A Sacred Bond

Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 5

Acts 5 starts off with a curious story about a husband and wife both being struck dead by God for lying to him. They had sold a piece of property and decided to hold back part of the money before putting the rest at the feet of Peter.

Acts 5:3-4 (NIV)
3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

Peter scolded Ananias for having lied and having held back part of the money. And so Ananias fell down and died. The same happened later to his wife Sapphira when she was asked the same question and chose to lie as well.

This story really resonated with me because I recently have been lied to repeatedly by someone I love. Unfortunately, it completely destroyed my trust in this person. I now constantly ask myself whether this person is telling me the truth during our conversations. Or whether I should still speak to this person at all.

This made me think more about how God must have felt when Ananias and Sapphira lied. Since God knows everything, it must have been very hurtful to him when his children knowingly tried to deceive him. When someone you love lies to you, and you know that it is a lie in that moment, it feels like a stab in the heart. Surely for God, seeing one of his children lie to him must have been immensely painful too. I imagine it also pains him greatly to see us lying to each other because, just as Peter pointed out in Acts 5:4, when we lie to others, we are also lying to God.

In an intimate relationship, emotional honesty allows the other person to know who we are, thus creating a special bond. If we lie, we shatter that sacred bond of trust and lose that intimate connection. It is very important to remember that secrets and lies have serious consequences for our relationships with others, especially for our relationships with those whom we love—and for our relationship with God. Trust is very fragile, and once it is lost, it is hard to regain.

Questions:
Have you recently lied to God, others, or yourself? What were the consequences of your lies?

Has anyone recently lied to you? How did that make you feel? What needs to happen for you to be able to trust that person again?

Next Steps:
If you have lied to someone recently, make a list of steps to take to make amends. Ask for forgiveness. Ask then what you need to do to regain that person’s trust.

If your trust was broken by someone lying to you, ask God to help you heal your heart and find a way to forgive.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for the sacred bond that I have with you and for the trust you have placed in me. Please let me never fail you by lying to you, others, or myself. Please give me strength in my heart to forgive those who broke my trust, and wisdom to see if their attempts to regain my trust and repair our relationship are coming from a true heart. 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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It is Never Too Late for Change

Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 4

I am amazed by the changes Jesus and the Holy Spirit made in the disciple Peter. I always respected Peter because he wasn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone. Once, when he saw Jesus walking on water, he asked Jesus to let him walk on water, too. Peter got out of his boat and walked on water, until he let his fears take over. Once he took his focus off Jesus, he began to sink pretty quickly. Peter was known to act impulsively and recklessly at times. I picture him being a bit arrogant and loud. Peter really loved Jesus, but he is often remembered as the disciple who denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times. I am convinced Peter felt great guilt that he had denied Jesus. Understandably, he was afraid of what would have happen to him, had he admitted being a follower of Jesus.

I love how Acts 4 depicts the changes in Peter. John and Peter were thrown in jail for preaching about the Good News after healing a lame man. The next morning, they were brought before the leaders and asked how they had healed the lame man. Peter spoke so eloquently and boldly, with so much knowledge, that the religious leaders were amazed. (This is the same Peter who was known for constantly putting his foot in his mouth.) Peter was changed; he was a new man. The leaders commanded Peter and John to speak never again of Jesus.

Act 4:19-20
19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we had heard and seen.”

Peter continued to spread the Gospel, and thousands of people were saved. Peter believed so strongly in Jesus and his teachings, he continued to preach even though it put his life in jeopardy. Eventually, Peter would be sentenced to be crucified for spreading the Gospel message. Peter requested to be crucified upside down, because he was not worthy of being crucified in the same way as Jesus.

I am amazed by the changes in Peter! If Jesus can change Peter, he can change you and me. I am so thankful for the peace and hope Jesus has given me. I used to really struggle with worry and anxiety. I have learned to trust Jesus and cast my worries and cares on him. I believe he is in control and has a wonderful plan for my life. I know people can see huge changes in me. When I have the opportunity, I bring glory to God by explaining how he changed me.

Questions:
How has Jesus changed you? Are you willing to step out of your comfort zone for Jesus? When is the last time you shared what God is doing in your life?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the ways Jesus has changed you. Pray for Jesus to help you realize what he wants you to do next. Make a list of his answers. Step out and obey.

Tell someone how Jesus has changed you and remember that sharing our struggles helps others’ faith grow.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so thankful for all you have done for me. I am so grateful for your precious Word. It gives me so much hope to realize how much you changed Peter. Please change me and work through me to accomplish mighty things for your Kingdom. Amen.


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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Is it Time Yet?

Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 3

Today, we read in Acts 3 about how Peter healed a crippled beggar. The beggar had been lame since birth and was brought to the Beautiful Gate daily to beg for money. The gate was called “beautiful” because it was covered in Corinthian brass, which had tarnished over time to reveal splendid colors. On this day, the beggar expected the same as he did every other day: money. Instead, he was the recipient of a miracle, not by his faith, but by the faith of Peter. There was something special about this lame man who God wanted to use as an example.

Acts 3:1-8
1 Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. 2 As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. 4 Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” 7 Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. 8 He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them.

Jesus performed many miracles while he was on Earth and gave power and authority to his 12 apostles to continue his work after his ascension (Luke 9:1-2). One of my observations from this passage is that timing is crucial. A biblical timeline sets Acts 3 in the year 30 AD. If the man had been crippled from birth, he was over 40 years old and a familiar sight at the temple gate. Jesus may have passed him on more than one occasion. Why hadn’t Jesus healed the man while he was alive? Because God’s timing is as important as his will. Greater glory was given to God when Peter healed the beggar through the power of the Holy Spirit in him. Peter did not have all the answers, but he did have Jesus.

Believers today have the same power to help people change their lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. The crippled man would have been satisfied with a monetary donation to support his condition. I sometimes wonder if I am satisfied with my current state because I am willing to settle for less than what God wants to give me. Have I been expecting the wrong things from God?

Another important point to note is that once the crippled man was healed, he did not immediately return home. Instead, he clung to Peter and John and entered the temple jumping and praising God. As new believers, you should surround yourself with other believers, show them how God has changed you, praise him for it, and be ready to share the good news!

Questions:
Are you spiritually crippled, sitting outside of the presence of God? What will it take for you to get up and walk, telling others what God has done for you, and praising him? Do you believe that God can do the unexpected in your life? If not, why?

Next Steps:
You were born at a specific time, in a specific place, and for a specific purpose. Identify what makes this the right moment for you on God’s timeline by reflecting on your talents and experiences. Journal how these could help others and watch how God uses you, through the Holy Spirit, to do great things. Be sure to give credit where credit is due … Jesus Christ!

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to recognize the power of the Holy Spirit in me. Keep me ever mindful of your full potential to do the unexpected through me. Use me today to do things I would never have expected myself to be capable of. Help me to show others that I am different because of your grace. In your Son’s name I pray, Amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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A Bold Comeback

Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 2

Have you ever heard the saying that “the comeback is always greater than the setback”? I’m not sure where that saying originated, but it sums up Peter’s life story in a nutshell! Just last week, we were reading in the book of Mark that Peter, one of those in Jesus’ inner circle, let Jesus down when Jesus had asked him to “stay here and keep watch with me” (14:34). Peter literally fell asleep as his friend was “deeply troubled and distressed” and “crushed with grief to the point of death” (v. 34). To top it off, Peter blatantly denied even knowing Jesus, saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” (v. 68).

But that is not the end of Peter’s story.

Fast forward to the book of Acts where Peter is seen BOLDLY proclaiming the gospel—that Jesus was “nailed to a cross and killed” and that God “raised him back to life” (Acts 2:23-24). He ties in Old Testament Scripture with the truth of the present gospel as he quotes Psalm 16 in Acts 2:26: “My flesh will rest in hope” (HCSB). I find this choice of wording interesting because just a short time ago, Peter’s flesh caused him to stumble in his walk with Christ. But here, Peter is filled with the Spirit, proclaiming that the only way to conquer flesh is through the HOPE that we have in Christ. He’s applying the truth of the Psalms when he quotes, “You have shown me the way of life, and you fill me with joy of your presence” (Acts 2:28). Peter turned back to following and being faithful to Christ and was filled with joy once more because he was again walking with him. He returned to fulfilling his purpose and sharing his all-important message to “repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (v. 38). His message reminds us that this promise and hope is for each one of us, even those who may be “far away” (v. 39).

Did Peter mess up? Yes, he sure did. But that was not the end of his story. That was not the end of his ministry. God went on to use Peter’s boldness to spread the great news of the hope we can have in Christ. Many people accepted Christ and “were added to the church that day” (v. 41), and even more were added as Peter continued faithfully serving God and proclaiming Christ.

Questions:
Have you ever felt like you have “failed” Jesus, let him down, or even denied him? Have you ever felt that your “mess up” has blown your potential future purpose or ministry? Does looking at Peter’s life give you hope that God still has a plan for you?

Next Steps:
Reflect on the hope that we have in the gospel, as it is for all of us. If you’re walking in a season where you, through your life, actions, thoughts, etc., are denying Christ, repent, ask for forgiveness, and turn back to God. He still has a great plan for your life and can use you for his purposes.

Prayer:
Lord, sometimes the many ways I have failed you overshadow the hope that I have in you. Help me to be faithful to you and to trust in the hope that I have in you, namely that you died and rose again for my sins, knowing that my flesh would fail. May my flesh and my soul rest in you. Thank you that you still have a purpose and a plan for my life despite how I have denied you in the past.


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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Now What?

Today’s Bible Reading: Acts 1

I love the start of new things: new days, new months, new years. Sure, Feb. 1 doesn’t carry the same level of motivation as Jan. 1, but the start of any month feels so full of opportunity to me—to evaluate the past month, set goals for the next few weeks, and get excited for whatever God has planned next.

In today’s LivingItOut, we’re starting the month with our next book of the Bible: The Acts of the Apostles. Acts is the only book in the Bible that records the growth of the Christian church immediately after Jesus’ ascension. In Acts, we see a movement that didn’t have a lot going for it. One that probably should have quickly died off, but instead, as we got to read in Acts, it took off.

What do I mean by “not a lot going for it”? Well, Christianity was a relatively new, untested religion. Its leaders, the apostles, were not terribly experienced (and not exactly well-funded either). It carried a message of hope, but with that came harsh teachings that some people didn’t want to hear. And followers of Christianity faced serious persecution.

To this point, Christianity’s greatest strength had been Jesus. People were drawn to him: his love, wisdom, teachings, and miracles.

And in the first chapter of Acts, Jesus up and left.

Acts 1:8-9
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After saying this, he was taken up into a cloud while they were watching, and they could no longer see him.

If I’d been one of the apostles, my next statement would’ve been, “Now what?” Sure, Jesus had just done some amazing things, and the apostles had every reason to have faith in him, but like I said, the Christian church had a lot going against it. Personally, I would’ve been intimidated.

Maybe you’re at a place where you’re wondering, “Now what?” or “What’s next?”

It could be that you’re going through a rough patch. Or you received some bad news, and you’re not sure how to deal with it. It could be that things have been really great, but you don’t have a lot of clarity on where to go from here. Or maybe you’ve been stuck in the same place for a while, and there doesn’t seem to be any change in sight.

In these moments, we can learn a lot from the apostles. The apostles had a lot of things working against them, but they knew that Jesus was for them. Instead of panicking, worrying about what they were going to do next or how they were going to do it, or trying to accomplish the tasks before them on their own, they trusted that Jesus was in control. They stayed united, they waited as Jesus had told them to (Acts 1:4), and they prayed.

Acts 1:14
They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus.

Whatever we’re facing, we can’t accomplish it on our own. Fortunately, we don’t have to. We have a community of believers in the local church to do life with, and with God, we can accomplish anything.

Questions:
In what area of your life are you wondering either “Now what?” or “What’s next?”

Next Steps:
When facing a “Now what?” moment, follow the example of the apostles.

Stay united with the people who are with you on your spiritual journey (your family, close friends, your Group). Let them know what you’re going through, whether it’s good or bad. Pray. Ask God for his guidance and wisdom.

If you’re not clear on what step to take or where God is leading you, wait! God is with us, but we must be with him and follow his will for our lives instead of hoping he’ll bless our will.

And once you have clarity on your next step, trust that God is in control, and act.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the miracle of your church. It flourished even with so much working against it, because it was from you. We place our trust in you, God. We know that as long as you are with us, nothing can stand against us. When we’re unsure where you are leading us next, teach us to turn our eyes to you. Give us your guidance and wisdom. Then, when it’s time to move, give us the faith and courage to act. May your will be done in us and through us. 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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What on Earth are You Up To?

Today’s Bible Reading: Mark 16

Mark 15:44-47
44 Pilate couldn’t believe that Jesus was already dead, so he called for the Roman officer and asked if he had died yet. 45 The officer confirmed that Jesus was dead, so Pilate told Joseph he could have the body. 46 Joseph bought a long sheet of linen cloth. Then he took Jesus’ body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus’ body was laid.

Mark 16:2-8
2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they (v. 47 above) went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. 5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.” 8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

Right up to the death of Jesus, his followers believed that all of scripture pointed to his life being the work and mission of the Messiah. That ended, in their minds, when he hung on the cross that Friday afternoon. Little did they know that Jesus’ death was the beginning of the culmination of God’s redemptive plan. Jesus rose from the dead on the third day and defeated death—the ultimate consequence of our sin.

But the women’s response did not reflect that victory! Why not? Everything happened just as Jesus had told them in the months and weeks prior to this event. Did they hear his words but not believe? Did they not hear his words because they didn’t want to hear them? Were their ideas of how this was all supposed to work out interfering with the reality of what did happen?

I think: all of the above! I have found (in my advanced years!) that I hear what I want to hear, believe that I am correct in my thinking, and that my desired outcome is the proper way things should resolve. But God had this all planned out way before I arrived for my short role on the scene, and I have found out, often the hard way, that his plan is better than mine, as the women at the tomb soon discovered.

This reminds me that my willingness to trust God determines my capacity to reimagine my best life. When circumstances arise that cause me to wonder what God is up to, I choose to trust that he is good, that he loves me, that his plans for me offer me my best life, whether I understand how I might arrive there or not. My favorite song right now is from Hillsong United, the chorus of which says, “I am chosen, not forsaken. I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me. I am who you say I am.” When I live in the truth of that, my best life is before me!

Questions:
Do you trust God in all the crazy circumstances of your life? Can you imagine your best life possible as intended by God?

Next Steps:
Spend some time this week listing all the ways how God has shown up for you in the past and thanking him for those times.

List the things that concern you right now and then re-read your list from above to remind you that God will be there for you.

Relax!

Prayer:
Abba Father, how grateful I am to be your child. That I can know that you are for me and not against me. I pray today that you would increase my trust in your amazing plan for my life, and that I would embrace your plan for my life with new confidence. I am who YOU say I am! 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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If I Could Only (Re)Imagine

Today’s Bible Reading: Mark 15

Have you ever found yourself wishing, “If only I was different”? Perhaps you wish you were better educated, but “no,” you tell yourself, you’re not smart enough. Or you wish you were kinder or more generous, but you’re always too busy and too broke. Maybe you find yourself wishing you had been a better parent, but your kids are grown and gone so that ship has sailed.

In other words, do you ever feel that no matter how much you try, you’re never good, clever, pretty, athletic, or ‘you name it’ enough to deserve love, peace, or acceptance? Unfortunately, whatever you think your deficiency is, you’re probably right. The fact is no one measures up or feels worthy of love, respect, success, or being useful to God. Why? Because we aren’t. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

In 2002, Rick Warren wrote a wildly popular book called, The Purpose Driven Life. The first two sentences in the book are, “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.” Why do you suppose that is? Rick Warren is right: if you have admitted to and repented for your sins and if you believe Christ paid the terrible price that day so long ago to set you free from your just punishment for those sins, you now belong to the one true God. Your life can now be bigger and more fulfilling than you can ever have imagined or achieved.

How is that possible? As Mark reports in chapter 15 of his gospel: Jesus, a completely innocent man, stood in our place and was mocked, beaten, spit on, and whipped within one lash of his human life. He carried all our sins to the cross at Golgotha, the hill where all the Roman crucifixions took place in this area, and died for those sins. When Jesus rose from the dead, he made it possible for all of our lives to change forever.

He did that for you personally. He died to pay the just penalty for your sins so you could become a new creation. In other words, when you allow yourself to trust God, admit to and repent for your sins and accept Jesus’ gift, he will send the Holy Spirit in his name to be with you as he promised the disciples in John 14:1-31. Then your life will be moving into an ever deeper relationship with God.

There it is—that’s why you can re-imagine who you are and what you can be. You can be someone no longer controlled by your sinful nature because the Holy Spirit lives in you to guide, guard, and counsel you. The Spirit battles your sinful nature as you continue to grow as a new creation in Christ for the rest of your life here and on into eternity.

So re-imagine away. Ask God to show and tell you about the person he had in mind when he meticulously designed you and gave you life. Then embrace it.

Questions:
Do you understand the need for salvation? What is it and how can you obtain it? If you haven’t acknowledged your need for salvation because of your sinful nature, if you haven’t asked for forgiveness from God and accepted Christ as the only way to a loving relationship with God, why have you not?

Next Steps:
Take five minutes and begin to reimagine what God can do through you. Journal about the things that come to your mind and trust God with your future potential. If you have trouble imagining how God can use you, consider taking GrowthTrack.

Prayer:
Thank you Lord for loving me so much you chose to die that I might live. Lord, please grant me your grace and give me faith to accept Christ as the perfect payment for my wretched sins. Help me to seek you daily and listen for and obey the leading of your Holy Spirit in all my actions, reactions, thoughts, and words. In the name of my savior, Jesus Christ, I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Preckler and the LIO team. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.


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Let Vision Guide You

Today’s Bible Reading: Mark 14:32-72

The events experienced by Christ in Mark 14:32-72 are difficult (for me) to fathom. These events do NOT include his crucifixion— – they are events leading up to his crucifixion.

In verse 32, we see Jesus overwhelmed with sorrow. He knows what is ahead of him, and what he will have to endure in the hours ahead leading to his death on the cross.

This past weekend Ben shared that vision allows our future potential to guide our present dilemma. I can’t think of a worse “present dilemma” than what Jesus was experiencing at that moment. Yet even though knowing what was awaiting him and being deeply distressed and troubled by it, he did not let those feelings guide him.

Personally, I let my feelings, fears, and regrets guide me through dilemmas more often than I would like to admit. Sometimes I let fear keep me from accepting a new challenge at work. Other times I let past hurts or regrets keep me from developing a deeper level of friendship with others. Most often when I encounter a dilemma, I let my feelings guide me more than I should. For example, as a parent, it’s my anger, frustration or disappointment in them guiding the way I discipline my children. Each time that I let feelings, fear, and regret guide me, I am reminded that they are horrible guides. They don’t lead me out of my dilemma, and they certainly don’t lead to future potential.

Through Jesus’ prayer in Mark 14:35-36, we see a glimpse into what can move us past our present dilemma and into future potential.

Mark 14:35-36
35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 “Abba, Father,” he cried out, “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

In Jesus’ most overwhelming moment he focused on the vision that God had for him and mankind. A vision that would make it possible for us to have a relationship with him. He looked past the present dilemma and into the future potential that was God’s will for us to be redeemed.

What a fantastic example for us to follow. When we are overwhelmed by our present situations or the difficulties ahead, look for the bigger vision that God has for you and let it be your guide to your future potential.

Questions:
What stood out to you from today’s reading in Mark 14:32-72? Did you learn a truth about God from today’s reading? Is there a command that you need to pay attention to and obey? What is the greater vision God has for your life?

Next Steps:
List the current dilemmas that you find yourself going through? Under each dilemma, write down what is guiding you through it? Pray and ask God to help you see the vision that will lead you to future potential.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father. I thank you for Jesus and for the example he gave us to follow as he lived here on Earth. He saw the vision and plan you had for his life and for my life, and he allowed that to guide his steps. I pray that as I go throughout this week, that I will let your plan for my life be the guide to all that I do. Amen.


This post was written by the LivingItOut Bible Study Team.


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Trust Him!

Today’s Bible Reading: Mark 14:1-31

In today’s reading, Jesus twice predicts his own immediate future. First, he praises the woman who pours precious perfume over his head (verse 3), noting that she had done a “beautiful thing” to him to prepare him for his burial. Second, during the last supper, he states that he will not be drinking wine again until he is in the kingdom of God (verse 25), thus foreshadowing his own death.

Mark 14:24-25 (NIV)
24 “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. 25 “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

I cannot even fathom what it must have been like for Jesus to be aware of his upcoming fate. As we will see in tomorrow’s reading, he was clearly struggling with it when he was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. But yet in the end, he chose to trust God and reimagine his life following his death and resurrection. By doing so, he allowed God to do amazing things through him as God had planned all along.

In this past weekend’s message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about how our willingness to trust God determines our capacity to reimagine our best life. When we trust God in who we are and where he is taking us, we are able to reimagine what life could be like. On the flip side, if we do not trust, we cannot imagine where we are going.

So the next time you feel like your life is spinning out of control, or when you feel helpless, when you do not know what to do to turn your life around and get it back on track, pause and pray. Pray that you can let go of trying to do it all by yourself. Admit you need help to fix what is going wrong in your life. Then in your heart decide to trust him. Just like Jesus decided to trust God to work miracles through his sacrifice. Just like Jesus reimagined his life after his death as sitting by God’s side. When we have God by our side and he is walking with us hand-in-hand, there is always hope. When we trust him, he will not only allow us to reimagine our best life, but by trusting him, we are also inviting Jesus to equip us so that he may do amazing things through us for others.

Questions:
Is your life going in the direction you would like it to? If not, have you paused and asked God why and to help you? Have you admitted that you will need his help and the help of others to steer you back to the right course?

Do you know someone who may need your help to reimagine their best life?

Next Steps:
List the main things that you are unhappy about in your life. Write down what you would rather like your life to be in these areas. Then list the necessary steps you will need to take to get from how things are now to how you would like them to be.

Prayer:
Dear Father, please help me trust you so that I might reimagine my life as my best life possible—the life you have planned for me. Please let me admit to myself where my life is going in the wrong direction and that I will need your help and the help of others to turn things around. Give me the strength and courage to take the necessary steps to fix my life with your help so that I may live my best life possible. 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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Step Out in Faith

Today’s Bible Reading: Mark 13

In this week’s LivingItOut we will be finishing the book of Mark. Today, we read Mark 13 which shares a collection of prophecies that Jesus had revealed to his four closest disciples. One prophecy was about the precious temple being destroyed. Upon hearing this, they initially doubted Jesus, but later, they asked questions about how and when it would happen (Mark 13:4).

The disciples did not understand the significance of what Jesus had said because they had not experienced the full story of God yet. They did not have vision beyond what they could see in front of them. They saw it through the lens of their culture and society rather than through the lens of faith in God. In their day, temple worship was at the center of society. For Jesus to say that it would be destroyed was blasphemous. Jesus had a greater purpose in what he was saying—he would become the center of their lives not the temple.

In Jewish culture, they knew sin had to be atoned before coming to God, so they would offer a sacrifice at the temple. Jesus knew that they would no longer need to continue making sacrifices. He had come to bring a new era filled with a new way of life consisting of love and an affectionate relationship with the Father. He would be the sacrificial lamb that would atone for their sins and the sins of the entire world.

Psalms 37:4-5
4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. 5 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

People nowadays still view faith through the lens of culture and society instead of our relationship with Jesus. A societal norm when it comes to faith is to follow after emotions instead of what God says is true. I am not saying that feelings are evil, but they should not control us and dictate our decisions. As Ben mentioned this weekend, feelings like fears and regrets make horrible guides.

By allowing your feelings to run your life, you might end up in a direction you would rather not be going. Stepping out in faith means you might not understand the fullness of what God is calling you to do. God wants you to trust him and not lean on your own understanding—he will lead you in the right direction. Because God is faithful and loving, you can step out in faith even when you don’t understand.

In our world that is filled with emotion, we point fingers, follow what others say, and pick at God’s Word. But when we know God’s story, we can trust his Word and tell others about Jesus by showing his love. When you truly worship God in this way, he is going to take you in the right direction—the direction you may never have thought you could go.

Questions:
What holds you back from trusting God? Do you get caught up in societal norms or do you follow God’s truth? Is it hard for you to love others and tell them about Jesus?

Next Steps:
Step out in faith when you know God is leading you to do something. Tell people about him.

Prayer:
God, thank you for how faithful you are. Thank you that I can come before you because of your son, Jesus. I pray that you would make the truth known about who you are. It is so easy to lose sight of who you are in this world which is constantly pressuring us to follow emotion and what everyone else is doing. I don’t want to lose sight of you because I am trusting that you won’t fail me. I am going to take a step of faith wherever you lead me, even though I don’t fully understand. Even though this is hard, I am trusting that you’re going to make it work in my life. Amen!


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a first-time 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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