LIO 7/19: Fight the Good Fight

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THURSDAY — Fight the Good Fight
Big Point: When you live and speak the truth, you may find yourself in a battle but have no fear because the truth reigns supreme and will help you fight the good fight!

We recently completed a series on how to fight—our fear, for our faith, for our country, for our marriage and even for our soul. This week, we are talking about having a hunger for the truth and guarding it using the instructions that Paul gave to Timothy. In 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul tells Timothy to use all of the instructions that he gave to him to fight the battle. What’s the battle? It’s the battle for the truth! There is an inference that Timothy is going to be in a battle and that he will need to have strong faith, as verse 20 further instructs, in order to have a good fight.

The same is true in the world we live in today. There is no doubt about it, we will battle for the truth but only if we live and speak the truth and do it in love. The issue is that most of us don’t see ourselves in a daily battle. We just live, day to day, unconscious of the fact that we should be guarding the truth. Some of us don’t live and speak the truth for fear that we may offend someone, or we think others have already made up their minds or some of us just don’t believe the truth. Today, let’s discuss some of the hot topics that are relevant to our world today and learn how we should fight for the truth. These hot topics include:

  • Gay marriage and homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-27)
  • Abortion (Exodus 20:13 and Psalms 139:14-16)
  • Pre-marital sex—Fornication (1 Corinthians 6:9-20)
  • More than one way to get to God and to Heaven (John 14:6)

We are certain that by merely listing these hot topics, you already have a certain view point. Let’s filter the truth about these hot topics through what we’ve learned this week and understand how we should fight the battle for the truth.

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
Francis Chan,
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God

READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
What primary instruction did Paul give to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:18 and in verse 19? What do you think Paul was referring to in verse 19 where he says “for some people have deliberately violated their consciences?”

1 Timothy 1:18-19 (New Living Translation)
18 Timothy, my son, here are my instructions for you, based on the prophetic words spoken about you earlier. May they help you fight well in the Lord’s battles. 19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.



Hebrews 11:1 is a popular verse but it implies action on our part. What will having a strong faith do for us in times of battle?


Hebrews 11:1 (New Living Translation)
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.



LIVE…What will you do now?
Do you question the biblical truth as it relates to the hot topics that we listed—homosexuality, abortion, fornication and Jesus being the only way to get to Heaven? If so, what are the areas you find questionable?



How often do you find yourself living and speaking the truth in your daily life about these “hot topics”? If you don’t discuss these issues, what do you believe is the primary reason you don’t discuss them. Do you simply avoid them at all cost? How can faith play a role in helping you speak the truth?



Describe an instance when you shared your viewpoint on one of these hot topics. How did the conversation go? If the conversation went badly or not as you expected, review what you learned earlier this week and write out how the conversation could have gone any differently.




PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you get out of your comfort zone and speak the truth, even as it relates to the hot topics discussed today. Ask Him to help you apply the principles that Paul taught Timothy and to fight the battle in a loving Christ-centered manner.

LIO 7/18: There is Hope for Everyone

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WEDNESDAY- There is Hope for Everyone
Big Point: Just because you are born into a certain “pedigree” or religious denomination does not mean that you are entitled to certain rights from Christ. It is only through Christ’s saving grace that there is hope for everyone!

There is no greater conversion story than that of the apostle Paul. His name was Saul prior to his conversion and he was born a Jew and a Roman citizen. Saul’s heritage can be traced to the tribe of Benjamin and he was educated at a Pharisaic Rabbinical school in Jerusalem where he was trained to become a Rabbi.

Saul believed that his lineage and education in the Law of Moses entitled him to interpret Jewish law and that by persecuting Christians, he proved his commitment to both the law and God. Saul passionately and fervently persecuted the followers of Christ in Jerusalem. He was not content to only persecute Christians in Jerusalem but asked and received permission from the leaders of the synagogue to travel to Damascus to arrest any Christians found there.

It was on his journey to Damascus that Jesus appeared before Saul in a light so bright that it was blinding. He fell to the ground and asked Jesus who he was. Jesus replied, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting (Acts 9:5)”. Saul recognized that Jesus was the Son of God. Saul became aware that Jesus was his only way to salvation. He also realized how great his need for a Savior was and of how unworthy he truly was to receive Jesus’ saving grace. Because of the forgiveness and transforming power of Jesus, (now) Paul, who was once a murderer of Christians became the New Testament’s most prolific writer and apostle who brought the gospel message of hope to all!


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
Paul’s conversion to becoming a believer in Christ is an excellent illustration of the hope we can also find in Christ. Regardless of your social or economic status or how appalling your sins may be, everyone needs Christ’s forgiveness and mercy. Read 1 Timothy 1:12-16 and answer the following questions.

1 Timothy 1:12-16 (New Living Translation)

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, 13 even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief. 14 Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.

15 This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all. 16 But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in him and receive eternal life.


Who does Paul thank for giving him strength in verse 12? Who appoints us to serve Jesus?


In verse 1:13 what did Paul do to God’s people?


What characteristics does Paul give to Jesus in verse 1:14?


Read verse 1:15. Why does Christ have mercy on even the worst sinners? What does this mercy help us to realize?



LIVE…What will you do?
We learned through Paul’s conversion that a person’s social status, economic status or the privilege of their lineage does not negate a need for Christ’s salvation. There are some people who believe that based on the denomination in which they were born, Jesus’ salvation is not needed. Write about your current social and economic status. In light of the example of Paul’s conversion, why is your status, regardless of its importance or lack of importance, insignificant to God?


In 1 Timothy 1:15-16 Paul tells us that Christ came into this world to save sinners. While he had an impressive educational and vocational background, Paul thought of himself as the worst of sinners. He goes on to say that the example of God’s forgiveness and mercy in his life will help others to realize that they too can believe in Christ and have eternal life. Think about the changes that God has accomplished in your life. List three ways you can use these changes as a testimony or example to others.





PRAY … God, what do you want me to know and do?
Take some time to thank God for the mercy and forgiveness that is available to everyone through Jesus Christ. Pray and ask God to show you any areas of sin that you need to take to Him for forgiveness. Pray and ask God to show you how your testimony can be used as an example to lead others to Christ.


LIO 7/17: It’s all about Christ

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TUESDAY — It’s All About Christ
Big Point: Everything begins, exists and thrives in Christ!

In 1 Timothy 1:5, the Apostle Paul appears to take a step back from his written dialogue warning against false teachers to discuss with Timothy another reason for his writing: “As the purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.”

As the most prolific writer in the New Testament, Paul relentlessly challenged believers to love God and live holy lives. The false teachers of the time preached a message attempting to woo people away from Christ into a graceless system that relied upon meaningless philosophies, myths, arguments and financial corruption.

In 1 Timothy 1:5, Paul reminds Timothy that Jesus’ truth wasn’t given just to be talking points in a debate, but that Jesus’ truth was to bring clarity, life and purpose to believers.

“Fruit” is the spiritual term for an outcome that results from discipleship. Paul reminds Timothy that “love” is the fruit that comes from a pure heart, clear conscience and genuine faith—all qualities that were in stark contrast to the outcomes that following false theologies produced.


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
PURE HEART: 2 Timothy 2:22 contains instructions about the attributes that create a pure heart. What are those attributes and why are believers instructed to maintain company with others who desire to live with pure hearts?


2 Timothy 2:22 (New Living Translation)
Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.



CLEAR CONSCIENCE: When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, God forgives us our sins—He wipes the slate clean. Hebrews 9:14 explains that when our consciences are clean, we are able to do what?


Hebrews 9:14 (New Living Translation)
Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.



GENUINE FAITH: According to 1 Timothy 4:2, true faith is rooted in Christ and anyone who teaches anything else is considered what?

1 Timothy 4:2 (New Living Translation)
These people are hypocrites and liars, and their consciences are dead.



LIVE…What will you do now?
Paul’s desire in 1 Timothy 1:5 was for ALL believers to be filled with love. Yet, Paul was very specific about the basis for that love: pure heart, a clear conscience and genuine faith.


Read the definitions of these three characteristics and rate yourself afterwards:


Pure Heart
A heart that is clean, totally purified—no lust, greed, envy, spite, covetousness, pride or self will. We cannot manufacture that kind of heart on our own— yet without it we cannot see God. The only kind of teaching which can produce pure hearts is teaching which focuses on the gospel message.

  1. Filled with lust, greed, envy, spite, pride
  2. Dealing with those  issues, but struggling
  3. Not perfect, but making great strides through Christ


Clear Conscience
We must not fail to teach the importance of a holy life; but we must equally not set up this standard without an equal emphasis–even a greater emphasis–on the sufficiency of God’s provision in Christ to meet it.

  1. Unforgiven by God; totally guilt-ridden
  2. I know I’m forgiven, but doubt sometimes
  3. I’m living with a  clear conscience


Sincere Faith
Do you know what you believe? Do you know why you believe? In order to grow in your faith, you cannot be afraid to ask the tough questions—and be willing to pursue the answers. Our faith is sincere when we have conviction and we live by those convictions.

  1. I don’t know what to believe.
  2. I know what I should believe, but I’m not sure if it is right.
  3. I know what I believe and I’m working on  how to share it with others.


PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Christ-followers are the living testimony of Jesus Christ. As such, our lives should produce fruit that is consistent with Jesus’ truth. As you think about your responses to the previous questions, our hope is that you will take the opportunity to talk with God about any gaps in your faith. Ask God to help you in your pursuit of a pure heart, clear conscience and sincere faith.

LIO 7/16: Guard the Truth!

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In The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the main character, Katniss, cares for and protects her family in a dystopian society. In a dystopian society, the people live in a repressed and controlled state while the leaders, “The Capitol”, present the guise of a utopia—or perfect society. Every year, a boy and a girl are selected from each district to perform in the games, a fight to the death, as a reminder of The Capitol’s control and punishment for a rebellion generations previous.

In 1 Timothy, Paul begins to instruct his mentee, Timothy, on working to stop false teaching. Like The Capitol, there are leaders in Ephesus who teach contrary to the truth, seeking some control over others. They consider themselves righteous and knowledgeable, a holier than others attitude, while discussing mythological religions and spiritual pedigree. However, Paul reminds Timothy that their words are meaningless because they have missed the point. 8 We know that the law is good when used correctly. 9 For the law was not intended for people who do what is right. It is for people who are lawless and rebellious, who are ungodly and sinful, who consider nothing sacred and defile what is holy…” 1 Timothy 1:8-9 (NLT).

The truth is plain, we are all sinners. Paul writes out a list of sins, including murder, sexual immorality, slave trading, lying, breaking promises and, well, anything that contradicts the word of God. Are you surprised to see lying next to murder? Did you believe that God ordered sins in a way that made one worse than the other? He doesn’t. The truth is, no one has done anything that puts him or her beyond the grace of God. We are all redeemable through Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross. Placing ourselves above any other person actually classifies as pride, another sin. We are no better or worse than our brothers and sisters.

When we place anyone, for any sin, outside of the grace of God, considering them beyond redemption, we become false teachers. Jesus died on the cross for us while we were still sinners. The laws are not intended to condemn you beyond grace, nor are they a “don’t” list. God gave us His laws because He knows and wants what is best for us. God’s perspective reaches far beyond our own and following His laws will bring us peace, freedom and joy. God doesn’t want to control you; He’s not like The Capitol. He wants you to choose Him in order to experience His peace. When we draw closer to God, living according to His laws becomes more natural. Our desire to live a life pleasing to Him supersedes our sinful nature.

If we are to become teachers of the truth and not false teachers, we must share the truth in kindness and with love. God never asked us to judge each other. In fact, we are reminded numerous times throughout the Bible that God judges, not us. Our purpose is to hunger for the truth and be so convicted by it that we must tell the world. We do not say to others, “you are bad.” We say, as Paul himself says, “Jesus came to save sinners and we are all sinners.” No one person deserves God’s love more or less than you. God’s love is truth; let His truth convict you of your own sins, then you can help—not condemn—others to overcome their sins by leading them to the truth and showing them God’s love and grace.

Jesus said, “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
Matthew 7:5 (NLT)


MONDAY — Guard the Truth!
Big Point: You must know the truth and be prepared to guard it—even fight for it when necessary.

In Lee’s message, he discussed “primary” and “secondary” doctrines. Perhaps some of these doctrine concepts are new for many of you, so let’s take some time to review:

Primary Doctrine
Truths found in the Bible that are essential to the Christian faith and non-negotiable. There will be no arguing about these fundamental truths.

Topics such as:

  • Jesus Christ is the Only way to salvation
  • Doctrine of the Trinity


Secondary Doctrine
Topics discussed in scripture, but the teaching on those topics leaves room for individual opinion. We can agree to disagree on these issues.

Topics such as:

  • End-Time Events
  • Speaking in tongues
  • Women in leadership roles
  • Music preferences


The Apostle Paul was writing to his protégé, Timothy, in the book 1 Timothy to warn and challenge Timothy to eradicate the false teachers in the church by championing the truth of Christ. False teachers were guilty of “heresy.” defines “heresy” as “an opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system and any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.”

At CedarCreek, what we believe about God, Jesus, Salvation, Eternal Life and other matters are outlined in our Statement of Faith that you can find in our Missional Membership material located at any one of our campuses or online at under the “get connected” tab. You can also find it under “church info” on our website as well. We encourage you to read it and direct others to what we believe! In fact, you cannot become a Missional Member of CedarCreek without affirming our Statement of Faith. Should you have any questions, please email either your campus pastor or our Living It Out team.


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
Since our series is about 1 Timothy, our first scripture verse comes from 1 Timothy 1. Paul is giving Timothy instructions.

1 Timothy 1:3 (New Living Translation)
When I left for Macedonia, I urged you to stay there in Ephesus and stop those whose teaching is contrary to the truth.


What are the two things Timothy is supposed to do?


Why would Paul use strong language in his instructions to Timothy to stop false teachers?



2 Peter 3:3 (New Living Translation)
Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.


In this verse, what do the scoffers do? What is their ultimate goal?


What does it mean to “mock the truth”?


LIVE…What will you do now?
Unfortunately, churches are known for infighting more than for the good things that they do. However, it appears that the only time we are called to fight is when we are defending the truth! Yet, Christians seem to bring out the boxing gloves for topics that we should agree to disagree about. Look at the list of “secondary doctrine” topics. Which one do you think causes the most amount of dissension at our church?


It is possible for believers to all share a faith in Jesus Christ yet feel differently about topics that aren’t “primary doctrine”. In what areas do you need to agree to disagree with other Christ-followers (who may or may not attend CedarCreek)?


The author of the popular, but controversial, Weigh Down Diet has a statement of faith posted on her website. Following is a portion of the statement her ministry made about the Trinity: “As a ministry, we believe in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. However, the Bible does not use the word ”trinity,” and our feeling is that the word ”trinity” implies equality in leadership, or shared Lordship…If God had wanted us to refer to Himself, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit as the ”trinity,” He would not have left this word completely out of the Bible.”


Do you see anything wrong with this statement? What is correct—but more importantly, what is incorrect?


PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you dig into the Scriptures to find the Truth, especially when you have questions. Ask Him to help you know the Truth and to guard it.

LIO 7/13: How Do You Connect With God?

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FRIDAY — How Do You Connect With God?
Big Point: Figure out the best way to connect with God and make room to connect with Him daily!

Have you ever given much thought as to where and how you worship having an impact on the quality of your worship? We are quite certain you contemplated these very things when you thought about making CedarCreek your church home. Perhaps it was not a methodical calculation. You just knew when it felt right. Over time, you probably decided on a specific day and time to attend church. You also likely decided on a specific campus to attend and even a particular place to sit in the auditorium. Outside of church, you most likely determined when you best connect with God—either in the morning, evening, through reading or an audio message. We are all different and we all connect with God in various ways.

Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Pathways, wrote an entire book on the very thought that “where you worship can have a profound impact on the quality of your worship.” The goal with Thomas’ book is to rid everyone of the “one size fits all” mentality when it comes to how we connect with God. He says that we all have a unique temperament toward our worship and his book provides the pathways in which we can discover how we best connect.

Today, take some time to review the different pathways and determine which one best fits your style. Then, read over a few questions and determine how you will begin or continue your daily connection with God.


___Naturalist: Connects with God by seeing Him in nature.

___Enthusiast: Connects with God through worship and celebration.

___Intellectual: Connects with God through learning about God.

___Traditionalist: Connects with God through ritual and ceremony.

___Ascetic: Connects with God in undistracted solitude.

___Sensate: Connects with God through sights, smells and sounds.

___Caregiver: Connects with God through serving poor, sick and needy.

___Activist: Connects with God by fighting injustice in the name of Christ.

___Contemplative: Connects with God through meditation on His love.


“Though Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Spiritual Walk”
Gary Thomas
Sacred Pathways

LIVE…What will you do now?
After reading and checking the different spiritual pathways, list the ones you checked and describe what you do every day to connect with God. For example, if you are a naturalist, you may connect with God while sitting in a park.


Spiritual Pathway:

What you do to connect:


Now that you know how best you connect, how intentional are you about your spiritual time? How serious do you take it? If you don’t take it seriously, what needs to change?


The intentional practice of spiritual disciplines are the primary means to enter into an abundant and transforming life with God.
A Year with God
Richard J. Foster and Julia L. Roller


PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Now that you identified how you best connect with God, ask God to help you have the discipline to find space in your day to connect with Him and to seek Him above anything else in your life.


Weekend Reminders: 

  • What do you think about the Living It Out resources? We’d love your feedback. Please take a few minutes to complete our online survey by inserting this link into your web browser:–June2012
  • The Leadership Summit is coming to CedarCreek again. Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit will be held at CedarCreek Church on August 9th and 10th. Sign up to register for the Summit by going to
  • Is your marriage flourishing or floundering? Perhaps it could use a little love and respect. This conference will not only benefit couples but it will also benefit individuals who one day aspire to be in relationship with someone. Attend the Love and Respect Conference scheduled to take place on October 19th and 20th. Sign-up at


Living It Out: July 2012
“…They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others.”
1 Timothy 6:18b (New Living Translation)


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

Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the Bible in 1 year—Old and New Testament will alternate month to month.

Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others

Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

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

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

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan scriptures are listed for each day. By completing each of the daily readings, you will read the entire Old Testament in 1 year. These readings are separate from the Daily Bible Study.


Sacred Pathways
Gary Thomas 


This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Alyssa Baker
Diana Patton
Emily Francis
JoAnna Studer


LIO 7/12: Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

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THURSDAY — Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Big Point: Too often we go off searching and seeking the very things that God tells us He will provide.

It’s a greeting card in the mail when encouragement is needed. It’s a job opportunity just when it seemed that the employer had lost the application. It’s the phone call of apology that saves a relationship on the brink. It’s neighbors banding together to clean up the street after a devastating storm. It’s just watching the sunrise, being grateful for one more day.

As human beings, we have needs. Life is full of coming and going, getting and giving. It can be easy to lose focus on God and righteous living. We want to reach for ourselves instead of allowing God to give us the things we need. This week, we are examining Matthew 6:33. We have discussed that we are commanded in this verse to seek God and to live righteously, but that is where our game of hide and seek ends. The verse says that if we seek God, He will give us our needs. It does not say to seek our needs for ourselves.

We can be such independent, impatient creatures. Too often we go off searching and seeking the very things that God tells us He will provide. We must trust in the promise of Matthew 6:33. Look each day for the needs that God provides to you.


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
What promises are found in the following verses? How do they relate to the promises in Matthew 6:33?


Lamentations 3:22-23 (New Living Translation)
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.


Philippians 4:19 (New Living Translation)
And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus



Notice God’s abundant provision in Romans 8:31-32, and the promise that comes along with this provision. How does this verse reassure us that God has nothing but the best in mind for us?

Romans 8:31-32 (New Living Translation)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will He not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?



LIVE…What will you do now?
In what ways have you been seeking your own needs? How might aspects of your life change if you seek first the Kingdom of God and allow Him to provide for your needs?




It’s easy to look at situations and see how our own actions brought about results. Think about a recent situation in your life and write out the circumstances that lead up to this event. Looking back, can you see the hand of God at work? How might the situation be different if you had allowed God to take the lead in providing for your needs?




Sometimes seeing God’s provision in our lives is a matter of slowing down to notice it. What evidence do you see in your life of God meeting your needs? List them here.




PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask the Lord to continue to strengthen you and give you the ability to seek His Kingdom. Pray for guidance as you wait on the Lord to show you His provision.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 07.11.12

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Thank you for your patience while we worked through some technical issues. The audio will be available tomorrow.


WEDNESDAY— Live Righteously!
Big Point: Loving God and loving others are the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave us to uphold.

Jonalyn was in the library browsing videos when she suddenly sniffed something unpleasant. A woman reeking of cigarettes was perusing the shelf directly below her. Jonalyn stepped away from her. “Why couldn’t she wait until I was done”, she thought. Her clothes were rumpled and dirty, and her hair hung in greasy clumps around her face. Jonalyn felt annoyed. She was there first. Didn’t the woman know that she smelled bad enough to make people edge away? What a mess!

That’s when Jonalyn heard something distinctly from God. “That’s what pain smells like.” She glanced back, but the woman was gone. In a split second, the woman became a human again. How could I have thought of her as less, thought Jonalyn. What was her life like? What were her needs? Who was she?

Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves because that is who we are. Our humanity inescapably connects us to our neighbor. We are wound in a network of community, made of the same material, humus and earth. We are made to love those around us; we can identify with those in pain. Any friendship that Jonalyn could have had with the woman at the library disappeared when she thought the woman was more broken than herself. When we follow Jesus’ commandment to love others, we can introduce them to Him. This happens when we see our neighbors as equally human, broken and in pain like us. Don’t we know pain? The kind that can make us like this woman, unmotivated to care for our body, hunting for any distraction: sleep, cigarettes or DVDs at the local library?

How often we fail to see our neighbors as potential friends. Look at each other and this world. Let’s not excuse our failure to love our neighbors. Instead, let’s ask Jesus for guidance to remake these broken parts of our humanity and introduce them to the God we love.

Adapted from Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
What are the two most important commandments Jesus reveals in Matthew 22:37-40 and again in Luke 10:27?

Matthew 22:37-40 (New Living Translation)
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

Luke 10:27 (New Living Translation)
27 The man answered, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”



In Luke 10:36-37, how does Jesus define a neighbor?

Luke 10:36-37 (New Living Translation)
36“Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”



1 John 5:3 tells us what it means to love God. What does this say?

1 John 5:3 (New Living Translation)
Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.



LIVE…What will you do now?
Barb’s favorite verse, Matthew 6:33, tells us to live righteously, which is to love God and love others. Reread Luke 10:36-37. Does someone come to mind that could use your mercy? Follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting.



Read CedarCreek’s mission statement below.

CedarCreek Church exists to help spiritually restless and unchurched people love Jesus, serve others, and tell the world about Christ.


How does this relate to Jesus’ commandments in Matthew 22:37-40 and Luke 10:27? What can you do today to live righteously and work towards fulfilling CedarCreek’s mission?



1 John 5:3 tells us to love God by following His commandments, which are not burdensome. Do you find loving your neighbor difficult sometimes? What areas can you specifically pray for so that the Holy Spirit can guide you to show mercy to others out of your love for God and your desire to serve Him?



PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Pray for the Holy Spirit’s direction in how you can love your neighbors and show them mercy. Praise and thank God for His unending love and for the opportunity to show Him your love by keeping His commandments.


Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 07.10.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for today.
Due to the recent storm and power outage, we were unable to record the audio for today’s study. We hope to be able to provide an audio study soon. Thank you for your understanding.

TUESDAY — God Wants You to Seek Him
Big Point: God wants you to seek Him and when you do, your perspective on life changes.

Do you automatically think of the game “Hide and Seek” when you hear the word “seek”? In some ways, it seems like an unfair game when seeking God. He is invisible after all. He’s omnipresent and already knows everywhere you are going to look. But God tells us to seek Him, even though He is right there with us. Maybe He gives us this direction so that we can learn that He is indeed right next to us all the time, even when we might feel He is far away.

We’ll continue our focus on Matthew 6:33. Think about what it means to seek God and why God tells us to seek Him in our busy, normal, everyday life. According to the Amplified Bible, the word “seek” implies “to aim at and strive after.” The New Living Translation states, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else.” In the New International Version of the Bible, this is translated as “seek first his kingdom” and The Message puts the verse like this: “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find your everyday human concerns will be met.” Whichever translation you prefer, the point is the same, first, above all else, must be God. Then everything else falls into place. But when God isn’t first, when our lives aren’t steeped in a perspective that turns to God and trusts in Him, the rest of life often seems to just not fit.


“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out.”
Matthew 6:33
The Message


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
According to Matthew 6:33, what kind of priority should seeking God take in our lives?

Matthew 6:33 (New Living Translation)
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.



How is Psalm 37:4 similar to Matthew 6:33? What do you think it means to “take delight in the Lord”?

Psalm 37:4 (New Living Translation)
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.



What promise does Matthew 6:33 and Psalm 37:4 offer to the believer?



Read Jeremiah 29:12-14. What words are used in this verse to describe “seeking” God?

Jeremiah 29:12-14 (New Living Translation)
12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”



LIVE…What will you do now?
Jesus gives Matthew 6:33 after a long list in Matthew 6 of all the things we spend our time seeking in this world. What things do you seem to spend the most time seeking? That is, what things do you spend the most time thinking about, worrying about or preoccupied with?


When you think of someone seeking God, what do you see in your mind? Do you picture someone spending all day in prayer or reading the Bible day and night or climbing a great mountain to be with God? This week, we will be spending all week thinking about this verse and the idea of seeking God and what it might look like in your life. Right now, just write down your initial thoughts about what that looks like and how you feel about it.



God says in Jeremiah 29:14, “I will be found by you.” Where do you find God? When do you experience God’s presence the most? Any particular time of day? What kind of setting? Engaging in a specific activity? (We’ll discuss this more on Friday).



PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Thank God whose greatest desire is to be in a real relationship with you. Thank Him who walks with us each day. Ask God to show you how to seek Him and to reveal to you areas of your life that might be taking a priority over building your relationship with Him. Take time to rest in His peace found only in His presence.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 07.09.12

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for today.
Due to the recent storm and power outage, we were unable to record the audio for today’s study. We hope to be able to provide an audio study soon. Thank you for your understanding.

Nothing says summer more than the voices of children playing. Most of you celebrated Independence Day with a gathering of family and friends this past week. Perhaps you witnessed a group of children playing the oh so famous “Hide and Seek” game and heard someone shouting “ready or not, here I come.”

Think about it, how many times did you play this game growing up? For some, it was that “go to” game when there was nothing else to do. For others, it was strategically planned out, especially when you were on your own turf. Some relied upon their speed and athletic ability to catch their opponents. But as Barb mentioned in her video message, speed and agility meant nothing if you didn’t know where to look, got sidetracked or you just didn’t look hard enough. To win this game, it takes discipline to pursue your opponent with a keen sense of focus and awareness of where they may be hiding.

This past weekend, Barb shared her favorite life verse in Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” She correlated her life verse to the game of Hide and Seek. How often do you find yourself seeking God but then wind up getting sidetracked? For some, it could be personal ambition, a career, love, money, the need to have a bigger home or car and keeping pace with what the world says should be your lifestyle. While these things in and of themselves are not sinful, if they take the place of our pursuit of God, they can keep us in a frantic and exhaustive game of Hide and Seek.

If you are like most people, you are striving to get a ton of things done in a day. You likely have a “to do” list a mile long. You long for that “sense of accomplishment” feeling at the end of the day or week. But, it seems most of your days are filled with exhaustion and a never ending feeling that your life story will simply repeat itself and grow miserably challenging day after day.

We have to go back to the tried and true principle that Stephen Covey shared years ago in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. That is we must “Put the Big Rocks In First.” Our big rock is God. If we put God in first, we will be able to find Him every single day and live the abundant life God says is ours. You might read Matthew 6:33 and think that God is telling you that first you have to do all of these amazing things for Him and then He will be with you and bless you. But God tells us to seek Him for our benefit. We are the ones who forget so easily that He is there, that we can pray, that we can cry out to Him in our need and that He will carry our burden for us. We are the ones who get so easily entangled with all of our problems and worries. We are the ones who try to carry the weight of our lives all by ourselves. This week we will begin to live out Matthew 6:33. But first, we must know that God wants us and desires us to seek after Him. When we seek Him we will know how to live righteously and have all that we need. Who wouldn’t want that?

The Greek word for “seek” is to set a priority over other priorities and to literally crave the fulfillment of that priority.


MONDAY — God Wants You
Big Point: In order to have the desire to seek after God, it’s important to know that God wants us.

Today, we’d like to take a moment to pause. Stop. Think about how much God wants us to be in relationship with Him. We get it—we talk about this often. But how often do you just stop and realize that God wants you. Specifically—you! Are you amazed at what God has done and continues to do in your life? If you find yourself responding with an emphatic no or even a hint of doubt, it’s important to know how much God loves you and wants to be in relationship with you so that you know the importance of seeking Him out and putting Him first, as Matthew 6:33 tells us to do.

We certainly can’t count the many ways that God proves His desire to be in relationship with us in today’s Bible study but we’d like to start by asking you a few things. Does it amaze you that God specifically designed you in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and that He is always with you (Matthew 1:23)? Does it amaze you that God would send His only Son, Jesus Christ, so that you would not have to go through the daily rituals of legal sacrifices under the old law when you sin? Does it amaze you that God still loves you even when you don’t feel the desire to love yourself or others? That’s just how badly God wants you.

Bask in that thought today!

The Hebrew meaning for the name Immanuel means “God With Us.”
Matthew 1:23


READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?
Do you feel you are God’s friend? What happened in Abraham’s case as described in James 2:23?

James 2:23 (New Living Translation)
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.



God continues to demonstrate His love for us. God showed how much He wants us in Romans 5:8. So what should we be busy doing for each other as described in 1 John 4:19?

1 John 4:19 (New Living Translation)
We love each other because He loved us first.

Romans 5:8 (New Living Translation)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.



There are many promises in the Bible that should make you breathe a sigh of relief. What promise does Matthew 28:20b provide to help you breathe a little easier?

Matthew 28:20b
… And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.



LIVE…What will you do now?
Do you feel that God is with you most days? In what ways do you know that God is with you on a daily basis?



Take a moment to describe your closest friend and the things that you do for each other. As you look at these things, do you feel like you do any of these things for God? Do you feel like God is your friend? Describe what you feel.



As you are basking in the thought of knowing that God wants you and desires to be in a relationship with you, engage in Lectio Divina by reading Psalms 16:8-11 (NLT). All that simply means is to read the scripture, take time to meditate and then contemplate the scripture as it relates to your own life. Then, pray with this Scripture in mind.

8 I know the LORD is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
9 No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.


PRAY…God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you recognize Him in your daily life. Ask Him to help you live with the blessed assurance and peace that He is with you all the days of your life.