God does not expect us to be perfect. But God wants us to learn to surrender our emotions to Him, so that He can share our struggles, fill our loneliness, and heal us. It is not our emotions that are the problem, it is what we do with them.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ephesians 4:31, 32 (New Living Translation)
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Psalm 4:4 (New International Version 1984)
4 In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

THINK…Find the answers Read
Ephesians 4:31, 32. What are we to do with negative emotions and evil behavior? What emotions and behaviors should we exhibit instead?

According to Psalm 4:4, what is one way to “get rid” of negative emotions?


LIVE…What will you do now?
The first step in surrendering our emotions to God is learning to understand and express what we are feeling. One way to learn how to open up to God is to read and pray the Psalms. Read the excerpts from Psalm 55.

1 Listen to my prayer, O God. Do not ignore my cry for help!
2 Please listen and answer me, for I am overwhelmed by my troubles.
17 Morning, noon, and night I cry out in my distress, and the LORD hears my voice.
22 Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
  From Psalm 55

How do these verses speak to you?

Spend some quiet time with God before you go to bed. Review the events of the day with Him. Let God speak to you about your words and actions. Share with Him how you felt throughout the day. Try this tonight and write it here:

Not sure if this applies to you?
Ask yourself these questions:

Are you filled with the joy and contentment the Bible promises?

Do you try to control your emotions, but sometimes they leak out, often in the wrong situation or at the wrong people?

How are your relationships with others?

–adapted from
“Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”
by Peter Scazzero

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Thank God for making you in His image, capable of emotions. Share how you are feeling right now with God. Ask Him to show you how to manage any difficult emotions you have.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 19-24
19 A lioness (symbolizing the nation of Judah) and her two cubs (two kings) illustration is used to create listener curiosity. The first cub was King Jehoahaz who had been taken captive to Egypt in 609 B.C. by Pharaoh Neco. The second cub was either King Jehoiachin, already taken into captivity in Babylon, or King Zedekiah.
20 A view of Israel’s history of rebellion. Shows God’s attempts to bring a nation of rebellious and disobedient people back to Him … responsible for the troubles and judgments. God clearly warned the people about the consequences of disobedience when Israel began. Since the Israelites disobeyed God by refusing to enter the Promised Land, God purified His people, forcing them to wander in the wilderness until that entire generation died.
21 The short message in 20:45 introduces the first of three messages about the judgments that would come upon Jerusalem: 1) the sword of the Lord, 2) the sharpened sword, and 3) the sword of Nebuchadnezzar. The city would be destroyed because it was defiled. God’s judgment was to purify through destruction.
22 Explains Jerusalem’s judgment. The leaders, whom God had chosen, were responsible for the spiritual climate of the nation. The priests no longer carried out God’s pure worship: teaching the people right living.
23 Explanation for God’s judgment through prostitute illustration. God called Jerusalem and Samaria prostitutes.
24 A 588 B.C. illustration … the people of Judah thought they were the “choice pieces of meat” since there was no captivity in 597. Illustration used in Ch. 11 to show that although the people thought they were safe inside the “cooking pot”, this pot would actually be the place of their destruction


Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.26.11

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Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Total Surrender

Which statement seems more appealing to you: “have it your way” or “deny yourself?” Most companies spend a substantial part of their marketing dollars trying to entice you to buy their products with the comfy, cushy “have it your way,” “kick your feet up and lounge philosophy.” And we buy them, right?
What if CedarCreek adopted a slogan that said “deny yourself, become a slave for Christ?” How do you think that would go over? We’d probably have no problem with open seats at the 10:45am service. So you can see why we advertise the way we do in order to get people to come to church, but we don’t stop there. If you have attended the ‘Creek long enough, you’ll notice that we ask you to do what Christ asked his followers to do, and that is to serve others. But let’s take a moment to read the fine print of what the term “serve” or “servant” actually means in the Bible. Are you ready for this? Warning: if you are reading this while driving (hopefully not) pull over, or if you are standing up have a seat. The term “servant” as used by Paul in Romans 1:1 is more properly rendered as “bondslave.” Other translations use the Greek origin “doulas” which also means slave. Yes, we said slave! How does that taste coming out of your mouth?

“You can’t call Jesus Lord
without declaring yourself
his slave.”
-from Not a Fan

      Literally, Christ asks us to become a slave. Did you know that the word slave appears 130 times in the New Testament? So, if we take the word Paul used seriously, it means that Paul had no will of his own. He served Christ unto death. In effect, Paul did not even belong to himself.
We realize the term slavery may conjure up negative feelings and emotions for some ‘based on culture and American history’ where someone was forced to do something against their will. But Christ asks us to literally sign up for slavery? When we accept the invitation to deny ourselves and follow Jesus, we become his slave. A slave, in this context, realizes (as crazy as it might seem to everyone else and as ridiculous as it might appear to those who don’t understand) that he is going to choose a life of slavery. He loves his master and realizes that he’s better off as a slave. In return, we adopt the attitude as depicted in Philippians 2:5-7 that is, we “must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus hadhe gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave…”
Are you ready to tap out, throw in the towel or raise a white flag as Lee described in his video this past weekend? You may think that by denying yourself you’ll miss out, but just the opposite is true. Christ asks us to give up and give in to the will of God so that we can truly discover the joy of following Christ.
This week’s study will challenge you to totally surrender your self-directed life, emotions, resources, relationships and asks you to take on the highest level of commitment at CedarCreek church by becoming a Missional Member. Are you ready for the challenge? Let’s go! (adaptions from Kyle Idleman’s book, Not a Fan.)

MONDAY— I surrender my “self-will/self-directed” life
Big Point: You have to decide if you will let your life be directed by God.

      Here’s an excerpt from Kyle Idleman in his book, Not a Fan: I saw a report on MSNBC about a group of vegetarians. They interviewed one of the new vegetarians, a 28-year old named Christy Pugh. One of her quotes captures the viewpoint of the group. She said, “I usually eat vegetarian. But I really like sausage.” She represents a growing number of people who eat vegetarian but make some exceptions. They don’t eat meat, unless they really like it. As you can imagine, the real vegetarians aren’t real happy about the new vegetarians. They put pressure on the “new vegetarians” to change their name. And so here’s the name they chose for themselves: flexetarians. As I watched the report I realized something; I’m a flexetarian. I absolutely refuse to eat meat, unless it’s being served. Christy explains it this way, “I really like vegetarian food, but I’m just not 100% committed.”
“Flexetarian” is a good way to describe how many people approach their commitment to Christ. And that’s the way many Christians approach their commitment to Jesus and the Bible. I really like Jesus – but I don’t really like serving the poor – I’m not real big into the idea of going to church – my resources are spoken for. I love Jesus – but don’t ask me to save sex for marriage. I love Jesus – but don’t ask me to forgive the person who hurt me. I love Jesus – but I’m not 100% committed. They call themselves Christians. They follow Jesus, but they’ve made some exceptions. So when bacon is on the menu, their commitments can be adjusted.

READ…What does the Bible say?
2 Timothy 3:16 (New Living Translation)
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

Matthew 26:39 (New Living Translation)
39 He (Jesus) went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 26:39 is an ultimate prayer of submission. Look at the word “cup.” In the Bible, the phrase “cup of suffering” is a phrase describing God’s judgment, and Jesus knew that he was going to the cross as a substitute for our sins— taking God’s judgment upon himself

THINK…Find the answers
Read 2 Timothy 3:16. What are the different roles that the Bible is designed to play in our lives?

How does the role of the Bible in our lives conflict with how we want to live our lives?

LIVE…What will you do now?
In Matthew 26:39, Jesus goes to God in prayer asking to be released from the death sentence awaiting him. Yet, at the end of his prayer, Jesus affirms God’s will for him to be a sacrifice for our sin.

Complete this question: In order for me to deny myself and totally surrender to God in every area of my life, I will need to:

How would a totally surrendered life to Christ be different than the life you are living right now?

In a typical week, US adults say they:
• Read the Bible outside of church: 40%
• Volunteer at church: 19%
• Attend a worship service: 40%
• Accept Jesus and expect to be saved: 40%
• Call Bible “totally accurate” in all principles: 38%
• Define God as an all-knowing, all-powerful ruler: 67%

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Being a “flexetarian” might seem attractive—especially knowing you have an “out” when you don’t want to do something. God does not call us to be “flexetarians” in our faith—that is not His will for us. If you’ve been a “flexetarian” and you don’t want to be any longer, then today is the time to surrender yourself fully to God in prayer.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 13-18
13 A warning directed against false prophets whose lies were intended to win popularity- saying whatever made the people happy. False prophets lulled people into a false sense of security. Unlike Ezekiel who wanted a message consistent with God’s word.
14 God condemned the insincere leaders for setting up idols in their hearts and appearing to worship God and then coming to God’s prophet for advice. The people of Judah considered the presence of a few God-fearing men in the kingdom a kind of insurance policy against disaster. In a pinch they could always ask for their advice. 15 The messages given to Ezekiel in chapters 15-17 provide further evidence that God was going to destroy Jerusalem. The first message was about a vine, useless at first and even more useless after being burned.
16 … a reminder of a former despised status among the Canaanite nations (who sought alliances with pagan nations, adopting their customs)… that God raised Jerusalem from her lowly state to great glory as His bride. God cared for and loved Judah, only to have it turn away to other nations and their false gods. The people forgot who gave them life. The conduct of the Jews was so disgusting.
17 The two eagles in this chapter represent warnings to two prophets, to not form an alliance. Although many miles apart both prophets received the same message because both spoke for God.
18 The destruction of Jerusalem was not from past sins but rather spiritual decay in previous generations-God judges individually. People used excuses to disobey God. God’s love is perfect with perfect justice. He cannot overlook those who willfully sin.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.23.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.23.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Passionate Pursuit

FRIDAY — Reward
How are you today? At the beginning of the week, many of you were skeptical that anything could really change. Last weekend, Lee asked you to pick up this LIO Bible study and commit to doing it each day. It might have been a busy week and likely filled with lots of challenges, but you’ve made it to today. Congratulations!
Our prayer is that your heart has been revived over the past week in some way—hopefully, in “extra”ordinary ways! What we know is that there is a reward which comes to us as a feeling of peace and satisfaction of a love relationship with God. We feel it and know that we are “in the zone!” We experience it when we are passionately pursuing God.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Psalm 34:8 (New Living Translation)
Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!

THINK…Find the answers
What does Psalm 34:8 ask us to do to understand the joy and goodness of our Lord?

We’re going to close out this week’s LIO Bible study with a final thought from Bill Bright about what it means to have Christ as our first love:

“If this love I have now—this first love—is only partial, I
can only say that I long for the final edition…But for now,
we have something wonderful. It cannot compare to the
glories of heaven, but it is still the most wonderful thing
in this world. I refer to the indescribable love of God.
Cling to it. Cherish it and nurture it every day. Make your
first love be your lasting, permanent love, and God will
grant you wonderful blessings beyond any imagining.
And be sure to share your renewed love with others.”

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
If this week you have sincerely desired to return to your first love for God, Bill Bright asks you to pray this prayer and consider praying it regularly for the rest of your life:

“Father in heaven, I sincerely desire to love you with all
of my heart, soul, mind and strength. And I want to love
my family, my neighbors and friends, even my enemies.

I realize that I am incapable of loving you and others in
my own strength. So, on the authority of your command
to love and your promise to hear and answer this prayer,
I claim by faith in that mighty name of Jesus you will answer
my prayer. Amen.”

Weekend Reminders: Check out for more details .
Are you single? Join other CedarCreek Singles for Single Impact Day on October 1! Single Impact is a SINGLE ONLY opportunity to make a difference in our CedarCreek Campus Communities on October 1st, at all campuses from 9am-2pm. Register online at under “get connected” and classes and seminars.

Lose the Loner Life, Get Connected and Join a LifeGroup: A LifeGroup is a small group of people who gather together frequently in homes, offices, restaurants, and coffee shops for the purpose of building relationships and helping one another grow in their relationship with Christ. Find a LifeGroup that’s just right for you online at, click on “get connected”.

Discover Your Purpose— Discover your unique ability in helping serve the kingdom of God. Register at the Welcome Center or online at under “get connected” and classes and seminars.

Thinking about getting Baptized? The next New Community will be held on Sunday, September 25th, 6pm at the Toledo Campus. If you want to be baptized, come to the Toledo Campus at 3:30pm wearing a dark shirt, shorts. Bring a towel and an extra change of clothes.

Living It Out: September 2011
Luke 9:23 (New Living Translation)
23 Then he [Jesus] said to the crowd, “If any of you
wants to be my follower, you must turn from your
selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”

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.


Old Testament commentary compiled by: Jan Martensen, First Love by Dr. Bill Bright, and Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman


This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Amber Diestel
Barb Roose
Stephanie Coil

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 7-12
7:1-6 When God said five times that the “end is coming” Jerusalem did not believe it. False prophets predicted peace. Inhabitants of Jerusalem felt secure because of God’s Temple and His presence in the Temple.
8:1 Fourteen months following Ezekiel’s acted out demonstrations of God’s judgment to come.
8:10 This description fits a Canaanite fertility goddess.
8:11 “seventy elders” The senior leadership of the Temple worshiped what were probably Egyptian idols, although in secret.
8:14 “Tammuz” Pagan god of the underworld, whose worshipers believed that their tears enabled him to provide rain and fertility.
10:1-2 Once again Ezekiel sees the vision of God, living creatures (which now he recognizes as cherubim, a powerful type of angel) and wheels.
10:2,6-7 God’s judgment on sin reflects both His justice and His mercy. The fire of God’s judgment purifies and refines, a picture later adapted by the apostle Paul to describe judgment of the believer’s work here on earth.
10:18 Because Jerusalem and the Temple are not completely sin free, God removes His glory slowly, another sign of His mercy. He would eventually depart from Jerusalem altogether.
11:14-16 False prophets claimed that God’s judgment had fallen on those in exile and those in Jerusalem rightfully possessed the land. 11:19-20 Restored hearts are far more important than restored land to God, although He promised to restore the land.
Chapter 12 A pre-view of coming judgment, Ezekiel acted out again the final siege of Jerusalem, walking into the sunset blind-folded. Indeed, King Zedekiah would be bound, blinded and taken from Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 39:2-9).

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.22.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.22.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Passionate Pursuit

THURSDAY — Revival
Big Point: Simply serving God isn’t enough. We should long to possess a heart overflowing with love and praise for God.

Don’t forget! We challenged you to consider a spiritual fast today.
Check yesterday’s study for instructions and some safety guidelines.

     When people hear the word “revival” it often conjures up images of church tents and all-night prayer meetings. A revival has been defined as an event that we attend rather than a transformation experience within our hearts.
In his book, First Love, Bill Bright explains that when we repent and return to our first love, we experience the joy we long for—a revival of our spirit. As an illustration, Bright discusses the Prodigal Son: “The young man wanted from his father; he fell from the nobility of his birthright.” Then, in true Revelation 2 form, he considered the height from which he had fallen. He repented and turned his face toward home…But the most striking element of that story, in my opinion, is not its depiction of the son’s sorrow. The greatest truth is seen in its dazzling portrait of our Father’s forgiveness. Luke 15:20: ‘While he (prodigal) was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.’
Is your image of God consistent with Luke 15:20? Jesus wants us to see that God is like this father who is wildly joyful, overflowing with love and compassion, embracing and kissing a son who surely smells of filthy hogs, a dusty journey, and a sordid life.”
Yes, God does hate the cheap sins and false gods for which we desert Him. He does have wrath and He does judge sin. But He looks upon His stray children with love and compassion. He waits with His eyes on the horizon, day after day. Then—before we can even return to Him—He meets us halfway, heaping blessings upon blessings on our head, declaring a celebration in heaven.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Psalm 51:10, 12-13 (New Living Translation)
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.

THINK…Find the answers
Psalm 51:10, 12-13 was written by King David as a humble prayer of forgiveness after committing some pretty heinous sins. What process had to happen before King David reached the point of being able to pen this contrite prayer?

Not only is King David seeking a revival of his heart, but what does he also realize will happen once his heart is revived? What impact does he expect to have?

LIVE…What will you do now?
For the past few days, you have been taking the time to “remember,” “repent,” “resume,” in order to reach today’s goal, which is “revival.” How do you think your life will change once you’ve rediscovered Christ as your first love?

Yesterday, you were challenged to fast today and given instructions and guidelines about how to safely engage in a spiritual fast. If you took that challenge, here’s a chance to reflect:

• Have you experienced a heightened spiritual sensitivity? If yes, in what ways?

• Has your body protested the lack of snacks and meals? What have you realized about how spiritual fasting clashes with our earthly desires?

• What has God revealed to you during your fast?

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
Revival occurs when we repent and turn towards God again. If your heart has been revived this week, then today is a great day to give thanks to God for drawing

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 4-6
4:1-3 Did the inhabitants of Jerusalem look with amusement on Ezekiel as he acted out the city’s siege? Ezekiel drew a sketch on the ground and then used an iron pot to indicate the wall of sin separating the city from God.
4:4-6 Ezekiel was to lay on the ground on his left side for 390 days and 40 days on his right side. The exact meaning of the number of days is unknown, but clearly indicated that judgment would be long.
4:9-11 God commanded Ezekiel to eat starvation rations, again an indication of how desperate Jerusalem’s siege would be.
4:12-15 God’s command to cook the food over dried human excrement indicate how defiling the siege and coming exile would be. Ezekiel objected to the abomination as an obedient priest and God granted him his request of using dried cow excrement.
5:1 Shaving the head is an act of extreme humiliation, especially for a priest.
5:3 Three piles of hair models the coming fate of Jerusalem: one was burned, one was hacked into pieces and one scattered by wind; only a few strands were spared.
6:1-7 A mountain range around Jerusalem made it a difficult city to occupy, almost unthinkable. Ezekiel’s prophesy against the mountains was strange to Israel’s ears. Yet the high mountains were home to pagan idol worship, prostitution and child sacrifices. Israel repeatedly disobeyed God’s command to destroy these detestable places.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.21.11

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Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Passionate Pursuit

Big Point: Getting back to the basics is so important!

     In 1989, University of Michigan guard Rumeal Robinson stepped up to the foul line for two shots. There were only a few seconds left in the game versus conference rival Wisconsin, and Michigan trailed by a single point. Robinson had the opportunity to be a hero—all he had to do was make one shot to send the game into overtime. Or, he could make both shots and win the game for his team.
     Robinson missed both shots.
     The All-American guard was left at the line with his head hung in shame as the Wisconsin players ran off the court shouting with joy. Robinson had failed and in something so simple and fundamental.
     He felt great sorrow over that game. For the rest of the season, he put his disappointment into action. After every practice for the rest of the season, Robinson stayed behind after practice to shoot 100 foul shots each day. At the end of the season, Robinson was standing on the foul line again. This time, there were three seconds left in overtime in the national championship game versus Seton Hall. He made both shots. Rumeal Robinson had felt his failure deeply enough to return to the fundamentals and the things he did when he first loved basketball.
      In Revelation 2:5c Jesus instructs the Ephesians to “do the works you did at first.” In other words, go back to the basics. In basketball, we first learn how to shoot a foul shot and dribble the ball. In music, we learn to read the notes on the staff and how to play our instrument correctly. At work, we are instructed how to log in to our computer and where the coffee pot is located. What are the basics of the Christian life? Sure, going to church is important, but are you spending quality time with God, reading the Bible, praying? Or are these just tasks you check off each week?

READ…What does the Bible say?
Revelation 2:5c (New International Version)
…and do the works you did at first…

THINK…Find the answers
According to Revelation 2:5c what are we to do?

LIVE…What will you do now?
If you’re a believer, what did you do at first? Read your Bible everyday? Tell your friends about your new faith? Spend time in conversation with God?

What are you doing now to grow your relationship with Christ? Are you still reading your Bible everyday? Telling your friends about your faith? Spending time in conversation with God? Have you lost that “loving feeling” for God?

With the sound of the Righteous Brothers ringing in your ears, let’s review highlights of “Your Personal Guide to Fasting and Prayer” by Dr. Bill Bright. Fasting is the most powerful spiritual discipline of all the Christian disciplines that can rekindle our “first love.” Dr. Bright notes that:
• Fasting and prayer can result in a more intimate relationship with Christ.
• Fasting is a biblical way to truly humble yourself in the sight of God.
• Fasting enables the Holy Spirit to reveal your true spiritual condition, resulting in brokenness, repentance, and a transformed life.

Perhaps you could fast and pray tomorrow? Take note of these steps:
1. Prepare spiritually: Examine your heart and any un-confessed sin.
2. Prepare physically: Start slowly. Consider fasting from food for one or two
meals a day tomorrow. Fasting is about a condition of the heart, not a number of
days. After some practice, perhaps you could build to a 40 day fast.
3. What to consume: Drink water, broths and juices (watermelon, apple, greens).
4. Other notes: Manage your schedule wisely, note physical effects and whether
you may need medical supervisory oversight for your fast. Learn more from Dr.
Bill Bright at index.htm

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help   you resume your first love by fasting and praying.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ezekiel 1-3
Ezekiel is primarily prophetic writing …the vocabulary and descriptions of beings and events in the book seem strange to “modern minds”. 1:1 A number of dates in Ezekiel can be cross-checked with dates in surviving Babylonian records and related accurately to our modern calendar. The date is July 31, 593 B.C.
1:3 Ezekiel means “God strengthens”. God assigned him a prophetic ministry among the exiles rather than temple duty.
1:5-14 In a tornado-like, flashing cloud God communicates His Word to Ezekiel. Four living creatures with an appearance that likely symbolize attributes of the Lord’s servants, such as stability, focus, humility, and sensitivity to the Spirit. The fire around them symbolizes their utter holiness.
1:15-21 The wheel within a wheel indicates the object could go in any direction, including up (a major accomplishment in ancient times). The eyes covering the wheels are a picture of God’s omnipresence (to describe God’s ability to be everywhere) and God’s omniscience (describes God’s ability to know everything).
1:25-28 Ezekiel tries to describe the appearance of God on His throne. He knows the impossibility of his task. The words “appearance,” “appear” and “like” are frequently used. His response, however, is the only logical one; he throws himself, face down, on the ground.
2:1 “son of man” The term simply means “human one”. This term was Jesus’ favorite description of himself.
2:10 “…writing on the front and back” Papyrus scrolls commonly had writing on both sides, leather scrolls did not. Writing on both sides indicates the completeness of God’s Word and coming judgment.
3:18-21 God’s standards for Ezekiel are really high. Ezekiel must faithfully communicate God’s message. If he does not communicate faithfully, God lays the consequences at Ezekiel’s feet.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.20.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.20.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Passionate Pursuit

Big Point: God pursues us so that we may make a complete turnaround.

     Here’s a great story from one of our LIO writers: This summer my family and I traveled to Moody Bible College in Chicago for a conference. I was excited because while none of our schedules originally allowed us to go, two days before the conference started, I believe God orchestrated the ability for ALL our schedules to fall in place so we could attend together!
     While sightseeing in the city, we encountered a homeless man and felt prompted to talk to him. The man explained that he was down on his luck. He originally came to Chicago for a job that didn’t work out. Then, the man broke down in tears and told us he felt God had told him not to make this move to Chicago, but the man didn’t listen.
     We encouraged him in scriptures – actually he shared many scriptures with us as well – and we talked about God’s unfailing love, specifically discussing that if we repent of our disobedience, then God will get us back on track. We prayed that God would make a way for him to get back home.
     As I reflect on this experience, I see a divine encounter orchestrated by a loving Father. I am overwhelmed with His love for us even when we mess up, and the great lengths He will go to encourage us, lead us, and bring us back to him.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Revelation 2:5 (New Living Translation)
5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…

Romans 2:4 (New International Version, 1984)
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Luke 5:32 (New Living Translation)
I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.

THINK…Find the answers
What is God asking us to do in all three of these verses? Why does He want us to turn back to Him so badly?

The word “repentance” means a complete turnaround, both inside and out; it means moving beyond guilt…to transformation. We asked this last week, but it’s good to ask again: What’s the difference between repentance and merely feeling guilty?

In Romans 2:4, the apostle Paul describes God’s character and attitude toward us, even when we have traveled far from God. What does God say His kindness is intended to do in our lives? Why is kindness more effective than harsh treatment?

LIVE…What will you do now?
When we remember what our faith was like at the beginning, it shouldn’t take long for us to also remember the things that began to interfere with our first love. Maybe some of you realize that sin—in some form or another—has gotten in your way. Repentance is a moment of pain, but being unrepentant is a life of pain. We become very comfortable in our sin.

Here’s how we embark upon repentance:
1. Make a list of sins that have wooed you away from Christ as your first love.
2. Resolve to turn away from those attitudes and behaviors.
3. Truly repent, pray, ask God for forgiveness and resolve to follow after Christ.

Try this for the rest of today! In last week’s LIO Bible study, we explored something called “spiritual breathing.” Let’s try this again today: The moment you become aware of sin in your life you exhale. When you exhale, you breathe out and repent of your sin. Repentance becomes a natural response and clears out space in our hearts for the Spirit to fill us. So the moment you are prideful, jealous, lustful, harsh, selfish, impatient, you exhale and repent of your sin.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Meditate on the above verses. Reflect on God’s tolerance, patience and the kindness you’ve experienced in your life. Ask Him to show you what you need to repent of, then thank Him for His Love for you and how He has passionately pursued you.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Song of Songs 7-8
7:1 “Your navel…” Only occurrence of this Hebrew word. May mean just navel, but properly refers to navel and the female private parts. The reference of mixed wine suggests an obejct of intoxication such as sexual arousal.
7:2 “… your belly” Could be translated waist. Likely refers to a woman’s abdominal/ stomach region and not the hips.
7:4 “…pools of Heshbon by the gate of Bath-Rabbim.” The significance of this statement is uncertain. The site has not yet been identified by archaeologists.
7:13 “The mandrakes…” In the ancient Near East the mandrake was thought to be an aphrodisiac and therefore utilized as a fertility drug and a symbol of erotic love. The roots of the plant are forked and resemble a human with outstretched arms and legs.
7:13 “… over our door” Fruits were stored on shelves or in cupboards over the door of a house. In this location they were out of reach and could mature and dry until they were very sweet.
8:1 “Oh I wish you were my little brother.” A very unusual phrase to our modern ears but expressing an unreal wish (e.g. If only I knew where to find him).
8:6 “…seal” Seals were used to make a stamp impression to identify the object as the property of the seal’s owner. It was a valuable possession so its owner would take precautions not to lose it and keep it close at all times.
8:8-9 The brothers of the Beloved still looks at her as their little sister they need to protect. During the betrothal, sexual temptations would be at their greatest and the brothers devise a plan to protect the purity of their sister. So, if she is a virtuous woman, “a wall”, they will reward her; if she is promiscuous, they will restrain her.
8:10 “I was a wall…” She successfully defended her virginity and sexual purity from seduction.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.19.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.19.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Passionate Pursuit

   So what do you do if you’re a fan who wants to be a follower but your heart just isn’t in it? You want to come after Christ with a passionate pursuit, but the truth is you feel apathetic and indifferent. You don’t want to feel that way, but you do. Have you ever heard of the “Seven Deadly Sins”? They don’t appear as a list anywhere in scripture, but they were developed years ago when the literacy rate was quite low and people weren’t reading the Bible for themselves. Some of the early church leaders got together and made a list of the worst sins so that at least people would know what not to do.
     There is one on the list that always seems a little out of place. “Sloth” is listed as a deadly sin. Laziness is never good, but it hardly seems deadly. The word “sloth” is translated from the word acedia. A better way to convey what the early church leaders were getting at would be to translate the word as “spiritual apathy.” You reach a point where you simply say, “I don’t care.” God loves you and sent His son to die on the cross to forgive your sins and you shrug your shoulders. That’s acedia, and it’s an epidemic among fans.
     The passion is gone. There is no pursuit. Maybe there was a time when you followed Jesus that way, but at some point you lost interest. That’s what happened to the Christians in Ephesus. In Revelation 2:4-5 Jesus says this to the church: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first…” Other translations say “lost” or “left” their first love. That love refers to a loss of enthusiasm or passion for God Himself.

“Pursuing Jesus is your choice…He will settle for nothing less than to be the great love and pursuit of your life.” -from Not a Fan

     So what do you do if you find yourself in a place of acedia, where you want to passionately pursue Jesus but your heart’s not in it? Jesus says to repent and do the things you did at first.
     That’s a great place to start in your relationship with Christ. Confess the sin of acedia in your life and then start doing the things you did at first. Get on your knees next to your bed and talk to God about your day. Turn on some worship music in your car and sing along. Grab a Bible and start reading and meditating on God’s word (you’re already on the right track by grabbing this Living it Out “LIO” Bible study!). Even though you don’t initially feel like doing some of those things it will begin to stir the first love that has grown dim.
     For you who are struggling, yet hoping to get your faith back on track, this week’s LIO study can be huge for you—if you choose to let it be. For those who are passionately following Christ, this week’s study will affirm and encourage you to keep doing the things that allow your passionate faith to continue growing. (This week’s Introduction adapted from Kyle Idleman’s book, Not a Fan…you can still get this book at any CedarCreek bookstore.)


MONDAY — Remember…
Big Point: We re-energize our faith when we remember our early passion!

In 1757, a 22-year old Robert Robinson wrote the enduring hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” While the song was written hundreds of years ago, it has enjoyed contemporary popularity as it has been rearranged and re-recorded by a variety of different musicians—if you’ve attended, we’ve even done it as a chorus during a weekend service.
It would seem that a man like Robinson would never stumble or stall in his faith after writing such heartfelt words. But, he did. Robinson’s love for Jesus was deep, but not dependable. At times his passion for God waned. Sometimes he felt nothing at all —as the words of the song say, “Prone to wander… Prone to leave the God I love.”
As time went on, Robinson wandered farther away from God. He came to feel that he had gone too far to even be reconciled to God. Sin and corruption had become a regular part of his life. He was a miserable man, consumed by the grief of his own guilt. He began to journey, hoping to find peace and escape his guilt.
One day Robinson was riding on a stagecoach next to a woman who was filled with the love of Christ. He was a captive audience, even though he would have rather been anywhere else. The woman asked Robinson’s opinion on a hymn she was reading in a devotional book. He looked at the page and saw his own words. Great tears fell down his face and he confessed to be the writer of the song. “I am the man that wrote that hymn,” he said. “Many years ago. I’d give anything to experience that joy again—anything.” The woman pointed to the lines of the song and reminded Robinson that there was no distance too great for God to find him, comfort him and bring him home again. (This story adapted from Bill Bright’s First Love)

Come Thou Fount of every blessing

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Revelation 2:4-5a (New International Version 1984)

4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. 5 Remember the height from which you have fallen!

THINK…Find the answers
In Revelation 2:4-5a, Jesus is critiquing believers at a church in Ephesus. What was Jesus’ main complaint?

LIVE…What will you do now?
In any new relationship, there is a “honeymoon period,” whether it is a new marriage, new relationship, new job or home—it’s the time period when everything is great! But, the honeymoon period never lasts, does it? Well, it’s time to take a trip down the “Memory Lane” of your faith. Reflect and answer the following questions:
• Where and when did you first become aware that God loved you as well as had a plan and a purpose for your life?

• When did you pray to receive Christ as your Savior? Who was there with you? How did you feel before and after praying?

• Who were the first Christ-followers you hung out with in the early days after coming to faith? What kinds of things did you do with them? How did that change your life?

• Reflect and write: List five or six words that describe your feelings or experiences that you had when your faith was exciting and new:

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
If some time in the past you have known God intimately, yet now you realize you’ve lost the intensity of your passion for Him, you can be sure God is waiting for you to return. If you are ready to return, take some time today to let God know.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Song of Songs 5-6
5:1 “…my garden” Likely refers back to 4:16. It is in the past tense in Hebrew.
5:1 “my sister…” An eastern term of endearment by husband, a relational expression of closeness.
5:1b “Eat, friends, and drink!” A mid-east tradition – after bridegroom returns from nuptial chamber and exhibits signs of his wife’s purity, a cause for joy, an invitation to celebration is announced.
5:2-8 “I was asleep, but my heart was dreaming.” Scholars interpret this one of two ways. 1. The Beloved was sleeping, but her mind was dreaming (she heard him knocking on the door in her dream); 2. The Beloved was just about to fall asleep or had been sleeping when she was awakened by the knocking on the door.
5:2 “…my heart…” My heart could also be translated my mind. The term is associated with emotions and thoughts. 5:3 “I have taken off my robe” She was dressed in her night gown.
5:7 “…stripped off my veil…” To tear the veil signifies to dishonor a woman.
5:16 “…my lover and my friend” The beloved calls her husband both lover and friend, a key to maintaining romance in the marriage.
6:3 “I am my lover’s and my lover is mine” Similar poetic refrain in 2:16 and 7:10.
6:4 “… beautiful as Tirzah, as lovely as Jerusalem” Tirzah means beautiful, pleasure or delightful. King Jeroboam chose Tirzah as the capital of Northern Kingdom. The Lover compares the Beloved to two of the most beautiful and important cities in Israel.
6:8 ” … sixty, … eighty, … without number” Is an example of a graded numerical sequence and is not intended to be exact numeration.