A Missing Key to Being Your Best

Recently, Popular Mechanics celebrated their 110th year of existence by publishing 110 predictions for the next 110 years. It is fascinating to see how people dream about the future. Lists like these are always full of predictions of amazing new inventions that will save us time by making our lives more manageable and less stressful.

This particular list predicts that in the next 110 years, our clothes will clean themselves. Imagine that! What could be done with all this freed-up time?

The reality is that no matter what new invention, plan, or idea is introduced into our lives, we will still find a way to fill our schedules. Most of us are really good at finding ways to fill every hour, every evening, and every weekend with something to do. Important or not, we make it a priority to be doing something all the time.

From the very beginning, God knew this about us. In Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we read about God creating the universe and everything in it. After each day of creation, God said, “It is good.”. At the end of the sixth day when people were created, he said, “It is very good.”.

Genesis 1:31

31 Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day.

The story of creation does not end at day six though. There is a seventh day in Genesis’ account of creation. It is on that day that we see God rest. Not because he needed to, but because he knew the importance of rest in our lives and chose to model it for us.

Genesis 2: 1-3

1 So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.

Generations after the creation story, we find another story in the Bible where God again elevates the importance of rest. The nation of Israel had been enslaved by Egypt for 400 years. They worked day after day, enduring harsh conditions with little rest. But after 400 years, God worked and moved, and he led his people out of Egypt. They were no longer physically enslaved. However, being slaves is all they knew how to do. They needed to find freedom from their mindset of slavery. They needed to learn how to be free.

Their mindset was to work, work, work with little or no rest. But God’s plan that he modeled for us in the creation story was for us to work and rest. This is why we see rest as part of the 10 commandments in Exodus.

Exodus 20:8-10a

8 Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work…”

At your campus this weekend, your speaker shared this bottom line truth with you: To be your BEST, pause and REST.

I think deep down, we all believe this to be true, but for whatever reason, we keep going through life tired and exhausted. Knowing we are not at our best, but hoping it is good enough.

God knew the importance of rest, and that is why we see him both model it and command it. We hope that you will take a step in the area of rest and that you will evaluate the importance of it in your life.

Over the next four days, we will cover the R.E.S.T. acronym from this past weekend’s service. As you learn how to apply it in your life, we believe you will learn to pause and rest so that you can be your best.

Questions:
What keeps you from rest? How have you seen the negative consequences of lack of rest in your life? How would your life be different if you were rested?

Next Steps:

Commit to making rest a priority in your week. Begin planning out your weeks with a day of rest included. Complete this week’s LivingItOut and apply R.E.S.T. to your week.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you so much for caring so much about my well-being that you command me to rest so that I may be at my best for you and for those whom I love. Thank you for showing us what rest should look like and giving us opportunities to incorporate rest into our schedule. 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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Bubbling Over

A few years ago, my wife and I were in the small living room at my uncle’s fishing cabin in Tennessee. A 2-liter bottle of soda that was perched on an end table fell to the floor and bounced toward the fireplace. There, a sharp corner of a brick pierced the bottle near one end. It proceeded to spin like a pinwheel, spraying soda everywhere. In panic mode, we set about stopping the spray and cleaning up the mess. But what had happened?? Well, that bottle was filled with carbonation (carbon dioxide), and when agitated and provided with an opening, it bubbled out from the bottle not caring where it landed.

This describes our relationship with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives within those who have received Christ as the forgiver of their sins and the leader of their lives. When we are obedient to God’s will and surrender ourselves to the influence of the Holy Spirit, we can demonstrate this to him by singing! Paul writes about this in Ephesians:

Ephesians 5:17-19

Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  

The obedience and surrender is the “agitation” that excites the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit bubbles out in our life through song. That worship, praise, and testimony “spray” everywhere. When this happens, we connect with God in a way that is supernatural. From a surrendered heart, the Holy Spirit moves us to sing a song that rises to the heart of God. We are moved to sing songs that focus on who God is in his character and his holiness.  We are moved to sing songs about what he has done for us and how he continues to move in our lives.

Even those of us who can’t sing, give voice to song at the urging of the Holy Spirit. I love the Newsboys arrangement of “In Christ Alone”. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsgwfliQoqg.

Many times as I study and pray, this song comes to my heart, and I sing:

In verse 1, I sing of Jesus as my hope, my life, my strength, and my song. He is my cornerstone, the solid ground that will keep me through the highs and lows in life. He is my all in all. I stand in the love of Christ.

In verse 2, I sing of Jesus coming to earth as a baby. A gift of love that would be scorned by the ones He came to save. On the cross He died and my every sin was laid upon Him.  (I am typically crying about now…) I live in the death of Christ.

In verse 3, I sing of his resurrection and his victory over death. As a result sin’s curse has lost its grip on me. I am his and he is mine. I am bought with the precious blood of Christ.

In verse 4, I sing of freedom from fear and guilt and the power of Christ in my life. He commands my destiny. No power in the universe can separate us. Until he returns or calls me home I’ll stand in the power of Christ.

Even now as I sing this song, my heart overflows within me. It carries a special message from my heart to the heart of God the Father and God the Son. It rises from and is powered by the Holy Spirit. This song expresses the greatness of my Savior and his love for me. It speaks of the great price he paid for me and that he will never let me go!! It gives testimony to my new life with him and the power by which I live!!! Hey…am I bubbling??

Questions:

When you pause and consider who God is and what he has done for you, are you prompted to sing? If so, what do you sing about and to whom do you sing?

What songs move your heart and connect you to God in a supernatural way?

Next Steps:

Identify songs that have a message about the character and work of God that move your heart. Put those songs on a playlist or download them for easy listening. Then when you pause to consider your relationship with God, play and sing those songs.

For a full playlist of songs from our Pause series, search for CedarCreek Worship on Spotify.

Share your favorite of those songs with your group. Talk with them about the words and what they mean to you and your relationship with God. Encourage them to express their love for God through song so they can connect with him in this special way.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for the gift of music and how it helps me connect with you in a way that nothing else can. I pray that my heart will desire an understanding of your will and surrender to the Holy Spirit, so that I can bubble over with joy in the songs that magnify you. In Jesus’s name, amen.


This post was written by Terry McGraner. Terry is an engineer at Dana Corporation. He facilitates GrowthTrack and leads a Group at the South Toledo campus. He is married and the father of four adult sons. He loves spending time with his family and communicating the truth of God’s Word to make an impact in the lives of others.


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Run Out of That Grave

I was saved quite a long time before I really knew Jesus. I believed he had died for my sins, that God raised him from the dead, and that I was saved. Sadly, I wasn’t living in the victory I had in Jesus. I wasn’t living in the joy, peace, hope, and grace that he had given and that I had accepted.

It was not until later that I learned that if I wanted to experience Jesus’ victory in my life, I needed to make a daily decision to pause and spend time with him. I did this by praying, reading the Bible, listening to him, worshiping and praising him daily. I have been so blessed by my quiet time with Jesus. I feel his peace so strongly. I have found that praising and worshiping God helps make my days go much better because I have first focused on him.

There are many ways you can worship, but I know it warms God’s heart when we worship him by singing. When I sing to God, my body starts moving, my lips are smiling, and I am focused on the one who loves you and me more than we can ever imagine. (I hope my singing sounds better to God than it does to others.)

One of my favorite words to describe God is glorious. Please take a moment to listen to the song before reading on (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfzpfqrPUDo).

Synonyms for glorious include celebrated, acclaimed, honored, magnificent, and triumphant. I love the song “Glorious Day”! This song reminds me how glorious God is and how he brought victory into my life by defeating the grave. “Glorious Day” starts out reminding me that before Jesus:

 

I was buried beneath my shame,

Who could carry that kind of weight

It was my tomb

Till I met you.

I was breathing but not alive

All my failures I tried to hide

It was my tomb

Till I met You

YOU CALLED MY NAME

AND I RAN OUT OF THAT GRAVE

OUT OF THE DARKNESS

INTO YOUR GLORIOUS DAY

Now your mercy has saved my soul

Now your freedom is all I know

The old made new

Jesus when I met you

 

When the song comes to the part where the tempo gets faster and the words are sung, “You called my name / and I ran out of that grave / out of the darkness / into your glorious day,” my heart leaps for joy because I am so grateful and thankful for all God has done for me. He has saved me from the grave and changed me. Honestly, if he would have just died on the cross, I would be forever grateful, but he did so much more than that… he called you and me into his glorious day. I think this means he wants us to experience his majesty, his presence, his love, joy hope, faithfulness, and peace at all times. He has made us a new creation through our belief in Jesus.

God’s plan wasn’t just to save us from hell and let us spend our eternity in heaven with him. He wants us to experience him while we are on earth through his Holy Spirit and to live a victorious life.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone, and a new life has begun!

 

1 Corinthians 15:57

But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Questions:

What is your favorite worship song? Why? What have you learned about Jesus through the song? What is your favorite word to describe Jesus? What is your favorite way to worship God?

 

Next Steps:

Pause and really listen to worship music. Let the music soften your heart and help you be grateful to God. Write out the words of your favorite worship song and make it a personal prayer to God. Speak to others about the hope you have in Jesus. Take time daily to spend time with Jesus and deepen your relationship with him.

Prayer:

Jesus, you are the victor! You defeated Satan on the cross. You love me that much. I am so grateful. You are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and you still want an intimate close relationship with me. I am so humbled that you care that much about me. Help me to make you the priority in my life and forgive me when I get distracted by this world. Help me to pause and turn to you always. I love and praise you. 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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I Am a Child of God

I grew up in a musical family—we all learned to play instruments (I play the piano and the recorder), and we regularly sang or made music together, especially at Christmas time. Growing up in Germany, I was exposed to the traditional Christian hymns in the Protestant church we attended. Imagine sitting in a 17th or 18th century church with high ceilings and hand-painted depictions from the Bible on the walls and the ceiling. Beautifully carved woodwork adorned the altar and the pulpit. These churches are not museums, despite their age, but are still used by the local communities every week. When the congregation sang the hymns, the sound would swell in a beautiful fashion all around you, amplified by the clever architecture designed to do exactly that. It felt special. But yet, looking back, I never really felt connected by these songs to God despite my love for singing.

When I came to CedarCreek about 1 ½ years ago, it was the first time that I heard modern Christian songs, and it was the first time I heard them in English. But I instantly connected with these songs, and singing them made me feel directly connected to God. It is a wonderful feeling but hard to describe. It almost feels to me like there is an invisible thread from my heart that goes upwards straight to God, which tugs at me as I am singing. And then the feeling of connection spreads like a flame all through my chest and through my arms and finally my legs all the way to the ground. Singing during service definitely makes my heart feel now (unlike before) connected to something bigger than me.

This week, we are talking about how singing to God and worshiping him this way can connect us to him. Yesterday’s contribution discussed a song that teaches us about who God is, and today, I will introduce you to a song that teaches us about who God says we are: “Who You Say I Am” by Ben Fielding and Reuben Morgan.

VERSE 2

Free at last

He has ransomed me

His grace runs deep

While I was a slave to sin

Jesus died for me

Yes He died for me

 

CHORUS 2

Who the Son sets free

Oh is free indeed

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

In my Father’s house

There’s a place for me

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

I love the lyrics of this song because they make me feel at home. They teach us that no matter who we are and what we have done, we are, and always will be, children of God. He sets us free, and there is always a place for us in his house.

These lyrics remind me a lot of how my 8-year old daughter will occasionally get mad at me, as children that age do, for saying “No” to something (most recently: “No, we cannot have fresh cherries right now because they are not in season and thus hideously expensive!”). She then ignores me or tells me that she can’t hear me because I apparently no longer exist in her mind. But before too long, she comes running back and wraps her arms around me really tightly, tells me that she’s sorry for being mad, and says that she loves me. We are like that in God’s eyes—sometimes we may turn away from him, but deep down, we know that as soon as we decide to return, he will be there, waiting for us with open arms and all his love. Because we are, and will always be, children of God.

Questions:

When was the last time that you sang in church? If you did not sing, why not?

Were you afraid that your voice might not be in tune? Do you think it would matter to God whether you were singing in tune or not?

Next Steps:

Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKw6uqtGFfo and take some time to listen to today’s song. Read the lyrics and think about how they make you feel. Write some notes on who God thinks that you are in his eyes. Next time you are in church, sing with abandon, or if that is still too scary, at least mouth the words to help you connect with God during the song.

Prayer:

Dear father in heaven, thank you for giving me the joy of singing and for providing me with the opportunity to worship you and connect with you this way. Thank you for giving the gift of music to those women and men who have written and performed such beautiful songs that help us connect with you. Thank you for all the songs that bring love, joy, and peace to our hearts. 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 Lutheran 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 and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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Your Love is Loyal

I grew up listening to Southern Gospel music, particularly a band called “The Nelons.” My mom and my grandpa introduced me to the band’s music, and it became a shared interest. I would belt out the music, singing about God and how wonderful he is. It introduced me to a way that I could worship God through my voice and my body while dancing along.

Singing to God is a way we can experience connection with him instead of only studying about him. He is not just confined to the Bible—he is living. And if you find the style of worship music that speaks to you, it can have a special way of allowing you to experience his Spirit. I have since expanded my musical palette, and I am really loving Lauren Daigle’s music. Her song “Loyal” invites us to worship God, pointing out ways that he is worthy of our praise. When I worship through this song, I’m not only causing him delight, but also reminding myself of his glory. In this simple act, I am strengthening my connection with God.

I would encourage you to take a moment to listen to the song before reading on (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9JCfVyq1eI).

In her song, she is praising God for the following amazing attributes:

  • God will never change.
    • Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
  • His love is loyal, and he is faithful, keeping his promises. His love doesn’t waver when we have problems.
    • Deuteronomy 7:9: “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.”
  • He is always there for us. He listens when we talk to him.
    • 1 John 5:14-15: “14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. 15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
  • He knows our hearts, even the things we hide.
    • Psalm 44:21: “God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.”
  • And yet, he gives us grace.
    • Romans 3:24: “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

 

God knows the power of music. There’s something about it that is different than speaking the words alone. It also connects to our memory differently. Worshiping this way really is a whole-body experience. And God wants to share that experience with you!

 

Psalm 100:1-3

1Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! 2Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. 3Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

 

Questions:

This weekend, Ben taught us that singing connects our hearts to something bigger than us. Who are you singing to (and what are you singing about) with the music you usually listen to?

What style of music is your favorite? Who could you listen to so that you may be able to worship God through their music?

Have you experienced God through music before? How did it make you feel?

Next Steps:

Think of a worship song that praises God for his amazing attributes. Find one that fits the genre of music you can most easily sing (and dance) to, and try listening in the car! Make a choice to sing to God—it doesn’t matter how well you sing. As long as you sing with your heart, you can strengthen your connection to God.

Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for the gift of music. It is so amazing to be able to experience your Spirit moving inside of me as I sing to you. You are constant, loyal, faithful, and unwavering. You are always there for me, ready to listen. You know my heart better than I know it myself. And you still love me. You are so much more than I deserve. 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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Sing!

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” – Martin Luther.

I have always enjoyed music. One of my favorite times of the day is turning up the volume in the house to sing and dance with my kids. Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off” is the current favorite of my daughter Ruby, who will walk into the room and ask our Alexa device to play “Shake it Off” over and over and over again. The dance party would go on for days, if we let her.

Music is something that transcends cultures, languages, and people. It has been enjoyed since the beginning of mankind and will continue to be enjoyed until the end. What is it about music, though, that is so enjoyable? Why should we enjoy music?

This past weekend, Ben Snyder continued our series Pause by discussing how music allows us to pause and connect with God and others. More specifically, he suggested that singing connects our hearts to something bigger than ourselves.

It’s not just singing alone, either. In 2013, Time Magazine reported, “Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins,” which is reason enough to consider singing in a group. It’s not just good for us physiologically, though, singing together is something God designed us to do for our spiritual life.

In Ephesians 5:17-20, Paul writes,

17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This particular passage is specific to the church in Ephesus, but we can observe a few things. First, in encouraging the Ephesians to act according to God’s will, he reminds them to not fill their lives with pointless and harmful actions (like drunkenness) but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. But how? One way is to sing! He invites the Ephesians—and us—to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs or to sing to God, about God, and about our relationship with God.

In this act of group singing, we connect with the heart of God and with the hearts of those around us—because the God with whom we’re connecting also lives in the hearts of all of those around us as we worship together in song! Or, as Ben said, “the power in the pause is remembering the one who lives in me”.

Questions:

Do you enjoy singing with other followers of Jesus? Why or why not? How does singing with others make you feel inside?

Next Steps:

Find a way to incorporate more group singing into your daily life. Add singing to the activities of your CedarCreek Group, to your family prayer time, and wherever else you may find an opportunity.

For a full playlist of songs from our Pause series, search for CedarCreek Worship on Spotify.

Prayer:

Father in Heaven, thank you for the gift of singing. Help me to know that each time I sing with others to and about you, I’m connecting with your heart and with the hearts of those around me. Help me to do this more and more each day. I ask this in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, amen.


This post was written by Andy Rectenwald. Andy has a passion for bringing the Bible to life for people, for Christian Apologetics, and for the Cleveland Indians. He is married with two young children.


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Are You Listening?

I am so blessed! I have a God who loves and adores me. He is with me at all times through his Spirit. I have a wonderful, loving, and supportive husband. I have two amazing, funny, and spirited daughters whom I adore. I have friends who are open, honest, truthful, wise, and fun. I consider this whole mixture of people, “My People”, as author Shauna Niequist would say. God often speaks to me through my people. They hold me accountable, speak truth into my life, pray for me, support me, and give me good advice.

I have been going through a tough time lately. I had an event happen that rocked my world, and God has helped me so much to deal with it. Sometimes, I feel scared and have no idea what to do next. When times are tough, I pause and cry out to God. I have also needed my people a lot, for their support and advice. I have learned to listen to their advice, and then, I pause and ask, “Is the advice supported by Scripture? Is following this advice really what is for the best?” I pray to Jesus and ask for his wisdom, and then I pause and listen. The beauty of the pause is that it allows me to hear the voice of the one who gives us peace. When I am filled with anxiety and stressed, I pause again. I have learned when I don’t have peace, and I am probably not doing what God wants me to do. I pray about it and wait. I know I am on the right track if I am experiencing his peace no matter what the circumstances are in my life.

 

James 3:17 NIV

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere.

 

I love that God speaks to me through other people. Sometimes, it is my family and friends. What cracks me up is when God speaks to me through someone I would never expect. It could be a teacher, a stranger, a preacher, a waitress, a child, or someone I don’t care for. A long time ago, God spoke to me through a priest. My mom died tragically when I was sixteen. The next five years were horrendous. I was so hurt, lonely, angry, and anxious. I was so desperate for help that I went and spoke to a Priest. He told me that he could feel my anxiety. That my anxiety was like a person dragging their nails down a chalkboard. He told me, “You can’t go this alone, you have to let other people help. God works through other people.” I believe God works through others by actions and words. This was over thirty years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. I have learned to stop, pause, and listen for God’s voice. It can be heard through prayer, Scripture memorization, his Word, or someone else. I would bet if you aren’t hearing God’s voice, it is because you aren’t listening. I know I have a terrible time listening when I am overwhelmed, frantic, distracted, or busy. Unfortunately, in our culture, busy is a lifestyle. I believe we are missing God’s voice because we are too busy to hear it. Please, pause and listen. I am sure God wants to speak his amazing peace over you.

Questions:
Are you listening for God to speak in your life? What changes can you make in your life so you have time to pause and listen for him to speak? How has God spoken to you recently?

Next Steps:
Think about the ways God has spoken to you in the past. Write some of them down. Focus on what you were doing when you heard his voice. Pray to God and ask for his wisdom. Read the Bible and pray to hear God’s voice while you read. Memorize Scripture verses that make you feel that Jesus is talking directly to you. Listen for God to speak to you through others.

Prayer:
God, you are amazing! I am overwhelmed that you love me so much! You, my holy and glorious God, you desire to have an intimate relationship with me. Thank you for speaking to me through prayer, the Bible, memorized Scripture verses, and other people. Please help me always to hear your voice. Help me to pause, listen, and obey. Please help me to have you as my main focus. Help me to grow closer and closer to you. 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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Memorize This!

When we pause, we have an opportunity to hear his voice. Today we are going to look at how God speaks to us through scripture memorization.
 As children, most of us played at some point “follow the leader.” Being a follower was all right, but let’s be honest, being a leader was the most fun—you got to create imaginative paths and actions for everyone to copy. Today, we “follow” in 140 character sequences on Twitter. Often without a real relationship to whomever, we are following or knowledge of this leader’s “gifts.”
In real life, real leaders are rare. Often, men and women are elected or appointed to leadership positions but then falter or fail to act. Others abuse their power to satisfy their egos, crushing whoever may get in their way and squandering resources. However, without faithful, ethical, and effective leaders, people wander. Just as the Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years.
Many people think that prosperity and success come from having power, influential personal contacts, and a relentless desire to get ahead. Just think about what goes on in today’s social media! However, the strategy for gaining prosperity that God taught Joshua so that he could lead the Israelites is entirely different from how most leaders lead today. God instructed Joshua to be strong and courageous because the task ahead would not be easy. He also taught him to obey God’s law by reading and studying the Book of Law—God’s Word.

Joshua 1:8
Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

I am writing this on election night. Praying that we the people will elect strong leaders! I am thinking of my grandchildren and praying that when they grow up, they will have the freedom to choose strong leaders!

In Psalm 1, a man who is blessed by God is described in this way: “But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” (verse 2).

Keeping God’s word in our hearts is a deterrent to sin. This alone should inspire us to memorize scripture. However, memorization alone will not prevent us from sin. Instead, we must also put God’s word to work in our lives, making it a vital guide for everything we do.

Psalm 119:11
I have hidden your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.

Even Jesus had to get away from it all to take time to pause and pray. Sometimes even strong leaders need to pause and listen to God. If this is where you are now, turn off the phone, hit the pause button, and try memorizing this verse:

Psalm 46:10a
Be still, and know that I am God.

Questions:
Have you ever memorized a scripture verse? If not, why? What keeps you from doing so?

Next Steps:
Look for time to memorize scripture:

  1. Write your memory verses on 3 x 5 cards.
  2. Tape the cards in key places in your home to remind you to memorize and meditate on those verses.
  3. Carry the cards with you in your purse or wallet. As you wait for appointments, stand in line, ride the bus, or do similar activities, make the most of your time.
  4. Make an audio recording of your verses. Listen to it as you ride to work or travel elsewhere during the day. Listen to recorded scripture as you do other tasks.
  5. Be alert to other opportunities to use your time wisely by memorizing scripture.
  6. Chose a scripture verse to be your “life verse.”

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the gift or your word that you use to speak to me. As I go through my day, and I experience anxiety, stress, anger and other negative thoughts and feelings, help me hear your voice. Bring to mind your Words that I have memorized so I may hear your voice and experience your peace.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and three grandsons.


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Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
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Slow Down Your Horses

I think I was born with my gears stuck in fast forward. My brain and my feet are always flying from one thing to the next. Consequently, sitting still long enough to listen and learn has always been very difficult. Doing school work was torture!

Back then, there was no diagnosis for kids like me nor therapies and medications to help me concentrate. There were, however, horseback riding and later, martial arts. These two activities succeeded in slowing down my poor frantic brain enough to allow me to become a ravenous reader, learn some self-control, and learn the power and value of pausing.

After a lifetime of training horses and teaching riding, I learned the importance of self-preservation and how to use hyper-focus. Just try galloping a thousand-pound horse over a fence while thinking about something else. It won’t end well. Then, at age 45, I took up martial arts, and I learned about meditation. I don’t know what others were doing when we were sitting with our eyes closed, breathing deeply and not moving, but I was thanking God for the lesson of making my mind and body stop long enough to pray and praise Him without interruption.  This was when God’s pause entered my life.

I became intentional about my time with God. Before that, my Bible reading was hit or miss (mostly miss), and my lifestyle, ungodly choices, and negative consequences reflected that. I was miserable for much of this time and wanted to change. For years, I had heard I should start my day, every day, in God’s Word, the Bible.  Unfortunately, I had always had an excuse: my kids, my work, I’m too tired, it’s too hard, I’d rather watch Jeopardy, etc. However, I was sick and tired of being empty.

2 Timothy 3:16

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.

 

So, I stopped making excuses and rationalizations. I decided to create a space and a time to close the door on the world. To pause with the sole intention of reading God’s love story to us and asking for his Holy Spirit to enlighten me as to what he was saying as it pertained to my life. One problem though—my mind still tends to be on fast forward! To this day, I cannot enter a room without forgetting what I went in there for because I notice at least four other things to do once I’m there. The solution? It’s called self-discipline, intentionality, and repetition until you suddenly realize,  your time in the Word is a joy.

It took me a while, but day by day, I kept at it. Eventually, it became the highlight of my day as God spoke to me through his Word. That was 18 years ago, and now God is the center of my life, right where he belongs. I went from being empty, to being filled with his Spirit just as God promised through the apostle Paul in Galatians.

Galatians 5:16-24 ESV 
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh…. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

And God always keeps his promises. So pause and fill that time with the Word of God.  He does not disappoint.

 

Questions:
How has God recently spoken to you through reading his Word?

If you struggle with reading your Bible, what is keeping you from reading regularly?

Are you ready to take a step and commit to reading the Bible more often?

Next Steps:
Ask God to give you the strength to hand over the areas in your life you are still trying to control to him. Determine to put God at the center of your whole life and start by pausing every day to spend time in his Word. Do it for 30 days straight. Write down what happens.

Prayer:
Father, I am sorry for neglecting my relationship with you. I am sorry for assuming I could call myself your child but never prioritize spending time with you above all else. Lord, please forgive me! Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit who is waiting for me to make a conscious effort to put my relationship with you first and who will provide me with all I need to grow closer to you. Please help me hit the pause button on all the noise and distractions in my life at least once every day. Help me to learn to pause and put you first in all things and all relationships. 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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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Memory Verses
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Are Your Prayers a One Way Conversation?

Among the most infuriating conditions, we experience as humans is the vast extent to which our minds, stuck on “play,” wander throughout the course of any given day. Even when we seek to escape in our thoughts, we are reminded how difficult it can be to pause and engage with focus.

How often, when reading a book, for example, have you arrived at the bottom of the page and realized you couldn’t recall what you had just “read”? Your eyes were trained on the words before you, but somewhere along the way, your mind left the page. Comedian Steven Wright captured the essence of this phenomenon when he joked, “I was trying to daydream, but my mind kept wandering.”.

In the second installment of the Pause series, guest speaker Dr. Calvin Sweeney, pastor of The Tabernacle Toledo church, shared several ways God speaks to us when we pause to create space for his voice. Today, LivingItOut examines how God speaks to us through prayer.

Prayer provides both a framework and an atmosphere for purposefully quieting our minds. However, even in prayer, we can find it difficult to truly pause. In the opening chapter of his book, Before Amen, author Max Lucado shares a relatable confession.  “I doze off when I pray,” he writes. “My thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again.  Distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night. When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do.  I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray.”

Lucado, however, follows this confession with a definition of prayer that holds the key to hearing God’s voice. “Prayer,” he says, “is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child.”

When we view prayer through this lens— like a conversation with God—we begin to engage and appreciate the value of the moment. For me, prayer provides fertile ground for peace, perspective, and connection. Though it may at times feel like I am doing all of the talking, prayer is by its very nature, more dialogue than monologue.

I’ve never actually heard the voice of God, but just like I can feel an unseen wind; I feel his presence. When I pause to pray and listen, I feel his comfort and his urgings, and I regain the awareness of my place as his child in his kingdom.

In his book How to Listen to God, Dr. Charles Stanley writes, “To have God speak to the heart is a majestic experience, an experience that people may miss if they monopolize the conversation and never pause to hear God’s responses.”

As Dr. Sweeney noted, “the beauty of the pause is hearing the voice of the one who gives us peace.”

Questions:
Do you find it difficult to pause and focus your mind, even in prayer?

Is your prayer experience more monologue than dialogue? If so, how would viewing prayer as a conversation with God help to create space for his voice?

 

Next Steps:
Before praying today, pause to consider your prayer mindset. Think about the “majestic experience” that Dr. Stanley referenced and how you can be more intentional in providing space to listen and appreciating prayer as a conversation with God.

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I am forever grateful for your voice in my life. Please help me to remember and appreciate that my time with you is a shared experience and to invest the same care in listening to your voice as I do in speaking with mine. It is in your holy name I pray, Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media