Trust His Plan

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 2

Emergency rooms—they are never fun! Well, at least not unless you are watching one of your favorite medical dramas on TV. About a week ago, I found myself in the emergency room at Toledo Hospital with a bit of a health scare. My body had been telling me for the last couple of weeks that something was not quite right, but I was still waiting and hoping it might go away on its own. It simply did not fit into my plan for my life right now to have to address something like that!

When the staff at the urgent care, where I had gone first because of severe pain, instructed me to go to the emergency room as soon as possible, I felt very scared. All the worst-case scenarios went through my head as I was driving there. I prayed to God to protect me and to let it be something fixable.

I am still very new at this whole “accepting God’s plan for your life” thing—I am much more used to taking charge and following my own plan. After all, especially these last few years since my divorce, there was not really anyone I could totally rely on at that level besides myself. Apparently, this way of thinking is not easy to let go of, as I have discovered since finding my way back to God almost two years ago. And I have wrestled with it on and off ever since…

Today, we continue to follow the Christmas story in Matthew 2. It is most reassuring reading it again so shortly after Easter. It reminds us that he is always with us.

What struck me in this chapter is how everything was planned by God in advance—all he asked of those involved was to follow his plan. The Magi outwitted Herod and did not disclose the actual location of Jesus’ birthplace. Once Herod did figure things out and sent for all boys under two years old to be killed, he again was foiled, because God had already arranged for Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt until Herod’s time had passed. Even thereafter, Joseph chose a location upon his return far away from Herod’s successor, based on a message from God in a dream in a town called Nazareth.

Matthew 2:22-23 (NIV) 
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea, in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that he would be called a Nazarene.

Trusting and following his plan sounds so easy, but is actually quite hard to do. I know I still struggle with this at times! But God promises that he has a plan for us—a plan that is good for us! We might not always know what this plan is and how things that happen to us fit in, but he invites us to learn to trust his plan.

Besides learning to listen to what my body is trying to tell me sooner next time, this health scare reminded me yet again (I am apparently a slow learner) of something else: to trust God’s plan for my life in terms of the people he has surrounded me with. A special person whom God had placed in my life not long ago completely came through for me that day when I had to go to the ER. This person dropped everything they were doing to be by my side. They were there to help and support me, and to cheer me up with his funny jokes. It was incredibly reassuring for me to have finally someone by my side whom I could totally trust and lean upon. Someone selfless, loving and kind. And luckily it turns out that I should be fine and will just need some follow up treatment. I am incredibly grateful to God and his plan for me! Going forward, I will try even harder to trust his plan for me rather than trying to do things on my own!

Questions:
Are you trusting God’s plan for your life? If not, why not? How has God shown up in your life recently? Are you aware of the promises God has made to you? Have you thanked God for the good in your life as well as the challenges he is facing together with you?

Next Steps:
Make a list of times when God has shown up in your life and when you realized that he has had a plan for you. Share your experiences with a fellow Christ follower. If you find it difficult to trust his plan, speak to fellow Christ followers about your struggles to trust him. Try to learn from their experiences.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you so much for helping me through difficult times and for providing me with such loving and comforting support through the wonderful people whom you have placed in my life. Please help me to provide the best possible support I can in return to those in my life whom I love. Please let me work for you and your plan. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Introducing the Savior

Today’s Scripture: Matthew 1

Today we start the Gospel of Matthew. As we read Matthew Chapter 1, we see that Matthew is introducing his readers to Jesus the Messiah, the son of David and Abraham.

Matthew was written with the Jewish audience in mind. This is why he starts his book off with Jesus’ genealogy. It was essential to establish that Jesus is the Messiah who was promised long ago. The Jewish people had long been waiting for the arrival of their Savior, and they knew that when he came, he would be from the line of David and a descendent of Abraham, because God had made promises long ago to both men. He promised David and Abraham that he would bless them and that their line would rule forever. These promises are known as the Davidic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant. Both of these covenants are found in the Jewish Scriptures.

The Davidic Covenant:

Psalms 89:20, 29 (NIV)
20 I have found David my servant;
   with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
29 I will establish his line forever,
   his throne as long as the heavens endure.

1 Chronicles 17:11-14 (NIV)
11 When your days are over and you go to be with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessors. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.

The Abrahamic Covenant:

Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV)
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 I will make you into a great nation,
   and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
   and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
   and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
   will be blessed through you.”

Galatians 3:8 (NIV)
8 Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Through writing Jesus’ genealogy, Matthew is making the case that Jesus has the credentials to be their Messiah. He continues throughout the book of Matthew to show that the time has come to fulfill what was promised long ago. The descendant of David and Abraham is here, and he is the one that saves. He is the Messiah.

Matthew was a tax collector before he answered the call of Jesus to follow him. As an accountant, he was used to making sure that every “i” was dotted and every “t” was crossed, and he took that same approach to his book. He was meticulous in making a case for Jesus. The book of Matthew quotes the Old Testament, also called the Jewish Scriptures, one hundred thirty times. That is more than any other Gospel, and when Matthew quoted someone, he always cited his source. He builds and builds on his case. He deliberately connects Jesus to Messianic prophecies in order to leave no doubt that he is the Messiah—the one who was promised, the long-awaited king of the Jews from the line of David. Today, we can have confidence the Jesus is the Messiah and that God is faithful to keep his promises.

Questions:
Why was it so essential for Matthew to connect Jesus to the line of David and Abraham?

Jesus fulfilled the promises God made to Abraham and David. How do these fulfilled promises encourage you today?

Next Steps:
Commit to completing the book of Matthew this month by reading the LivingItOut each day. As you read, look for the ways that Matthew  builds a case for Jesus being our Savior, and shows us how he fulfilled the prophecies from long ago.

Prayer:
Dear God, you are worthy of our praise. You are perfect in every way and excellent in all that you do. Today, I praise you. Thank you for sending your son to be our Savior. He is the fulfillment of the things you promised long ago. He is everything that you promised and worthy of being followed. Today, I commit to following you with my actions, my words, and my thoughts. I give them all to you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Loving One Another

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 6

Galatians 6:1-3
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

At the end of every year, I ask God to help me identify a character trait that he would have me focus on for the coming year. This year I felt like he told me two traits: humility and gentleness. So when I read these verses, I thought I was probably meant to write about those traits as they appear in Galatians 6 this week.

For those of you who know me personally, I doubt you would describe me as gentle, meaning mild, soft, quiet, demure, retiring, or unassuming. I am rather assertive and, at times, bold and opinionated. Yes, I need work here! As for humility … well, it is tough to claim to be humble! It’s like being proud of not being proud!

However, in these verses, Paul is telling us to help one another stay on the right path—the path that brings us closer to Jesus. It is easy for us to look at our brothers or sisters and play the comparison game: “Well, at least I’m not as bad as them!” But Paul warns us that we are not far from falling into a similar, if not the very same, pit! He calls us to walk in humility beside the one who is struggling, sharing their burden just as Jesus told us he would share ours. When we look down on someone who has wandered off the path, we need to remember that we are only one bad decision away from falling off that path ourselves. That thought should keep us humble!

The hope that someone would care enough about us to pursue us, gently, when we take off in the wrong direction should remind us that we are important in God’s plan, not our own. So we should not think ourselves too important to stop and help restore our brother or sister, whom God loves too, because next week they may be helping to restore us!

Questions:
What do you think your responsibilities are toward a brother or sister in Christ who has made a poor choice or bad decision?

Can you speak the truth to them in gentleness and humility?

Next Steps:
In your Group, or with some Christian friends, talk about any experience you have had in walking beside someone in restoration, or of someone walking with you. Talk about how effective that experience was, as well as ways by which it might have been better.

Prayer:
My heavenly Father, I thank you that I am never out of your sight. I thank you that you put people in my life to tell me the truth, even when it’s hard to hear, and that they are willing to walk beside me, to lead me back to you. I thank you for your tender mercies that are new every morning. I am in awe of your faithfulness, your gentleness, and your humility. You humbled yourself, that I could know you. Your gentleness invites me to come to you. Help me extend your gentleness and humility to others, so that they might come to know you too. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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The Sweet Spot of Freedom

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 5

The Christian walk is a journey that can take us from one extreme to another. One extreme is relying on our own rule-keeping or do-gooding to make us right with God. The other extreme is to feel that we can do whatever we want, taking advantage of the grace that Jesus so graciously offers. Neither of those extremes are what God intended for us when he sent Christ to die for us. Galatians 5:13 says that we “have been called to live in freedom.” Well, where exactly is that sweet spot of freedom?

First, let’s look at what is NOT the sweet spot of freedom. Paul warns us not to “get tied up again in slavery to the law” (vs. 1). He further explains that if we’re counting on our rule-keeping (law) to make us right or to find favor with God, we’ve got it all wrong. In fact, at the end of the chapter, he warns that that kind of mentality ends up making us conceited (thinking we’re better than everyone else) and in turn can result in us “biting and devouring one another” (vs. 15), which is destructive.

The other extreme that is NOT the sweet spot of freedom in Christ is using the freedom God has provided for us to “satisfy your sinful nature” (v. 13). We exploit the precious grace that Jesus offers to us and misinterpret it as a free ticket to satisfy ourselves, doing whatever we want. Galatians 5:19-21 explicitly lists examples of our sinful nature … and I’m sure we can all find something there we have been guilty of in the past (or present).

So what does it mean to live in the sweet spot of freedom? The HCSB Study Bible note for verses 5-6 says that “hope for long-term righteousness before God is through living by faith in the power of the Holy Spirit.” Verse 6 says that “what matters is faith working through love” (HCSB). Paul encourages us to:

  • “Use your freedom to serve one another in love” (vs. 13),
  • “Let the Holy Spirit guide your lives” (vs. 16),
  • “Follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives” (vs. 25).

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder reminded us on Sunday that “who you are clarifies what to do.” The sweet spot of freedom is recognizing that we are God’s children, saved by grace—not by the good that we do—and that we are worthy because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. With that, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in this life and, by God’s power, we can live in this sweet spot of freedom.

Questions:
Are you living in one of the extremes mentioned above, with too much emphasis on rule-keeping or too much emphasis on your personal freedom? What would it look like for you to live in the sweet spot of freedom in Christ?

Next Steps:
Take some time to reflect, and if you’ve been living in one of those extremes, have a conversation with God about that. Call out to the Holy Spirit for his help to live in the freedom God has called us to. Ask another follower of Christ to help keep you accountable in this area.

Prayer:
Father, we thank you for what Jesus did on the cross, and that through him we are worthy before you. Thank you for the grace that you have freely given. Forgive us when we try to earn righteousness on our own or when we take advantage of the grace that cost you so much. Help us to follow the Holy Spirit in our lives to have victory over our sinful nature and that we may “serve one another in love.” In Jesus’ name, amen!


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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Living By His Will

Today’s Scripture: Galatians 4

Let’s be honest—we all want something.

That’s an accurate statement, right? And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. As Christians, we’re called to be content, but not complacent. We’re told not to hurry and worry, but we’re still working for and running toward something. As they say, “If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”

Maybe right now you want better health, a more satisfying job, more free time for your passions and hobbies, better relationships with your friends or family, or even a better relationship with God. None of those are bad things on their own—but problems arise when we try to achieve those things in the wrong way.

Our society has a lot to say about how to get what we want. “Run toward your dreams!” it says. “Work hard, push yourself, do whatever it takes to succeed!” And really, who hasn’t bought into that before? That if you work hard, you’ll eventually have everything you want? That if you want something to happen, you have to make it happen?

There is some truth in that—we’ll never achieve our purpose by simply drifting through life. That being said, we’ll also never achieve our purpose by trying to force something to happen through our own effort alone.

Galatians 4:23
The son of the slave wife was born in a human attempt to bring about the fulfillment of God’s promise. But the son of the freeborn wife was born of God’s own fulfillment of his promise.

God promises many great things to those who accept Jesus as our Savior: salvation, redemption, eternity with him, purpose and hope—to name a few. But we can’t achieve any of these by our own efforts. When we try to achieve what we want, even things God wants for us, through our own striving instead of trusting in him, the results will always fall short—and often will bring additional problems.

Sometimes we try to achieve God’s approval and his promise of salvation, as well as a better relationship with him, through human effort alone. As Paul says in Galatians 4:9-10, “Why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world? You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.”

Other times, we try to achieve the things we want, or think God wants for us, (the right job, the right spouse, the picture-perfect Christian life) by working hard all on our own. I know, it can be hard to hear, but this will never work.

But don’t worry—that doesn’t mean our hopes are all out of reach, or hopeless, so to speak. We can’t achieve God’s promises by our own efforts, and when we try to force things to happen that aren’t God’s will, it never turns out how we’d hoped. It’s only when we trust in God, living out of his acceptance and promises instead of striving for them, he can do amazing things through us. By living out his will, he is offering us a future with purpose and hope.

Questions:
Are you trying to earn God’s promises through your own efforts and “religious” behavior, or are you acting from a place of trust in his promises?

Is there anything you’re working toward in your life that just isn’t working out? Are you sure God wants it for your life? If you are, are you trying to achieve it by your own means, or are you trusting in God’s plan and power?

Next Steps:
Make a list of what you’re worried about or working to achieve. Sort these into two groups: the things you know God wants for you (things like purpose and opportunities to point others toward him), and the things you think or hope he wants for you (things like a job you applied for or a relationship you’re pursuing). Thank God for the things in the first category. Pray over the things in the second category, being honest with God about what you want, while acknowledging that his plan for your life may be different from yours but is better than yours. Trust that he will fulfill his promises for you—in his timing.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for being a God I can trust. I know that everything you’ve promised me will be fulfilled in your perfect timing. Help me to follow your guidance instead of striving for what I want. Teach me to set aside my worries and to trust your will for my life. In Jesus’ name I pray! Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently an intern at CedarCreek and works part-time at her local library. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Training Wheels

Today’s Bible Reading: Galatians 3

Galatians 3:2-4 (MSG)
Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!

In Galatians 3, Paul is calling out the Galatians for still trying to strictly follow the law of Moses. We can relate to them when we try really hard to be “good Christians,” checking off items on a “to do”list:

  • Go to church every week: Check.
  • Wake up early every day to read the Bible: Check.
  • Volunteer at church events: Check.
  • Donate to charities: Check.

All of these things are good. God calls us to do many of these things. However, it’s when we elevate these actions as being the source of our salvation that the problem presents. No amount of good deeds will allow us to be right with God. We will inevitably mess up at some point.

Galatians 3:21-22
21 Is there a conflict, then, between God’s law and God’s promises? Absolutely not! If the law could give us new life, we could be made right with God by obeying it. 22 But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.

Think about when you were learning to ride your bike. You probably started with training wheels. This allowed you to learn the motions of bike-riding without the risk. One day, you figured out how to hold your balance without them. Remember that feeling, how freeing it was? Now imagine experiencing that, only to go back to using training wheels. We don’t see that happen too much. Without the training wheels, you can go faster, ride more freely, and feel how to steer based off of your inner balance receptors and past experience. When we lessen the importance of our religious checklist and find our salvation and worth solely in Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are free. We can become more attuned with the Holy Spirit, sensing his guidance and direction. Sure, we might fall, but walking with God and leaning solely on his spirit is how we feel life. It’s how we’re guided into something more beautiful than if we had clung to our training wheels.

Galatians 3:24-25
24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

Questions:
What “training wheels” do you find yourself relying on? That is, what religious acts do you mentally check off of your list in hopes to earn God’s grace?

Instead of focusing on our good works, we should focus on tuning in to the Holy Spirit. Would you say you are in tune with the Holy Spirit, or have you had trouble with this?

Next Steps:
Think of how you answered the first question and prayerfully take a look at each item. Ask God to show you which of these he is calling you to continue and which of these are acting as distractions and as false salvation for you. You may end up feeling led to continue all of the things you do, but hopefully with a refreshed sense of where your worth and purpose comes from.

Prayer:
Dear God, please show me the areas in my life where I place more weight in my actions than I do in your freely given salvation. Help me to focus less on works and more on being guided by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that I can always be given direction in what I do. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a stay-at-home mom and wife. She loves writing for this team, and she hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


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Hypocrites Anonymous

Today’s Bible Reading: Galatians 2

Today, one of my friends posted a cartoon about how Christians are hypocrites. The comic said, ”Oh, you go to church and act like the perfect Christian on Sundays, but you talk about people, create drama, judge others, lie and act fake.” Ouch! I am a Christian, but I am a sinner, too. Many times my behaviors don’t match my standards, let alone God’s perfect standards. I do things I know I shouldn’t. The definition of hypocrisy is: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior doesn’t conform.

I need Jesus to change me! I am so thankful his love is based on who he is, and not how I behave.

In Galatians 2, we see Peter acting like a hypocrite and Paul calling him out on it.

Galatians 2:11-13
11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. 12 When we first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. 13 As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

Peter was happy to eat and hang out with the Gentiles, until the Jewish Christians showed up. He was afraid he would be ostracized for spending time with the Gentiles. Some of the Jewish Christians wanted the Gentiles to follow parts of the law, including to be circumcised. Peter was overly concerned with how his friends would react to him hanging out with the Gentiles. He cared more about what his friends thought of him than doing what was right. Peter was a close friend of Jesus, a leader in the church, and even he messed up. (I am so thankful I am not the only one who behaves badly at times.)

Unfortunately, people saw how Peter was acting and thought they should act the same way. Luckily, Paul stepped in and told Peter how wrong his behavior was. If Paul hadn’t called him out on this, it could have led to major divisions in the church. Paul reminded Peter and the others that Jesus came to save both the Jew and Gentile, both circumcised and uncircumcised. You are saved by belief in Jesus, not by following the law.

Galatians 2:16
Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.

Questions:
Are you more focused on the law or on God’s grace? How often do you judge others? How can you behave more like Jesus?

Next Steps:
Take a few minutes and think about times when you are more concerned about popularity than doing what is right. Think about your attitude. Contemplate whether you are legalistic (and maybe a bit of a hypocrite). Pray about this, repent, and ask Jesus to change you.

Prayer:
Jesus, forgive me when I am judgmental of others and behave badly. Please change me! Help me to accept others for who they are and love them. Please let my actions bring glory to you. I am so grateful that you always love me and always forgive me.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Good Guidance

Today’s Bible Reading: Galatians 1

When I moved from my childhood home in Germany to New Zealand at the age of 19 to live there and attend university, it was a big, wonderful, and a bit scary adventure. It was a brand-new chapter in my life in a new place with all new people. I definitely felt at times like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz—I clearly was not in Kansas anymore!

Things were done differently from the way I was used to. Customs were different, the food was different, the way things looked was different, and I was dealing with trying to become truly fluent in English. It took me about two weeks to figure out that “How are you?” was used as a greeting like “Hello,” and people were not actually wanting me to elaborate at that moment how I was. Their puzzled (sometimes annoyed) looks when I told them in detail how things were going should have been a clue, but it took a while to sink in and make sense.

I will be forever grateful for the good guidance of my host family and the kind people in the student hostel who helped me get settled in my new life!

As we start today on a new book in the New Testament, the Epistle of the Galatians (often abbreviated as Galatians), we see that the early Christians also embarked on a new adventure and were also in dire need of good guidance. This letter from Paul to early Christian communities in Galatia was meant to be such guidance. Early Christians were often also referred to as Jewish Christians, and when they decided to follow Jesus their lives were profoundly and forever changed. We have to remember that they did not have a Bible yet to rely on, since the Bible as we know it did not appear until several hundred years later.

Galatians 1:11-12 (NIV)

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelations from Jesus Christ.

Paul reassures them here that when he decided to follow Jesus, he changed his life forever and for the better. He completely abandoned his old life, which even included persecuting the followers of Jesus, and embarked on his new life of walking with Jesus and his Word. In this letter, he is trying to guide them in their new life and to keep them on track. Other than the letters, which eventually became part of the Bible as we know it, information about Jesus and his teachings would have been transmitted orally and thus could have been easily corrupted through multiple iterations passing from person to person. Starting this new life must have been scary and confusing at times. They had old laws and traditions they used to follow, but they now needed to settle into their new lives. I would imagine that Paul’s letter must have been of great comfort and help to them, giving them clear guidance and encouragement.

As we continue on our journey as Christ followers, or embark on it as a brand new follower, we must remember to seek good guidance at all times from others who are further ahead on their path with Christ. And, of course, we now have the advantage of being able to read and study for ourselves all the good guidance provided in the New Testament.

Questions:
Have you recently embarked on the journey of following Christ? Have you found some good guidance along the way? If you are a mature Christian, to whom could you give guidance?

Next Steps:
If you are a new Christian or returning to God, join a Group at CedarCreek to surround yourself with good guidance on your journey. If you are a mature Christian, seek out those who might need guidance and journey alongside them on their new adventure.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for journeying next to me at all times and for guiding me in my new life. Embarking on a new adventure can be scary and exciting at the same time. Thank you for being there and providing me with wisdom to navigate this new path. Please give me clear vision to follow your guidance and accept your plan for my life. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Letter From a Friend

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 13

“If you like to get letters from close, loving friends you will enjoy this last chapter of Hebrews for it affects us as much as it did its original readers,” writes the late pastor Ray Stedman in his IVP commentary on the book of Hebrews. “The great pastoral heart of the writer comes to the fore in his closing words… One by one he touches on the kinds of behavior by Christians which will impress a secularized society with the value and power of Christian truth.” The author of Hebrews says this: “Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)

As I read this verse, I think back to the early days of CedarCreek Church. I thank God for the leaders he gave us in Lee Powell, Steve Korn, and Steve Hutmacher. Those days were exciting, filled with uncertainty, but with a great confidence in the leadings and promises we were convinced God had given us. We were too dumb to know what we didn’t know. We just believed that God had a great plan for us, a purpose that would challenge us and allow us to fulfill our potential. These men demonstrated for this small new church what it meant to love each other, to be hospitable and generous, to be aware of the needs of others, to honor marriage and family, and above all, to trust God for his constant and faithful provision. As a young Christian, these men made an indelible impression upon me, as have the leaders who have risen up in our church over the past 24 years. Later in the chapter, the author writes: “Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” (Hebrews 13:17)

I have been blessed to have been under spiritual leaders who deserve my respect and honor. Through the years, we have discussed, disagreed, discussed some more, and usually come to consensus in a way that honors God and agrees with biblical principles as I understand them. I have honor and respect for the leadership of CedarCreek Church. If you find yourself at odds with your spiritual leaders, speak with them about your concerns. If you cannot agree, find a leader under whom you can serve with joy and contentment. Trust God to lead you in that decision, because it will be for your benefit, as well as for theirs.

Questions:
Do you trust your spiritual leaders? If so, do you support and obey them? Why or why not?

Next Steps:
Take some time this week to thank God for the spiritual leaders he has placed in your life. Write them a note of appreciation and send it.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for the spiritual leaders you have given me. I pray that by your Holy Spirit you would strengthen and encourage them. They have a huge job with unimaginable responsibility, and they will ultimately be accountable to you for how they handle it. Help me be a person who brings life to them. Give me wisdom in ways that I might lighten their burden and help me to act on it, for your glory! Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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How Is Your Run Going?

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 12

There are many awesome things to praise about God, but arguably some of the most excellent are his holiness and love. His unfathomable love is so great that he gave up his throne and was crucified for all humanity. He did it so we can come into his presence and live in heaven for eternity with him. This comes at a price though. Those who are his disciples are to run the race with endurance—meaning, as we move toward the finish line, we may have to endure pain, suffering, trials, and discomfort.

Hebrews 12:1b-2a.

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

In Hebrews 12, the author starts off by talking about running a race. I ran cross country, and it took a lot of discipline to keep going and get to the finish line. I couldn’t stagger while I ran—I had to remain solid and unshakable. Being a runner is not something everyone is willing to do, but I knew that crossing the finish line was worth it. Ultimately, as a disciple of Jesus, you are to keep going toward him, as he is waiting for you at the finish line. It takes discipline and faith as well as endurance and stamina to get there. When things get difficult, keep your eyes on him. Trust that he is the Good Father and that he has your best in mind.

To endure takes continual obedience to him. The prize is eternity with him!

Questions:
How would you describe the way you are currently running toward Jesus?

If your run has come to a stop, what is keeping you from moving forward?

Next Steps:
Reflect on how you have been running toward Jesus. Confess to him if there are things in your life that are distracting you from moving forward.

Tell someone else about your spiritual journey. Let them know where you are and the steps that you plan on taking. Ask them to pray for you and check in on your progress.

Prayer:
Awesome God, thank you for how completely holy you are. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty—your voice shakes the whole earth. It’s amazing to think about how great you are, and yet you have made a way for me to be in your presence. I pray for a proper posture for coming into your presence. Thank you that by your strength I am able to keep running toward Jesus. Lord, I want to be unshakable for you. Thank you for the promise that you are there when I stumble. Keep the distractions away from me so I may focus on you. I know through the power of the Holy Spirit you will keep me grounded. In Jesus name, amen!


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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