Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.23.11

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Series: Before I Die I Want To…
This Week: Be on Good Terms with God

TUESDAY– Conviction & Repentance
Today’s Big Point
: We’ve got to confront our sinful nature and turn away from it in order to truly turn to God.

There are a lot of teachings out there that preach a “feel-good” gospel where Jesus’ love and forgiveness are highlighted in neon lights. Proponents of the “feelgood” gospel focus non-believers on the free gift of forgiveness and a bright-andshiny heaven. But, what about sin? At what point do we own up to the sin in our lives? Until there is conviction of sin, a person feels no need for a Savior. What is there to be saved from? Before God’s Holy Spirit brings conviction, the sinner thinks, “I’m a pretty decent person. I live a good moral life.” He compares himself with murderers, rapists, child molesters, and the like, and thinks that things must be okay between him and God. But when the Holy Spirit begins to convict the person about sin, righteousness, and judgment, the person begins to see that God will judge not only outward actions, but also every evil thought and every careless word. He judges everyone, not based on a curve of human goodness, but by the perfection of His own holiness.

In Acts 2:38, Peter is not being technical about the sequence of salvation, but rather is viewing repentance and baptism as a package, with baptism being the fruit of repentance. You receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit at the point of repentance. Baptism should follow soon after repentance and faith in obedience to Christ as Lord.

READ…
What does the Bible say? Acts 2:37 (New Living Translation)
37 Peter’s words pierced their (the crowd) hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?”

 Acts 2:38 (Good News Translation)
38 Peter said to them, Each one of you must turn away from your sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God’s gift, the Holy Spirit.

THINK…Find the answers
In Acts 2:37, Peter is preaching to a crowd of people and sharing the gospel message with them. Once the crowd listened to Peter, they were convicted of their sin. Then, what did they want Peter to tell them?

Acts 2:38 is Peter’s response to the crowd, who were ready to accept Christ for themselves. This verse is often misinterpreted. What are the instructions Peter gave the crowd?

LIVE…What will you do now?
There should be a point in life when you realize the sinful condition of your heart, especially when you realize how holy and perfect God is. That point of realization is known as conviction and it is usually after that point that a person is ready to accept God’s forgiveness for his or her sin. Has this happened for you? If so, how did it happen?

 Four elements of repentance:
1. Repentance is not optional for salvation.
2. Repentance means turning from a life of sin to Jesus as Savior and Lord.
3. Repentance requires seeing how Jesus is.
4. Repentance requires being convicted of how terrible our sins are in God’s sight.

Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. The thought that a person could knowingly hang onto his sins with one hand while he receives the gift of salvation from a holy God with the other is inconceivable! (adapted from Charles Spurgeon)

Once we are convicted of our sinful condition, we are called to repent or turn away from our sins and turn to God. Repentance occurs at the time when we first place our faith in Christ, but we are also called to turn away from the sin that tries to invade our lives each day.

Once we come to faith in Christ, there will be other times when we should experience conviction of sinful patterns or behaviors. How can you know when you are being convicted of sin in your life?

What do you sense that God is calling you to repent or turn away from?

PRAY…God, what do You want me to know & do? Today’s topic might have been pretty weighty— especially if you are experiencing conviction right now. If so, it is so important that you take time to confess your sin today—acknowledge that you’ve sinned—and then ask God for forgiveness.

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ecclesiastes 11-12
11:2
Be generous while there’s plenty, and make friends while time remains, because one never knows when he might need them to return the favor.
11:7-12:8 Solomon crystallizes the book’s message. Death is imminent and with it comes retribution. Enjoyment and judgment, though strange partners, come together in this section because both clamor for man’s deepest commitment. Surprisingly, one does not win out over the other. In a world created for enjoyment but damaged by sin, judgment and enjoyment/pleasure are held in tension. With too much pleasure, judgment stands as a threatening force; with too much judgment, enjoyment suffers. In the final analysis, both are prominent themes of life that are resolved in our relationship to God, the primary issue of life and this book.
11:3-6 The world is full of things we’ve no control over—including God’s purposes.
11:9 “Rejoice…judgment.” The two terms seem to cancel out each other. How can this be explained? Enjoy life but don’t commit iniquity. The balance that’s called for insures that enjoyment isn’t reckless, sinful abandonment. Pleasure is experienced in faith and obedience, for as Solomon has said repeatedly, one can only receive true satisfaction as a gift from God.
12:13-14 Solomon’s final word on the issues raised in this book, as well as life itself, focus on one’s relationship to God. All of the concern for a life under the sun, with its pleasures and uncertainties, was behind Solomon. Such things seemed comparatively irrelevant to him as he faced the end of his life. But death, in spite of the focused attention he’d given it, was not the greatest equalizer. Judgment/ retribution is the real equalizer as Solomon saw it, for God will bring every person’s act to judgment. Unbelievers will stand at the Great White Throne judgment (Rev 20:11-15) and believers before Christ at the Bema judgment (1Co 3:10-15; 2Co 5:9-10). When all is said and done, the certainty and finality of retribution give life the meaning for which David’s oft-times foolish son had been searching.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.22.11

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Series: Before I Die I Want To…
This Week: Be on Good Terms with God

I made a mess of me
I wanna get back the rest of me
I made a mess of me
I wanna reverse this tragedy
I made a mess of me
I wanna spend the rest of my life ALIVE!
“Mess of Me” – Switchfoot

Doing good things is a good thing. We all feel good when we do good. Hey, don’t you feel good when you do good? Well…good! But, doing good for goodness sake does not mean we are good with God. “What?” you say. Ah yes, we can hear some of you now: “What do you mean, I just spent time filling a backpack of school supplies for the back to school drive. I went grocery shopping and filled a brown paper bag full of groceries for Vision Kitchen and other needy food pantries, and I am working on raising money to go on a missions trip—you mean to tell me all of that does not help me get on good terms with God?”

 Let’s be clear, everything you do that glorifies God and that you do for others, Christ says in Matthew 25:40, you do for Him. However, there are a ton of people who do a ton of good glorious things but they have not wholly and completely surrendered their lives to God. That’s the trap we can easily and quickly fall into when we fail to surrender. The quest to being on good terms with God is so difficult for our human minds to conceptualize. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” When God says he planted eternity in the human heart, that means that we can never be completely satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Because we are created in God’s image, (1) we have a spiritual thirst, (2) we have eternal value, and (3) nothing but the eternal God can truly satisfy us. He has built in us a restless yearning for the kind of perfect world that can only be found in His perfect rule.

So you see how we can fall into the “good deed trap”. Oh yes, we desire to do good; our hearts are set on what God desires for his people. And that is a beautiful and wonderful place to be. But if we don’t satisfy that unbelievable thirst with our living, breathing God, His abundant and filling scriptures and the Holy Spirit by being born again—we will always fall short. We will make a mess out of our lives. And often times, we’ll find ourselves spinning out of control going from one good deed to the next. A lot of us who attend church weekly, day in and day out can feel unfulfilled and lost; like our lives are a main stage massive train wreck when we lose sight of God’s simple message.

We learned this past Sunday that a lot of us desire to be on good terms with God before we die. And the majority of us who attend CedarCreek church are either exploring Christianity or growing in our faith. This means that a lot of us are just now learning that we must be born again, have conviction, repent, have faith, be baptized, study the Bible and pray with one another. At the end of the day, God wants us to do good works and good deeds and surrender our lives to him, wholly and completely! Let this be the week we quench that unending thirst that a lot of us have in our heart. Dig deep into this study. It will bless you and give you that peace that so many of us desire.

 THIS WEEK’S STUDY WILL FOCUS ON CONVICTION, REPENTANCE, BAPTISM AND CHRIST-CENTERED COMMUNITY.

MONDAY— You Must be Born Again
Today’s Big Point: To go from death to life in Christ, not only must we believe that God exists, but we must commit to growing closer to Him daily.

If you’ve been around CedarCreek Church long enough, you’ve probably noticed that we take the word of God literally by holding on to every word and letting it be a light that guides our every move. We don’t just like to talk the talk, we like to walk the walk. One way to learn whether we all are living out the gospel is to gauge where we all are spiritually and how we are growing in our faith. Review the follow statements and determine which you identify with most:
1. Exploring Christianity: “I believe in God, but I am not sure about Christ. My faith is not a significant part of my life.”
2. Growing in our faith: “I believe in Jesus and am working on what it means to get to know him.”
3. Close to Christ: “I feel really close to Christ and depend on him daily for guidance.”
4. Christ Centered: “My relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship in my life It guides everything I do.”

Earlier this year, 55% of identified with exploring and growing. While it is truly wonderful that we believe in God, we must work to grow closer to him to experience the true blessings of eternal life and become Christ centered.

 Can you imagine allowing Christ to guide EVERYTHING that you do … everything? This is the rebirth that Christ talks about. We know that the wages of sin is death but when we daily lay our lives down by proclaiming Christ as the center of our lives we receive eternal life.

READ…What does the Bible say?
John 3:3 (New Living Translation)

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

Romans 6:23 (New Living Translation)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

THINK…Find the answers.
In John 3:3, what does God say we must do in order to see the Kingdom of God.

What happens when we sin? So what do we have to repay in order to get eternal life through Christ Jesus as described in Romans 6:23.

LIVE…What will you do now?
At the top of the page, you identified where you are spiritually. The movement quadrants on the next page indicate how you can move from one phase of spiritual growth to another if you exercise the spiritual behaviors indicated. Take a moment to review the chart and circle the what you need to work on in order to move from where you are currently at spiritually toward the next level.

Exploring ———> Growing ———> Close to Christ———>Christ Centered

Movement 1

Reflection on
Scripture
Rare to frequent

Bible Reading
Rare to frequent

Prayer to Seek
Guidance
Occasional to frequent

Prayer to Confess
Sins
Occasional to frequent

Movement 2

Reflection on Scripture
Frequent

Prayer to Seek
Guidance
Frequent to daily

Tithing
I currently give 10 percent
or beyond to the church.

Solitude
Occasional to frequent

Bible Reading
Frequent

Movement 3

Reflection on
Scripture
Frequent to daily

Solitude
Frequent to daily

Bible Reading
Frequent to daily

Prayer to Confess
Sins
Daily

Tithing

Prayer to Seek
Guidance
Daily

PRAY…God, What do You want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you grow your faith and to understand what it means to be born again in Him!

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Ecclesiastes 9-10
9:1
There will be no inequities in the final judgment of the righteous or the wicked, because God remembers both in perfect detail.
9:2-3 Death because of universal depravity.
9:11 “time and chance.” Wisdom can’t guarantee good outcomes because of what appear to be so many unpredictable contingencies.
9:12 “his time.” The time of his misfortune, especially death.
9:13-15 Wisdom may not receive its due in this life.
9:16 This is true because he lacks status and position.
10:2 “right…left.” This proverb is based on the fact that, commonly, the right hand is more skilled than the left.
10:3 “fool.” Not one who is mentally deficient, but one who is morally bankrupt. It’s not that he can’t learn wisdom, but that he won’t. He refuses to know, fear, and obey God. “walks.” A person lacking wisdom will manifest that in daily conduct.
10:5 It’s a great and far-reaching evil when leaders make bad judgments.
10:6-7 Life presents some strange ironies and is not, in this world, always fair.
10:810 Dangers and uncertainties abound in life.
10:10 A little wisdom will ease the efforts of life. Even though life’s experiences often don’t turn out the way one would’ve hoped, wise living usually produces a good outcome. This is a very important conclusion for Solomon’s testing of wisdom.
10:12-14 “words.” Man demonstrates wisdom in words as well as works. Foolish words yield unfavorable outcomes.
10:15 A proverb for ignorance with regard to the most ordinary matters, which extends even to spiritual realities. If a fool can’t find a town, how could he possibly locate God?

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.19.11

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FRIDAY- Be like God…Forgive!
Big Point: Jesus paved the way for us by paying for our sins—showing us the ultimate forgiveness.

“Forgiveness is the rebirth of hope, a reorganization of thought, and a reconstruction of dreams. Once forgiving begins, dreams can be rebuilt. When forgiving is complete, meaning has been extracted from the worst of experiences and used to create a new set of moral rules and a new interpretation of life’s events.”
-Lewis Smedes

Definition of Forgiveness:
“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and have the power to wish them well.”
—Lewis Smedes

We as humans sin daily, some days more than others. When we do this we hurt God. However, God’s love for us is so powerful He forgives us time and time again. He sets the example and it is up to us to follow in his footsteps. God does not want us to be tied down with feelings of anger, hate, and resentment. He wants us to choose to forgive and ask for forgiveness and live free of the pain. Holding a grudge only keeps us trapped in the darkness, but when we forgive or are forgiven the weight is lifted and God grants us inner peace.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Job 2:5 (Good News Translation)
“To worry yourself to death with resentment would be a foolish, senseless thing to do.”

Psalm 65:3 (New Living Translation)
“Though we are overwhelmed by our sins, you forgive them all.”

LIVE…What will you do now?
Look at the definition of forgiveness. You’ve been challenged to deal with unforgiveness in your life. Keeping this definition in mind, can you think about someone you’ve forgiven in the past so that you can now think of him or her without anger and wish them well?

Think about the people that you have to forgive. How will you know when you’ve forgiven them?

Yesterday, you were challenged to ask for forgiveness from someone you have wronged. How are you going to communicate with them (phone, letter, face to face)? Are you ready to take the next step?

PRAY…God what do you want me to know & do?
Forgiveness of ourselves and others is a very difficult thing to do, and now more than ever should be a time to rely on God to help you through it. Pray for the strength to forgive or ask for forgiveness. Thank God as well for forgiving you time and time again. Ask God to help you persevere because the end result is so rewarding.

HOMEPOINTE FAMILY ACTIVITY
Big Point: We all make mistakes and so it is important for us to acknowledge when we hurt others and apologize to them.

Lesson: One of the best things we can do for our children is help them to take responsibility for the hurts they cause. Also, we want children to be able to learn from their mistakes and figure out what they will do differently next time.
One way to achieve this goal is to have children apologize using three complete sentences:
• The first sentence should describe what the child did or said that was wrong.
• The second sentence explains why it was wrong.
• The third sentence asks for forgiveness.
An example would be, “I said words to you that were mean and unkind. It was wrong because I hurt your feelings. Will you forgive me?” Using the guideline of three sentences will help children think and express themselves better. This approach is much more effective than a muttered, “I’m sorry.”

Activity: Children AND adults should practice making apologies to each other using the method described above. The children will be inspired if they see the adults participating in this activity.

Prayer: Dear God, I am going to hurt others—even when I don’t mean to. Please help me to always remember to apologize quickly when I am wrong or unkind. Amen.

Adapted with permission from Susan Nichter, LSW, of Greenfield, IN.

Living It Out: Scripture Memory August 2011
Ephesians 2:9-10 (New Living Translation)
Salvation is not a reward for the good things
we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
10 For we are God’s masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the
good things he planned for us long ago.

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:

Daily Bible Commentary Compiled by Lauri White

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Stephanie Coil
Mallory Stock-Dow
Barb Roose

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Ecclesiastes 7-8
Ecclesiastes 7: This seems to contradict Solomon’s previous advice to eat, drink and find satisfaction in one’s work – to enjoy what God has given. Adversity reminds us that life is short. It teaches us to live wisely, and refines our character. Solomon encourages us to think about death, not morbidly but in a way that helps us realize that we must examine the direction of our lives regularly and adjust our course if necessary. God allows both good times and bad times to come to everyone. Solomon, the wisest man in the world, confesses how difficult it is to live wisely. He says no matter how much we think we know: some mysteries will never be understood.
Ecclesiastes 8: Wisdom is the ability to see life from God’s perspective and then to know the best course of action to take. Proverbs teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom comes from knowing and trusting God. Solomon recommends the remedy for life’s unanswered questions: joy and contentment. No one can fully comprehend God and all that He has done, but the unknown should not cast a shadow over our joy, faith, or work because we know that Someone greater is in control and that we can put our trust in Him.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.18.11

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THURSDAY — When it is your fault…
Big Point: Chances are, someone is waiting for you to ask forgiveness…

One man’s story: Tim Crabtree spent almost 40 years abusing alcohol and drugs. At one point his family had disowned him. Tim eventually hit rock bottom and began attending Life Support. There, Tim embraced the forgiveness that God offered. Once he experienced God’s forgiveness, Tim was able to approach his family and ask for forgiveness.

Study from Journal of Adult Development:
-75% of those surveyed believe that God has forgiven them for all that they’ve done wrong.
-Only 50% said they had forgiven others.
Only 43% have gone back to ask forgiveness from those whom they’ve wronged.

It’s one thing for us to talk about forgiving others, but the conversation tends to come to a halt when we are confronted with being the offender. We can’t picture ourselves inflicting the kind of hurt and pain that has been inflicted upon us at one point or another—we’re just not that bad (or so we like to tell ourselves!)

But we are. Stop fooling yourself into thinking that you couldn’t possibly hurt someone else as much as you’ve been hurt—you can and you have. Coming to terms with that truth is quite possibly the most important thing you can do for yourself today.

Now, the purpose of absorbing that truth isn’t so you can retreat into the corner of shame. In fact, retreating is exactly the wrong thing to do! What should you do?

Here are some practical steps:
Step One: Make a list of whom you have harmed and what you have done.
Step Two: Ask forgiveness from those you’ve hurt. (Note: It may not be possible to speak directly to the person that you’ve hurt. However, a letter might be appropriate—but, have another Christ-follower read it before you send it.)

READ…What does the Bible say?
Romans 12:18 (New Living Translation)
18Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.

Matthew 5:23-24 (New Living Translation)
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

THINK…Find the answers
Read Romans 12:18. What does it mean to “live in peace” with everyone?

Notice how Romans 12:18 starts with “do all that YOU can.” What are the expectations and limitations outlined in this verse?

In Matthew 5:23-24, believers are instructed to postpone worshiping God until they do business with those they have offended. Why did Jesus give those instructions?

LIVE…What will you do now?
From whom do need to ask forgiveness from right now? It doesn’t matter if they also owe you an apology; you have to be humble enough to own up to your wrongdoing. Make a list and note what you’ve done to hurt or offend others:

Are you ready to admit wrongdoing and do regret what you have done? Y N
If not, why? (Do you have biblical support for your reason?)

Ready, set, action! It’s time for you to take action and seek forgiveness from those you have hurt. Use the space below to write out what you should say to one of the people on your list.

I am going to take action and ask forgiveness from __________________.

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
It’s a big step to realize that you need to take action and seek forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt. There are probably a lot of emotions, such as relief, fear and anxiety. This is a great time to talk with God about your impending action step and ask Him to be a part of your efforts to re-establish peace and bring about healing.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Ecclesiastes 5-6
Ecclesiastes 5: When we enter the house of God we should have the attitude of being open and ready to listen to God, not to dictate to him what we think He should do. Solomon warns readers about making foolish promises to God. He also warns against depending on money and acquisitions for happiness. You will never have enough, if “more” is your goal. God wants us to view what we have as a gift from Him, and focus more on the Giver than on the gifts.
Ecclesiastes 6: This person has died without being able to enjoy his wealth and honor. Everyone dies, and both rich and poor end up in the grave. God knows and directs everything that happens, and He is in complete control over our lives, even though many times it may not seem that way. We cannot predict what the future holds. In all our plans we should look up to God, not just ahead to the future.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.17.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 8.17.11.

WEDNESDAY—Why Forgive?
Big Point: Our ability to forgive is directly related to how much we realize we’ve been forgiven.

We need to forgive because:
…God has forgiven us
…resentment doesn’t work
…we are going to need forgiveness in the future

Here are some great thoughts from pastor and bestselling author, Rick Warren: “When I remember how much God forgives me it makes it a whole lot easier to forgive other people. You will never have to forgive anybody else more than God has already forgiven you. I will never have to forgive anybody else more than God has forgiven me. When you have a hard time forgiving other people, it’s usually because you don’t feel forgiven. People who feel forgiven find it easier to be forgiving.”

Does lack of forgiveness put you in spiritual peril?
Resentment blocks feeling God’s forgiveness in your life. The Bible says we cannot receive what we are unwilling to give.

You need to forgive others because God has forgiven you, because resentment doesn’t work and because you’re going to need forgiveness in the future and you don’t want to burn the bridge that you’ve got to walk across. Forgiveness is a twoway street.

A man came to John Wesley and said, “I can never forgive that person.” Wesley replied, “Then I hope you never sin. Because we all need what we don’t want to give.”

READ…What does the Bible say?
Colossians 3:13 (New Living Translation)
13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

Hebrews 12:15 (New Living Translation)
15 Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Mark 11:25 (New Living Translation)
25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.

THINK…Find the answers
According to Colossians 3:13, how are we to react to others’ faults and those who offend?

What are we to remember?

What are we to “watch out” for according to Hebrews 12:15 and why?

According to Mark 11:25, what are we to do first when we are praying? If we do that, what will happen?

LIVE…What will you do now?
When someone does something that offends you, how do you react? Do you make allowances or do you criticize?

Do you forgive others easily or do you hold onto a grudge? What do you tell yourself to justify holding onto the grudge?

It’s easy to rip off a list of mistakes others make, but let’s turn the table on ourselves. You’re not perfect—not even close. Make a list of the things you need to ask God to forgive you for:

When it comes to eternity, Christ-followers have experience the ultimate free gift of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. If you are a Christ-follower, how does it make you feel when you’ve been forgiven? If you are struggling to accept that forgiveness, why?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Make a list of the things God has forgiven you for today. Do you think your name is on someone’s list of people they need to forgive? Ask God to give you the opportunity to forgive others as He has forgiven you and to make you humble enough to ask for forgiveness from others.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Ecclesiastes 3-4
Ecclesiastes 3: Solomon’s point in this section is that God has a plan for all people. Thus he provides cycles of life, each with its work for us to do. God has planted eternity in our hearts, which means we will never be completely satisfied with earthly pleasures and pursuits. Solomon reflects on several apparent contradictions to God’s control of the world: evil, corruption, death, loneliness, greed. He uses them to show how we can honestly look at life’s problems and still keep our faith. This life is not all there is, and someday God will reveal His plans.
Ecclesiastes 4: Solomon looks at the attitudes of different people as they live their lives. Some people are lazy while others are workaholics. Both extremes are foolish and irresponsible. Work hard, but take time to enjoy the other gifts God has given. Life is for companionship and community, but popularity and prestige are a poor distortion of God’s plan, shadows without substance.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.16.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 8.16.11.

TUESDAY —Forgiveness is the Key!
Big Point: Only when you let go and forgive will you really feel free.

Melissa was born to a mother who was addicted to heroin. Melissa’s life was not easy. She was neglected, abused, homeless, hungry—yet she tried to take care of and protect a younger sister. The situation became so horrible that Melissa and her sister were taken into foster care. Abuse followed Melissa into her foster homes and, eventually, into her adoptive home with her new family. Melissa grew up wondering why all this had happened to her and why it was still continuing. She could never find the answer to the question “why?” This caused Melissa to act out and rebel as a teenager.

Fast forward to Melissa as an adult. She got married to her high school sweetie and had three children. She thought she was finally doing things right when her life got turned upside down by her husband, who became a full blown alcoholic, addict, and abuser. Feeling hate, resentment, and nothing but anger, Melissa went to Life Support as her last hope. It was finally there that she finally learned a powerful lesson: how to forgive…

She learned that God was her protector and shield—and God could help her fight the feelings of hate, resentment, and anger she had been harboring. Melissa was able to forgive all who had hurt her—and now, Melissa lives a life of freedom because God helped her release the hold resentment had on her life.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Luke 6:37 (New Living Translation)
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven.” Mathew 6:14-15 (New Living Translation) “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Mark 11:24-26 (New Living Translation)
“I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours. 25 But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.”

THINK…Find the answers
Read Luke 6:37. Another way of saying this is: “what goes around comes around.” List the examples of how our negative behavior comes back on us:

God loves us being in relationship with him. One of the best ways to stay connected is to pray to Him. However, what step must we take first according to Mark 11?

If we allow ourselves to forgive, what do we get in return?

LIVE…What will you do now?

“Forgiveness is God’s invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And He invites us all to forgive each other.”

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.”

Read the two quotes from Lewis B. Smedes above. Are there situations in your life that have hurt you to the point that the pain feels unforgivable pain?

God gives us a way to not carry the pains caused to us when He asks us to forgive. Yet, we make excuses not to forgive. What excuses have you been telling yourself?

What can you do to change the perception that something or someone is unforgivable? What do you need to believe differently so you can let go and forgive? (Hint: Choose a verse that has impacted you this week and memorize it— allow God to use it to work into your heart.)

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
God does not like to see us hurt. If anything, He wants us to know that He understands us and is there with us every step of the way. It is not easy and causes emotional turmoil, but it is well worth it in the long run. Let God be in control, and the healing will come.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Ecclesiastes 1-2
Ecclesiastes 1: The author, Solomon, referred to himself as the Teacher, or leader of the assembly. Solomon, the one person who had everything (wisdom, power, riches, honor, God’s favor) is the one who discussed the ultimate emptiness of all this world has to offer. Near the end of his life, looking back on everything he had done and experienced, he saw that most of it was meaningless. He learned that nothing apart from God made him happy. He wanted his readers to avoid the same senseless pursuits.
Ecclesiastes 2: Solomon conducted his search for life’s meaning as an experiment. He tried pursuing pleasure, created great building projects, bought lots of stuff and acquired slaves, herds, flocks, wives and concubines, but none of these brought him satisfaction. Solomon summarized his many attempts at finding life’s meaning as “chasing after the wind”. None of it gained him eternal life. In the end he could take nothing with him. God is the only eternal constant throughout this life and the next. Getting to know Him has the most benefit in life.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.15.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 8.15.11.

Series: Before I Die I Want To…
This Week: Heal the Hurts Between Us

Whom do you want to pay back for hurting you? Be honest. There’s someone out there who has done you wrong and you want them to get hit by a bus (some of you know this is true…). Not only do you want to see him or her get hit by a bus, but you want the bus to be going 60mph when it hits them. But, you don’t want them to die immediately. First, you want to be hovering over them as they whisper to you in a final, agonizing breath: “I was wrong…”

Sound dramatic? Possibly, but again, be honest. Whenever we are hurt by someone else, especially someone we care deeply for, our minds can go to some pretty dark places. If we are hurt over and over again by the same person—without resolving the hurt—it’s only a matter of time before that hurt turns to anger, then resentment and finally hatred.

Once our hurts turn into hatred, it’s a slippery slope down towards revenge or vengeance. We are consumed with daydreams or visions about how we are going to get even or we secretly clap our hands with glee when we hear of a mishap or tragedy in their life.

What are our choices when we have conflict with another? We can forgive and let go of the offense OR we can spend our days replaying the wrongdoing over and over again in our minds and fanaticizing about how we can get even. Even worse, some of you have done awful things in efforts to take revenge or get even. Question: which decision will always backfire on us?

We all know we should choose forgiveness, but we don’t. Or we won’t. Why? Is it because if we forgive we think that the other person is getting away with the pain he or she has caused? Maybe we think that forgiveness wipes away any chance at justice—because we want them to pay or at least be held accountable for the wrong doing. Lewis Smedes, author of the book, Forgive and Forget, is remembered for his 50 quotes on forgiveness. Here is one of them: “When you give up vengeance, make sure you are not giving up on justice. The line between the two is faint, unsteady, and fine…Vengeance is our own pleasure of seeing someone who hurt us getting it back and then some. Justice, on the other hand, is secure when someone pays a fair penalty for wronging another even if the injured person takes no pleasure in the transaction. Vengeance is personal satisfaction. Justice is moral accounting…Human forgiveness does not do away with human justice.”

Whether you have been wronged or you are the one who has hurt another, forgiveness is the only key that unlocks the door to healing the hurts that damage our interpersonal relationships. Until you make the decision to forgive—and let go—you will be trapped in the pain you desperately want to escape. Some of you don’t think forgiveness is possible because of what you’ve endured—it is possible, but you won’t know that until you forgive and experience the healing for yourself.

Definition of Forgiveness:
“You will know that forgiveness
has begun when you recall those
who hurt you and have the
power to wish them well.”
—Lewis Smedes

THIS WEEK’S STUDY WILL FOCUS ON HOW FORGIVENESS IS THE KEY TO HEALING OUR DIFFICULT RELATIONSHIPS.

MONDAY — Forgiveness is Hard When…
Big Point: Forgiveness is hard. Don’t pretend it isn’t.

When Jennifer and her family moved into their home, her next door neighbor, Amy, was there to welcome her. They quickly became best friends. Their children were close in age and enjoyed playing together. Jennifer and Amy baked Christmas cookies together, went to Bible study together, did life together. Then one day Amy’s husband said some things about Jennifer and her family that brought a wedge between both families. The kids no longer play together. Jennifer and Amy no longer talk on the phone. Jennifer feels like she’s lost her best friend. Whenever Jennifer sees her former best friend in public it’s extremely awkward. Neither Jennifer or Amy seem to know what to say to each other. Jennifer doesn’t expect Amy to betray her husband, but his hurtful words can never be taken back. Forgiveness is hard when you feel like you’ve been hurt and the one who hurt you takes no responsibility for his or her actions.

Where did Jesus get “70×7”?
Cain killed Abel, God protected Cain’s life. Why? Someone would have likely tried to take revenge on him. Generations later, Cain’s descendent, Lamech, would say the following: “I have killed a man for wounding me, a young man for injuring me. If Cain is avenged seven times, then Lamech seventy- times.” Lamech’s words gave birth to the dangerous, illfated concept of vengeance.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Matthew 18:21-22 (New Living Translation)
21Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

Matthew 18: 23-30 (New Living Translation)
23 “Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. 24 In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. 25 He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt. 26 “But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ 27 Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt. 28 “But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment. 29 “His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. 30 But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

THINK…Find the answers
According to Peter in Matthew 18:21, how many times should be enough to forgive someone? What does 70 x 7 really mean?

Read Matthew 18:24. In the story of the debtor who was forgiven but did not forgive, how much did the debtor owe to his master? What happened to the debtor?

How much did the fellow servant owe the debtor?

How did the debtor respond to his fellow servant’s pleading (Matthew 18:30)?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Most of us are experiencing a hurt and we need to deal with it…but we really don’t want to. If forgiveness is a process, we have to start by acknowledging the wrongdoing (but we can’t stop there!)

How have I been hurt by someone close to me? What did he or she do?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Chances are today’s questions churned up some intense emotions. However, if you are willing to dedicate this week to moving to forgiveness, then you can look forward to the day when the painful memory will be less painful. Take time today to identify those people in your life that you need to forgive. Then, pause and ask God to identify those people you may have forgotten.

DAILY BIBLE READING COMMENTARY: Ruth 1-4
Ruth 1: The story of Ruth takes place sometime during the period of the Judges. These were dark days for Israel when, ”everyone did what seemed right in their own eyes.” Moab was the land east of the Dead Sea. It was one of the nations that oppressed Israel during the time of the judges.
Ruth 2: Because Israel’s climate is quite moderate, there are two harvests, one in the spring and one in the fall. According to Levitical law the harvesters were to leave the corners of the fields unharvested, and they weren’t to pick up whatever was dropped. The purpose for this law was to provide for the poor and to keep people from hoarding. This is the work Ruth found to do. It is called “gleaning”.
Ruth 3: As widows, Ruth and Naomi could only look forward to difficult times. But when Naomi heard about Boaz, her hope for the future was renewed. Boaz was a kinsman redeemer, someone who had the power to change the circumstances of their lives. The threshing floor was the place where the grain was separated from the harvested wheat. Boaz spent the night there to prevent theft. Naomi’s advice to Ruth may seem strange, but it was common for a servant to lie at the feet of their master and even share his covering.
Ruth 4: Apparently Naomi’s husband had property in the town that was now for sale. The relative said he would take it, until Boaz mentioned it was a package deal, and that included Ruth. The relative declined, opening the way for Boaz to redeem both Ruth and Naomi. God brought great blessings out of Naomi’s tragedy. She and Ruth didn’t know how God was working in their lives, but when you read the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:3-6 you see that Ruth was the ancestor of David the king, who was the ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 8.12.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 8.12.11.

Friday — Payday…What Does it Mean to You?
Big Point: Paying attention to your lifetime investments includes more than just reviewing your 401k statements. We’re commanded to love others, and we’re instructed to do this by investing our money, our gifts and our time into them.

Bob Buford’s Formula for Living A Life of Significance:
• Stop chasing the emptiness of worldly SUCCESS…
• SURRENDER yourself and all you have to God…
• Experience SIGNIFICANCE, by serving others with your gifts.

Making a difference in the world is where you actively decide to invest in something other than yourself. There are lots of ways to make an investment—such as time, skills (talents) and money. Each of those are precious commodities that can be leveraged in significant ways…if we are willing to make such an investment.

Last weekend you saw a video about Phil Brondes—a Christ-follower who, long ago, decided to invest in the kingdom of God. Phil is not a pastor (and he isn’t even a regular attendee at CedarCreek), but he does believe in investing in local churches, like ours, who are reaching people for Christ. “I’m in business so I have a method to give back…I can’t tell you how many people that I never thought would step foot into CedarCreek or anything other church—I think that what CedarCreek is doing is exciting.”

READ…What does the Bible say?
Matthew 6:19-21 (New Living Translation)
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

1 Peter 4:10 (New Living Translation)
God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

LIVE…What will you do now?
Friday is generally associated with payday. When we receive our wages for the work that we’ve done, we usually begin spending it on things important to us. The money that we spend reflects what we believe to be important. Take a look at your bank account. How do you feel about where you’ve spent your money over the past week?

An investment is “anything worth contributing to now, that might be profitable in the future.” What are you investing in these days?

How are you investing in making a difference for the kingdom of God? What is your motivation; AND, what do you hope happens as a result of your investment?

THE FINAL EXAM… Are you prepared?
At some point we will all “meet our Maker.” Bob Buford suggests that, in anticipation of that day, we all be prepared to answer the following 2 questions:
1. Most importantly, what did you do about Jesus—did you accept or reject him?

2. Then, what did you do with the time, treasure and talents you were given— that God prepared for you long ago (not Billy Graham or Mother Theresa—YOU!)?

Weekend Updates — Check out the ATC for more details!
• Financial Peace University Registration Open Now! Over one million people have taken FPU and learned how to pay off debt and save for the future. This 13- week seminar begins in September. Registration deadline is August 31st!
Are you single? Coming this September: A new, four–week seminar called “The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating” at all CedarCreek.tv campuses!

Get connected to these organizations! Make a Difference!
• Hannah’s Socks: www.hannahssocks.org or call 419.931.4757 to volunteer
• Vision Kitchen (serves meals in Toledo’s South End on Mon, Wed and Fri):
You can sign up to volunteer by going to www.mysignup.com and entering
“visionkitchen@cedarcreek.tv” in the “searching for sign-up” option. You can
sign up for the date, time slot and job assignment. Questions? Contact Steve at
419.494.6744.
• Dove Fund: Email: fgrimm@dovefund.org/ www.dovefund.org

Homepointe Family Activity
Big Point: God created you and has a plan for your life!
Read: Ephesians 2:10 and Jeremiah 29:11.
Activity: Share the following (You need a patchwork quilt and some fabric scraps):
I would like to show you this quilt. Isn’t it beautiful? Just look at all of the beautiful colors and interesting designs. It wasn’t always that way. At one time these were just a bunch of useless bits and pieces of material. Then someone, a master quilt maker, took those bits and pieces of material and put together this beautiful quilt. Now they are not only beautiful, but useful as well.
When I saw this beautiful quilt, I decided we should try to make a quilt like this one. I brought a lot of scraps of material. Now, I will need your help in making this quilt. I am going to count to three. As soon as I say, “Three,” I want all of you to yell, “Bang!” When you say, “Bang,” we will throw all of these scraps of material up in the air and when they come down, they will make a beautiful quilt.
Okay are you ready? “One, two, three!” (Throw all the pieces of fabric up into the air.) Hey, it didn’t work! How many of you thought it would work? How many of you thought that was one of the dumbest ideas you have ever heard? Well, I agree. It is foolish to think that I could throw these pieces of cloth up in the air and that they would fall down and make a quilt.
Lesson: I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe you and I are here by accident either. I believe this world and everything in it was created by God and that God had a plan and a purpose for everything. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11 , “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” The Bible also tells us in Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Just its maker had a plan when creating this quilt, God has a plan for your life. He is the Master Designer. All you have to do is just give your life to Him and He will take all the bits and piece of your life and make them into something beautiful and useful.
Pray: Thank God for creating you with a purpose, and ask Him to take the bits and pieces of your life and make them it into something beautiful. Then ask Him to help you discover and do the good works you were created for!

Living It Out: Scripture Memory August 2011
Ephesians 2:9-10 (New Living Translation)
Salvation is not a reward for the good things
we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
10 For we are God’s masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the
good things he planned for us long ago.

Living It Out
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:
The Bible

Old Testament
Commentary compiled by: Rick Kinney

Homepointe Family Activity: Jamey Koralewski

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Doug Haynam
Jamey Koralewski
Barb Roose
Terri Seagert

Daily Bible Reading Commentary: Leviticus 25-27
25:1-55 Proper care for the Lord’s property is prescribed for the sabbatical year and the Jubilee year. This involves revitalization of the land. The seventh year of rest would invigorate and replenish the nutrients in the soil. Whatever grew naturally was free to all for the taking.
26:1-26 The covenant blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience are elaborated. A provision for repentance is also offered.
27:1-34 Standard legislation is given for persons, animals, houses and lands.
27:30-32 “tithe…” This general tithe was given to the Levites. This is the only mention of tithe or ten percent in Leviticus. However, along with this offering, there were two other Old Testament tithes which totaled about twenty-three percent annually. The other two tithes mentioned are in Deuteronomy 14:22, 28,-29.