Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.14.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.14.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Spirit Filled

WEDNESDAY—Holy Spirit: Encourages & Convicts
Big Point:
The Holy Spirit’s conviction isn’t to make us feel guilty, it is to free us!

     Depending on your spiritual journey, some of you have grown up with the impression that a relationship with God is all about guilt. Therefore, when you hear words like “conviction” you are disheartened because you liken the word to a prison sentence versus an opportunity to become free from sinful bonds.
     It is important, for those of us who call ourselves Christi-followers, to know that there is a huge difference between the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the condemnation of the enemy of our faith, because it can affect how we approach life.

Please, let there be no confusion. The Holy Spirit works to convict us to push away from the ensnarement of sin (doing that which is wrong) and towards God in freedom. The condemning spirit of the enemy of our faith works to push us away from God in shame and condemnation, so we are more prone in hopelessness, to continue to do what we should NOT. (from marriagemissions.com) 

READ…What does the Bible say?
The Holy Spirit CONVICTS us of sin
John 16:8 (New Living Translation)
8 And when he (Holy Spirit) comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.

John 16:13 (New Living Translation)
13
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.

The Holy Spirit ENCOURAGES us
John 14:16 (New Living Translation)
16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

THINK…Find the answers
Read John 16:8 and John 16:13. Why did the Holy Spirit come and convict us of sin?

What is the difference between being convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit and made to feel guilt and shame for our wrong doing?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Some of you are feeling the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life—meaning that the Holy Spirit has been trying to get you to pay attention to some area of sin in your life. What are you being convicted of right now?

If you are feeling conviction, what is more difficult: ignoring the conviction of the Holy Spirit (conviction that is intended to save you from further penalty) OR continuing to walk in the painful path of sinfulness?

What does it mean to you that God provided you with the ultimate Counselor, the Holy Spirit? How does it encourage you and reduce your stress knowing that He will never leave or forsake you?

How have you been encouraged by the Holy Spirit? If you are a Christ-follower and unable to answer that question, why do you think you haven’t experienced the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
One of the most difficult things in Christian life is discerning the choice between responding affirmatively to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repenting and ignoring the conviction—and therefore, stalling ourselves spiritually. Today could be a holymoment when you can confess your sin to God, ask for forgiveness and be free.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel 26-31
26:10 “as surely as the Lord lives…” An oath usually associated with life or death matters. The sovereign God would decide when, where, and how Saul would perish, not David.
26:21 “I have sinned…” Saul confessed his sin and wrongdoing. Although Saul may have been sincere, he could not be trusted and David wisely did not accept his invitation to return with him.
26:25 “and surely triumph…” Saul recognized the certain success of David’s future as Israel’s king.
27:1 “destroyed by the hand of Saul…” In direct contrast to Saul’s word that David would prevail, David thought that Saul would ultimately kill him. This anxious thinking and fear that fell upon him explain David’s action in this chapter.
28:3 “expelled the mediums and spiritists…” By divine law, they were banned from Israel, and Israel was not to be defiled by them. Turning to them would result in God setting His face against the offender and cutting him off from among His people. Mediums and spiritists were to be put to death by stoning. Even Saul understood this.
28:7 “find me a medium…” In Saul’s desperation, he sought the very source that he had formerly removed from the land. In spite of the ban, Saul’s servant knew exactly where to find a medium.
29:5 “the David they sang about…” The fame of David had spread throughout the land. The Philistine lords were no stranger to the skill and the victories that God had given to mighty David.
30:22 “the evil men and troublemakers…” From the beginning of David’s flight from Saul, he became captain of those who were in distress, discontent and in debt, the least likely to exercise kindness and grace to others.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.13.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.13.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Spirit Filled

TUESDAY —Holy Spirit: Teaches & Counsels
Big Point:
To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to cooperate and yield to the Holy Spirit as he teaches and prompts us.

Here’s a summary of chapter six of Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan: Campus Crusade for Christ founder and author, Bill Bright, taught a spiritual exercise called “Spiritual Breathing.” The basic idea is that you live with a moment by moment awareness of the Spirit until walking in the Spirit becomes as natural— as habitual—as breathing. It’s just a part of who you are. Here’s how it works: the moment you become aware of sin in your life you exhale. When you exhale, you breathe out and repent of your sin. Repentance becomes a natural response and clears out space in our hearts for the Spirit to fill us. So the moment you are prideful, jealous, lustful, harsh, selfish, impatient, you exhale and repent of your sin.
The only way to be filled with the Spirit is to empty myself of me. When I empty me of me, it provides space for the Holy Spirit to fill me. The more he fills me the less room there is for me.

READ…What does the Bible say?
John 14:26 (New Living Translation)

26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative— that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

John 3:30 (New Living Translation)
30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

The word “teaching” in John 14:26 is equivalent to the word “counseling.”
The Holy Spirit lives within us as our counselor.
The Greek word for counselor is parakletos and means: intercessor, advocate, comforter, helper.

THINK…Find the answers
Read John 14:26. What is the difference between allowing ourselves to merely be influenced by God versus having God’s Holy Spirit living within us?

Look at John 14:26. Notice how the scripture says that because the Holy Spirit lives within us, therefore, we do not need anyone to teach us. How do we know when the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us about how to be a follower of Christ?

Read John 3:30. This verse should remind you of this month’s scripture memory verse, Luke 9:23 (you can review it on the back of this Living It Out study). Why do we have to decrease in order to allow the Spirit’s presence in our life to increase?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Think about a time when you realized that the Holy Spirit was leading you in a particular direction—whether it was about the conviction of a sin, a change in career or relationship—any situation you discerned wasn’t your idea.

• How did you sense that prompting?

• What was challenging about following that prompting?

• Most importantly, what did God show you about Himself throughout that situation? How was your faith strengthened?

Consider trying “Spiritual Breathing” for the rest of today. Any time you are aware of any sin in your life—or if you feel the Holy Spirit prompting you to address sin— exhale and repent (or turn away). How easy or difficult was this for you?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Read John 14:26 again. Thank God for the Holy Spirit. Ask God to help you become more aware of the Holy Spirit in your life and not to resist his direction.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel21-25
21:2 “the king charged me with a certain matter…” David, fearing someone might tell Saul where he was, deceived Ahimelech the priest into thinking that he was on official business for the king. He supposed, as many do, that it is excusable to lie for the purpose of saving one’s life. But what is essentially sinful can never, because of circumstances, change its immoral character. David’s lying led tragically to the deaths of the priests.
21:13 “pretended to be insane…” David feared for his life, lacked trust in God to deliver him, and feigned insanity to persuade Achish to send him away.
23:27 “the Philistines are invading the land…” Providentially, a messenger came to Saul telling him that the Philistines were invading the land so that he had no choice but to withdraw and postpone his pursuit of David.
24:20 “you will surely be king…” Saul emphatically acknowledged that David would be the ruler over the kingdom of Israel. Saul had already been told by Samuel that God would take the kingdom away from him and give it to a man after his own heart.
24:22 “David gave his oath to Saul…” By solemn oath, David agreed to preserve Saul’s family and family name. While most of Saul’s family was later killed, this pledge was fulfilled in the life of Mephibosheth.
25:29 “bound securely in the bundle of the living God…” A metaphor that reflects the custom of binding valuables in a bundle to protect them from injury. The point here was that God cared for His own as a man would his valuable treasures.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.12.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.12.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: Spirit Filled

“The Holy Spirit”—now doesn’t that just seem so mystical? In fact, it’s often referred to as the Holy Ghost. It seems odd to comprehend that a spirit or a ghost would actually help lead and guide us. Well, if you feel that seems a little foolish, imagine how the disciples felt. Christ was with them, in the human flesh, to take care of them. If they were hungry, confused, lost—boom, Christ had their back! But when Jesus ascended into heaven disappearing into the clouds, leaving them on earth you have to imagine they were dumfounded. They probably thought “show’s over, time to go home, let’s get back to fishing.” Except they were given a bit of encouragement before Christ left. He told them “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalemand to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8-9) What they did not immediately know was that the Holy Spirit was better for them than Christ being there in the flesh.
Some of us often wish, almost with a hint of jealously “I wish I could have been alive when Jesus was around and experienced Christ’s power.” But Christ said in John 16:7 “I tell you the truth, it is good for you that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” So don’t be surprised when you run into David, Elijah or Moses in heaven and they invite you to the local coffee house because they are chomping at the bit to have you explain what it was like to have the Holy Spirit live in you.
What will you say? Will you have some stories to tell them of how you were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and how you changed the world? Or will you tell them that when you became a Christian, you got this gift but you never opened it– you never accessed it. You just knew about it, heard about it, but it never burned in you and started an inferno; a domino effect that would cause people to want to follow Christ. Most of us have tried our own path, done things by our own power and might by incorporating self-help and self-empowerment techniques. And as a result, we get burned and often times give up.
So you may ask, what does that feel like in real life? It starts by acknowledging our weaknesses, and right when sin occurs, we repent of our sin and incorporate a step by step, moment by moment, daily awareness of the Spirit breathing in us. Eventually, this process of being lead by the Spirit will allow us to say things like, “By the power of the Holy Spirit … I finally forgave my dad, or I lost 150 pounds and quit smoking, or I have forgiven my ex-husband for his infidelity, or We adopted a boy from China, or I overcame a drug addiction, an eating disorder, or my marriage was saved.” Now, can you imagine Moses saying “Wow, that’s amazing!” Because it just is—amazing!
Followers of Christ understand to be filled by the spirit (which means to walk with and be lead by the spirit) is to cooperate with and yield to the spirit. The Holy Spirit acts as our Life Coach to teach, correct, and encourage us. The Holy Spirit also empowers us to speak, serve and sacrifice our lives for Him! Our prayer is that Lee’s message raised your level of awareness and that this study will continue to affirm the magnificent power that Holy Spirit can have in our daily lives.

A fan may receive the
gift of the Holy Spirit.

A follower is filled with
the Holy Spirit.

THIS WEEK WE’LL CONTINUE TO REVIEW HOW TO GO FROM
FAN TO FOLLOWER AND BECOME SPIRIT FILLED!

Monday — Is this Church Spirit filled?
Today’s Big Point:
Feeling the “spirit’ in church is one thing but leaving church and taking the spirit with you to guide you through life is another thing.

There is nothing quite like the experience you get when entering a charismatic church service; which is often times loosely referred to as a “spirit filled church.” This past weekend, Lee described that experience which often included a lot of outward expressions that may seem different and awkward to most. You also heard Diana Patton’s testimony, where she described being raised in just such a church where there was plenty of screaming, running around the church, and ways in which people expressed the spirit coming upon them. In fact, one such spirit encounter caused a woman to get so engrossed with the spirit she fell over so abruptly that her wig fell off which caused Diana to shutter as a youth. But that did not matter to others as that was common practice in her church, folks just continued on.
     Who are we to say that a church is or is not spirit filled? In fact, it’s very likely that those churches are spirit filled. But it leaves one to ponder; can the Holy Spirit reside in a church where its people do not have these types of outward expressive encounters? And does the spirit travel with people after these outward expressive encounters? We heard Lee say that there is no such thing as a Christian without the Holy Spirit—so in fact, the Holy Spirit should be with us in the church, and outside the church causing us to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. We suspect you can do that jumping up and down, with or without your wig on, or being totally silent.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Romans 8:9 (New Living Translation)

But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. (And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them do not belong to him at all.)

Galatians 5:22-23 (New Living Translation) “…the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.”

THINK…Find the answers.
In Romans 8:9, it says what we should and should not be controlled by. What is that?

What does it mean when we don’t have the Spirit of Christ living in us?

What are the things that Galatians 5:22 says the Holy Spirit will produce in us?

LIVE…What will you do now?
A lot of us struggle with daily life. One day we can wake up and feel like we are on top of the world and the very next, its as if before even rolling out of bed, a Mack track rolled over you a few times and you can’t quite muster enough mental energy to snap into the day. Some of you feel the spirit when you come to church but it instantly leaves you when you leave church. This week, let’s not just feel the spirit at church, let’s live out and channel into the power that lies in the gift that God gave us through the Holy Spirit—how will that look for you?

What can you do every day this week before getting up to start your day to channel into the Holy Spirit?

How will you be sure to sense the Holy Spirit as you travel through your day? Describe what you will say, and do?

What will you do when you find yourself slipping into a negative zone, allowing your sinful nature to take over? Describe the steps you will take, what will you do? Can you call someone to keep you accountable?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God to make you aware of the Holy Spirit; to walk, talk, and guide you– not just while you are in church or while you are sleeping, but in every thought and action to produce the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control!

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel
16-20 16:2 “Saul will…kill me…” Saul’s unbalanced emotional state was already known in Israel.
16:3 “you are to anoint…” David’s first anointing was performed by Samuel, signifying God’s selection. David was anointed on two other occasions; both were to establish him as king publicly for the benefit of Judah and Israel, respectively.
16:7 “do not consider his appearance…” Samuel needed to be reminded that God’s anointed was not chosen because of physical attributes. This was initially difficult for Samuel as he was accustomed to a king who’s only positive attributes were physical. “The Lord looks at the heart…” The Hebrew concept of heart embodies emotions, will, intellect, and desires. The life of the person will reflect his heart.
16:14 “Spirit of the Lord departed Saul…” Without God’s empowering Holy Spirit, Saul was effectively no longer king over Israel, although his physical removal from the throne, and his death, happened many years later.
17:33 “you are not able…” David’s faith was met with disbelief on the part of Saul. By all outward appearances, Saul was correct in his assessment, but he failed to consider the Lord’s presence in David’s life.
17:46 “the whole world will know…” David fought in the name of the Lord and for the glory of the Lord, whose name and glory will extend to the uttermost parts of the earth, to all nations.
18:11 “David eluded him twice…” As Saul’s behavior was becoming increasingly violent, he made more than one attempt on David’s life with a spear. It was evident that God was with David, as it would be no small feat to dodge a spear thrown by such an experienced warrior as Saul.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.09.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.08.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: One and Only

FRIDAY — Reflection

We hope this week has challenged you to further examine your relationship with Christ and to grow in deeper intimacy, surrender and authenticity.

• What have you learned this week that may have you questioning your closeness with Christ?

• Is there anything about this week’s study that is causing you some discomfort or tension? If so, write about it here:

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Today, take some time to write out a prayer to God asking him to show you how to grow in deeper intimacy, surrender and authenticity. Ask him to lay upon your heart the individual names of those that will benefit from this series of messages and write their names below your prayer. Then, take the initiative to invite them to church.

 

This weekend, Lee will continue with the 3rd week of the Not a Fan series and we hope that you have been encouraged to purchase the Not a Fan book by Kyle Idleman. Do you remember when Kyle Gray let us know in his message that this series was going to shake us up a bit—well, how are you doing? We hope that you are feeling the Holy Spirit shaking-up some things. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Lee will be preaching on being “Spirit Filled.” Read this excerpt from the next chapter:

… the truth is you cannot be a follower unless you are filled with the Holy Spirit. Fans who try to follow Jesus without this power will start to show signs. Sooner or later they will reach a point where they are frustrated by failures. You keep doing what you don’t want to do and you don’t do the things you really want to do. You promise others that you will change. ‘Things are going to be different this time,’ you say. And this time you really mean it. But the change rarely lasts more than a few days. You lie awake at night and promise yourself “Never Again.”

Does this sound like you? Be sure to attend this weekend’s message and invite someone who wrestles with being Spirit Filled.

Weekend Reminders: Check out www.cedarcreek.tv for more details.
• Student Ministries— Do you have children or friends you know who are in junior high or high school? If so, you’ll want to invite them to the kickoff of “More than Just a One Night Stand” that begins on September 11th. Check out the ATC for specific information on when the students meet.
MOMentum for Mothers—A unique Lifegroup experience for mothers with children of all ages kicks off the 2011-2012 year on September 15th at all CedarCreek campuses. Get connected with other mothers! Check CedarCreek.tv Facebook page under the “Events” tab for more information. Childcare is available.
LifeGroup Leader Training—If you are ready to start your own LifeGroup or would like more information about what it means to lead a LifeGroup, please join us for our LifeGroup Leader Training on Sept 17 & 24 during the 7pm service. Please RSVP to CindyC@CedarCreek.tv for Perrysburg or South Toledo Campuses, TinaB@CedarCreek.tv for the Whitehouse Campus or JimB@CedarCreek.tv for the W. Toledo Campus.
Truth Project starts in September! Over 2,000 people have participated in this 13-week seminar experience at CedarCreek. If you want to engage in a challenging worldview seminar, check this out! Starting at ALL CedarCreek campuses in mid-September. Childcare is available with pre-registration.
Discover your Purpose – This course will help you discover your unique ability in helping serve the Kingdom of God. Sign up or register online today! Perrysburg Campus: Sunday, Sept. 18 at 10:45am. Whitehouse Campus: Monday, Sept. 19 at 7pm. W. Toledo Campus: Wednesday, Sept. 28 at 7pm.

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

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

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

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message
Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the New Testament in a year
Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others
Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

All of these resources are also available electronically at www.livingitout.tv, 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 barbr@cedarcreek.tv.

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.

RESOURCES:

Old Testament commentary compiled by: Rick Kinney

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Barb Roose
Diana Patton

 

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel 11-15
11:2 “Gouge out the right eye…” This barbarous mutilation was a common punishment of usurpers in the ancient Near East which would disable the warriors’ depth perception and peripheral vision, rendering them useless in battle.
11:15 “confirmed Saul as King before the Lord…” All the people came to crown Saul king that day. The process of entering the kingship was the same for both
Saul and David: commissioned by the Lord, confirmed by military victory and crowned.
13:11 “when I saw…” Saul reacted disobediently based upon what he saw, not by faith. He feared losing his men and did not properly consider what God wanted him to do.
13:14 “a man after His own heart…” Instead of Saul, God was going to choose one whose heart was like His own, i.e., one who had a will to obey God. Someone else, namely David, had already been chosen to be God’s leader over His people.
14:23 “so the Lord rescued Israel…” In spite of their disobedient king, God was faithful to deliver Israel from her enemies.
15:22 “to obey is better than sacrifice…” This is the essential Old Testament truth.  Samuel stated that God desires heart obedience over ritual sacrifice of animals.  The sacrificial system was never intended to function in place of living an obedient life.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.08.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.08.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: One and Only

THURSDAY— How much did you say it would cost?
Today’s Big Point:
Stop focusing on how much you may lose by following Christ and start zoning in on the incredible “well-worth it” benefits you’ll receive by claiming Christ as your one and only!

If following Jesus would cost you everything, would it still be worth it? In the “Not a Fan” book, Kyle writes about John Oros, a church leader in Romania during the communist era who vividly lived the cost of being a Christian—which is not too far from what Christ asks of us in the scriptures.
      When John spoke at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, he’d talk to individuals who had decided to become Christians. He would say things like, “It is so good that you want to become a Christian but there is a price to be paid… why don’t you reconsider what you want to do, because many things could happen to you-you can lose, and lose big.” He would go on to say to those who followed through and got baptized, “When you give your testimony, there will be informers who will jot down your name. Tomorrow the problems will start. Count the cost. Christianity is not easy. It’s not cheap. You can be demoted. You can lose your job. You can lose your friends. You can lose your neighbors. You can lose your kids. You can lose even your own life.” John wanted to get everyone to a place where following Jesus was so important to them, that if they lost everything it would still be worth it.
     Of course, we are blessed not to have to live the above scenario. Instead, what we hear at the end of a sermon is “I want everybody to bow their heads, close their eyes … If you want to be a Christian, then just raise your hand … I see that hand … I see that hand.” And that’s about it. But the reality is, God wants much more, similar to what John explained above. He wants us to be okay with the tension that comes with wondering whether the sacrifice for God will be worth it. Because it will be when we give up something we love for something we love even more—Him!

Read … What does the Bible say? Luke 14:25-28 (New International Version)
25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. 28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost.

THINK…Find the answers
We are continuing our review of Luke 14 from earlier in the week, this time with verse 26. What does Jesus say a disciple must do to everyone else by comparison? (it’s a word that teachers say is a very strong word) _________. Why do you think Jesus uses such a harsh word in relationship to someone following him?

Further, in verse 28, Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that they must begin by doing what first?

Following Christ may
mean offending your parents
or being cut out of a
will—Ouch!
Still worth it to you?
Let’s do this!

LIVE…What will you do now?
The word hate is defined as “to dislike something intensely” or to “have feelings of intense hostility.” Clearly Jesus doesn’t want us to “hate” our family in that sense—that would violate everything else the Bible teaches on the subject. Rather, the interpretation of the term hate that the Bible says is to “love me more.” But “hate” is also accurate because it captures the degree to which we must love Jesus more.

When does following Jesus interfere with the rest of your life? If you are serious about Jesus being the “one and only,” what tough decisions do you need to make?

When does following Christ get difficult for you? When times get tough and being known as a Christian starts to cost you something, do you react like a fan or like a follower?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
At some point in all of our Christian lives, we become distracted by someone or something that is preventing us from making Jesus our one and only. You have a choice today to re-take up your cross and get rid of whatever is getting in the way.

Jesus isn’t saying “I want to be first place in your life.”
He is saying “I don’t even want there to be a second place”

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel 6-10
7:2 “twenty years…” The twenty years designated the period Israel neglected God and chased after foreign gods. After those twenty years, Israel returned to the Lord.
7:6 “drew water, and poured it out before the Lord…” The pouring out of water before the Lord was a sign of repentance. The symbol of Samuel pouring out the water and the acknowledgment of the people reveal a situation where true repentance had taken place. The condition of the heart superseded the importance of righteousness of the ritual.
7:12 “Thus far the Lord has helped us…” This expression means that the Lord was the One responsible for getting Israel to this point. He was Israel’s Sovereign One in times of both faithfulness and rebellion.
8:3 “his sons did not walk in his ways…” The perverted desire for riches led Samuel’s sons to take bribes and pervert justice. The sins of Samuel’s sons became the pretext for Israel’s demand for a king.
8:5 “Now appoint us a king…like all the other nations…” During this period, Israel was led by judges, but the Canaanite city-states were led by kings. Additionally, during the period of the judges, Israel was enslaved by the nations that were led by kings. God allowed their desire for a king to occur even though it was not God’s plan.
8:20 “fight our battles…” Up until this point, the Lord Himself had fought the battles for Israel. Israel no longer wanted the Lord to be their warrior; replacing Him with a human king was their desire. It was in this way that Israel rejected the Lord.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.07.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.07.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: One and Only

Wednesday — Fans are fakes…
Today’s Big Point:
Jesus is looking for authenticity, not perfection.

Not a Fan story: Caroline… “I grew up in North Carolina and though I believed in God, I didn’t really have any kind of relationship with Jesus. In the year 2000, I was studying to become a surgeon when things in my world began to fall apart. My husband at the time asked for a divorce, and two days later my mother committed suicide. The next year I led a double life. I was a surgical resident at work, but the rest of the time I was drinking heavily and contemplating my own suicide. I had no idea what to do or who to turn to. What soon became clear is that I couldn’t bear these burdens of life alone.”
     After realizing that she couldn’t do life on her own, Caroline decided to call out to God. “I felt like I had lost everything. God was all that was left, but I wasn’t sure that was enough.” She finished her medical training, remarried and moved to Louisville to start her career as a surgeon.
     Eventually Caroline realized that Christ was the only one who could heal her heart and life. However, she struggled to surrender control of her life to him. But, it was worth it. “The healing I’ve felt since giving my life to Christ is incredible. I think that’s because only the Great Physician could heal the wounds of this surgeon. And he has.” (from Not a Fan)

READ…What does the Bible say?
Matthew 23:23-28 (New Living Translation)
23 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! 25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too. 27 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. 28 Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.

THINK…Find the answers
Read Matthew 23:23-28. Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders. At first, Jesus acknowledges their efforts to live according to the scriptures. However, Jesus condemns them for neglecting more important things. What had they neglected?

Jesus offers some advice to the religious leaders on how they could undo their hypocrisy.
Explain Jesus’ words in Matthew 23:26.

Integrity
When we are truthful to
ourselves…
Honesty
When we are truthful to
others…

LIVE…What will you do now?
Authenticity happens when we live without a mask— when we live without the desire for people to see us differently than how we really are. How authentic are you? Are there any times in life when you wear a mask to prevent people from seeing you as you really are?

We cannot live authentic lives without integrity and honesty. However, many of us grew up seeing too many Christians pretend their lives were perfect or that they had no struggles. How do un-authentic Christians actually damage the effectiveness of the gospel message?

Look to the right at the definition of two important words: “integrity” and “honesty.” Are you living a life of integrity? What about honesty?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do? There were some tough questions to grapple with today. If you realize that you’ve been wearing a mask—are you ready to take it off and live authentically as a follower of Christ? If so, commit your decision in prayer and ask God for help to do so.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: 1 Samuel 1-5
1:3 “This man went up…yearly…” All Israelite men were required to attend three annual feasts at the central sanctuary. Elkanah regularly attended these festivals with his wives.
1:5 “the Lord had closed her womb…” Hannah’s barrenness was the result of divine providence.
1:6 “her rival…” Elkanah’s other wife was Hannah’s rival.
1:11 “vow…” Hannah pledged to give the Lord her son in return for God’s favor in giving her that son. A married women’s vow could be confirmed or nullified by her husband.
2:1-10 Hannah prayed from joy in these verses. The prominent idea in Hannah’s prayer is that the Lord is a righteous judge. He had brought down the proud (Peninnah) and exalted the humble (Hannah).
3:3 “before the lamp of God went out…” the golden lampstand, located in the Holy Place of the tabernacle, was filled with olive oil and lit at twilight. The lamp was kept burning from evening until morning. Just before dawn, while the golden lampstand was still burning, Samuel was called to his prophetic ministry.
3:19 “the Lord was with him…” The Lord’s presence was with Samuel, as it would be later with David. The Lord’s presence validated His choice of a man for His service.
4:3 “why has the Lord defeated us…?” The question of the elders reflected their knowledge that the Lord both fought their battles and allowed their defeat. To be defeated clearly meant that God was not “with” them. Instead of inquiring of the Lord for direction, they proceeded to take the matter into their own hands.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.06.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.06.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: One and Only

Tuesday — The One and Only!
Today’s Big Point:
We cannot just “fit” Jesus into our lives. We must completely surrender to him.

     In John 3, we read about a fan named Nicodemus. You should know that he wasn’t just any fan. He was a well-known and well-respected man of God. Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, an elite group of community and religious leaders. He had been an admirer of Jesus for some time. Listening to the teaching of Jesus, he couldn’t help but be inspired. He watched as Jesus worked incredible miracles, but it wasn’t just his power that was impressive, it was his compassion and love.
    Nicodemus was ready to take his relationship with Jesus to another level, but it wasn’t that easy. It never is. There would be much to lose if he went public as a follower of Jesus. What would people think if they found out that Nicodemus was an admirer of this homeless carpenter-turned-rabbi from a nothing town called Galilee… being a secret admirer of Jesus cost him nothing, but becoming a follower came at a high price. It always does. Here is the reality that Nicodemus is about ready to have impressed on him: There is no way to follow Jesus without him interfering with your life. Following Jesus will cost you something—following Jesus always costs something. (from Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan).

Matthew 16:24 (New Living Translation)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower,
you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

In the original language of the scriptures, the word “disciple” means mathetes. It means a learner or a student.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Luke 14:25-28, 33 (New Living Translation)

25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison— your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost… 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

THINK…Find the answers
Read Luke 14:25-33. How many times does the phrase “my disciple” appear in this passage of scripture? What is the significance of Jesus using such a possessive (“my”) phrase in the context of his invitation to follow him?

Focus on Luke 14:33. Why does Jesus tell us that we cannot be his disciples unless we give up everything for him? Why isn’t it possible to just “fit” Jesus into our life as it exists?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Luke 14:25-33 paints a picture of extreme discipleship. In our society today, no one wants to be called an “extremist.” However, in Luke 14:26, Jesus says we are to be exclusively his—he must be our one and only. But, that’s not always easy. There are a lot of things—good things and bad things—that get in the way.

Let’s look at our relationships to things and people and see where our heart is:
1. What do you mostly spend your time and money on? (sometimes we end up following money and the things money can buy instead of Jesus):

2. When you are hurt, where do you go for comfort? (sometimes where we consistently find comfort can take the place of Jesus for our devotion and affection).

3. What is it that really gets you excited? (sometimes the things that excite us can also point to something or someone that competes with Jesus).

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
You may read this and think “this is going to cost me a lot of time and energy —I just don’t think I can commit.” Ask God to take your hand and help you focus on Him throughout your day…making you aware of the benefits that outweigh any perceived cost; allowing everything else to fade away!

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Numbers 33-36
33:1-49 The Lord commanded Moses to write a list of Israel’s encampments between Egypt and the plains of Moab. Significantly, forty places were mentioned, reflecting the forty years spent in the wilderness. The God who would lead the Israelites in the conquest of Canaan was the One who had led them through the wilderness.
33:50-36:13 Entering the Promised Land had been Israel’s goal at the beginning of the book of Numbers. This last part of the book anticipated the settlement in Canaan.
33:50-56 God commanded that all of the Canaanites were to be exterminated, along with all their idolatrous symbols.
33:52
“their high places…” These are hills on which Canaanite altars and shrines were placed.
33:56 “I will do to you as I thought to do to them…” If Israel failed to obey God, she would be the object of God’s punishment in exactly the same way as the Canaanites were.
34:13 “give to the nine tribes and to the half-tribe…” The land to be conquered was to be given to the nine and one-half tribes. The other tribes had already received their inheritance.
35:33 “Blood defiles the land…” Though murder and inadvertent killing polluted the land, murder was atoned for by the death of the murderer. Failure to observe these principles would make the land unclean. If the whole land became unclean, then the Lord would no longer be able to dwell in their midst.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 9.05.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 9.05.11.

Series: Not a Fan
This Week: One and Only

In the “Not a Fan” book, Kyle Idleman writes about Vijay Warrier—a man raised in India in the Hindu faith who grew up believing that the gods had given him favor. Vijay was born as a Braham, the highest caste of priests, and his mother was a priestess in an Indian temple.
Years later he married his wife, Girija, through an arranged marriage. Girija believed their marriage was not just a forced agreement but that there was real chemistry. Girija grew very interested in the Bible and began attending church, which caused much conflict and frustration between them. Ten years into their marriage, Girija was going to church every weekend. One weekend, instead of sitting in the car smoking and waiting for Girija to get out of church, Vijay decided to go inside for a cup of coffee in the church cafe. He was intrigued by the sermon he heard being broadcasted from the sanctuary and he decided to listen in.
In the weeks that followed, he decided to sit in the café and listen to the sermons— he was becoming a fan of Christ, sitting on the sidelines looking in. Until one day Girija asked Vijay to go to the prayer room and pray with a couple. After that day, Vijay asked many questions about the Christian faith, as he was not familiar with the idea of just one god. His biggest concern was his India family disowning him. But after much Bible study, prayer, and support from his church, he realized he was searching for someone, and that was Jesus, to help repair his failing marriage and radically change his life. The following Sunday, Vijay professed his belief in Christ, got baptized along with his two sons and renewed his life with his family. In the days that followed, Vijay moved from being a sideline fan to a “get on the field, overhaul and turn my life upside down” follower of Christ.
A lot of us get confused and believe we are followers of Christ, when in fact we are simply fans attending church, week after week, lacking true intimacy with Christ. Vijay started to become a fan by believing in God, and then over time he began to experience God by engaging in the process of developing true intimacy with Him—but first he had to repent and have a radically reliant heart. As Vijay began to draw near to God, God drew near to him (see James 4:8).
Last week Kyle challenged us to “define the relationship” (D.T.R.— as referenced in the book “Not a Fan”) we have with Christ. He further outlined the difference between being a fan and a follower. This week, Ben raised the challenge bar a few notches by asking us to dive into an intimate relationship with God so that we can truly know and experience Christ at the deepest level. This requires us to not just fit God into our already highly prioritized lives; rather, it requires us, just as Vijay did, to make Jesus our one and only true God. Ben further had us examine our hearts and he let us know that Jesus is not interested in sharing our hearts with anyone else or other things like our bank accounts, our career, our family or even religious rules or rituals. He asks us to count the cost … if following Jesus costs us everything, would it still be worth it? Our prayer is that after hearing Ben’s message and reading this week’s study, you will follow Christ, just as Vijay did, and commit to making authentic progress to radically alter your life and follow him.

Fans don’t mind Jesus inspiring them to make minor changes, little touch ups, and decorate their lives—

Followers don’t mind Jesus overhauling, severely interfering and turning their lives upside down! In fact, they desire it!

THIS WEEK WE’LL CONTINUE TO REVIEW HOW TO GO FROM
FAN TO FOLLOWER AND MAKE CHRIST OUR ONE AND ONLY.

Monday — Knowledge vs. Intimacy
Today’s Big Point:
Knowing God happens when we become deeply connected to Him and view Him as the source of everything we will ever need.

    Intimacy. Most people, particularly men, cringe when they hear the word. Visions of uncomfortable closeness or overexposure frighten us away from seeking intimate relationships with not only other humans, but Jesus Christ.
Martin R. DeHaan II wrote an excellent booklet titled “Experiencing Intimacy with God,” and he provides an outstanding dialogue on what true intimacy can be for those who long to know God. Here’s a small selection that defines what Christ- Centered intimacy is:
“The pursuit of intimacy is an intentional commitment to take steps toward God, and in the process of that Godward motion, to grow deeply conscious of, connected to, and confident in Him alone as the only source to satisfy, sustain and secure. The pursuit of intimacy is about growing more deeply connected to Christ as the ultimate source for all that I need.
The pursuit of intimacy is a process that is intentional. It is a process in that it is a lifelong adventure with increasing measures of satisfaction and meaning. It is intentional in that no one is zapped into intimacy; we must be actively focused on pursuit. James 4:8 says we are to draw near to God and he will draw near to us— that is a process statement.”

READ…What does the Bible say?
John 5:39-42 (New Living Translation)
39 “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! 40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life. 41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.

Matthew 15:8-9 (New Living Translation)
8 ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.
9 Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’”

THINK…Find the answers.
Read John 5:39 and Matthew 15:8- 9.Remember back to this weekend’s message. Who is Jesus criticizing in both passages of scripture? Why was Jesus using such harsh language to condemn the religious leaders? What were they doing wrong?

Who were the religious leaders in Jesus’ time?
The Pharisees and Sadducees were the ruling class in Israel. Even though the two groups were comprised of different classes of individuals, both shared many similarities—both groups claimed to hold the scriptures in high authority. The irony of their supposed esteem is that Jesus’ coming was prophesied in the very scriptures they said they prized—yet, when Jesus came before them, they conspired to kill him because he was interfering with their power and influence. The religious leaders did not love God, they only loved the rules that kept them in power. (from gotquestions. org)

LIVE…What will you do now?
How do people confuse knowing about God with actually knowing God? What is the difference between the two concepts?

It doesn’t matter how much we know about God—it only matters if we get to actually know God. Now, how well do you know God—in other words, what level of intimacy do you have with God? Rate yourself:
1             2              3                  4               5               6               7                      8
Not really       barely-ish      acquaintances     friendly       really good friends!

What is the basis for your answer? If you aren’t happy with your answer, what do you think you need to do in order to know God more?

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
It doesn’t matter how well you do—or don’t—know God. Growing in intimacy with God is a process that all of us engage in throughout our entire lives. No one ever arrives! Take some time today to get to know God better by just talking to Him.

Knowledge doesn’t always culminate in intimacy,
but intimacy always
  bring forth knowledge.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Numbers 29-32
28-30
Numbers periodically interrupts its history with lists of rules or rituals. The instructions that are listed here are not new, but God saw a need to review them just as the nation was about to enter the Promised Land.
29:1-6 The Feast of the Trumpets was celebrated on the first day of the seventh month. Ram’s horns were blown to celebrate. This was a holy day on which they all worshiped together.
29:7-11 The annual Day of Atonement pointed to the forgiveness and cleansing of sin for the priests, the nation, and the tabernacle. This day was celebrated on the tenth day of the seventh month.
29:12-38 The Feast of Tabernacles commemorated God’s deliverance, protection, and provision during the wilderness wanderings of the Exodus. It also celebrated the autumn harvest. This feast was held on the fifteenth day of the seventh month.
30:1-16 This chapter added clarification to the laws, regarding vows given in Leviticus 27. This passage asserts that a man was responsible for the vows made by women in his household.
30:2 “a vow…” A promise to do something or a promise not to do something. 31:2 “Gathered to your people…” A euphemism for death.
31:25-54 The plunder was divided equally between those who went and fought and those who stayed.
32: 1-24 The tribes of Reuben and Gad desired to live in the land already conquered because they possessed many herds of livestock and the land was good for grazing. Moses gave them portions of the land only on the condition that they would fully participate in the conquest of Canaan.