Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.14.11

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Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: So This Is Christmas

WEDNESDAY— He is Our Everlasting Father
Big Point: Our Everlasting Father will never leave us, always forgive us and has an eternal place for us.

Jesus, the Everlasting Father, Gives us life, Provides for us, Cares about us, Forever.

        Nineteenth century minister Charles Spurgeon writes: “How complex is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ! Almost in the same breath the prophet calls him a “child,” a “counselor,” a “son,” and “the everlasting Father.” This is no contradiction, and to us scarcely a paradox, but it is a mighty marvel that he who was an infant should at the same time be infinite. He who was the Man of Sorrows should also be God over all, blessed forever; and that he who is in the Divine Trinity always called the Son, should nevertheless be correctly called “the everlasting Father.” (Metropolitan Pulpit Vol. 12 p. 838)
        Everlasting Father in Hebrew signifies just what it does in English: a father forever. Jesus is not just in the past tense. He is the everlasting Father. He will never abandon us and he loves us like only a Father can. Adapted from “Everlasting Father” by Bruce Goettsche.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Hebrews 13:5 (New Living Translation)
Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”

John 14:1-3 (New Living Translation)
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Luke 15:20  (New Living Translation)
…And while he was still a long way off…filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.

THINK…Find the answers
What promise does God give us in Hebrews 13:5? What does He say we are supposed to be satisfied with?

According John 14:1, how are we supposed to divert our hearts from being troubled?

What are we told in John 14:3 that Jesus will do when everything is ready?

No matter what we do, Luke 15:20 implies that Jesus will always approach in that way?

LIVE…What will you do now?
God said He will never abandon you. He shows us that He will always meet our needs as an everlasting Father. List the ways God has recently provided for you:


Some of us struggle with the term “father” in our personal lives because of the way our earthly father treated us. List the needs you wanted from your earthly father that you never received (know that these are the very needs our Heavenly father can fulfill…ask God for His help and fatherly love today):


During the Christmas season, it is easy to get caught up in the stories about Jesus in the past. But because of what happened in Bethlehem, on Calvary, and at the tomb, we now get to experience a relationship with God in the present. What’s stopping you from having a relationship with Him right now?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
It is important to remember that God is the Everlasting Father only to those who are part of His family in Christ. If you are one of His children, close your eyes and imagine Him wrapping His fatherly arms around you, and thank Jesus for being a father forever. If you are ready to become a part of that family today, pray and confess your sins to God and ask for His forgiveness.

Enemy opposition and difficult times in general had precipitated economic conditions which had a devastating effect on Judah’s fragile life. The effect of this extortion on the morale of the returnees was worse than the enemy opposition.
5:14-16 Nehemiah was a politician without greed. Nehemiah faced a daunting task many leaders of developing countries face today. The land was devastated, with all wealth concentrated in the hands of a few powerful families. Jews were mortgaging their property and even selling their children into slavery in order to raise money to pay taxes. Nehemiah could have profited from his political position. Instead, he set a sterling example of generosity and self-sacrifice that made a profound impression on his oppressed countrymen.
6:5-9 After fending off ridicule and threats of violence from his enemies, Nehemiah suddenly faced a new scare tactic. Opponents were trying to intimidate Nehemiah by openly spreading rumors. Nehemiah was not intimidated.
8:10-12 “the joy of the Lord is your strength…” The event called for a holy day of worship to prepare them for the hard days ahead, so they were encouraged to rejoice. The words they had heard reminded them that God punishes sin, but also that God blesses obedience, which was reason to celebrate.
9:3 “they stood…read…confessed and worshiped…” The succession of events helped to reestablish the essential commitment of Israel to God and His law.
9:21 “they lacked nothing…” Even during a long season of chastisement, God miraculously cared for their every need.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.13.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.13.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: So This Is Christmas

TUESDAY — Mighty God, Empower Me!
Big Point: Our Mighty God empowers us to serve others and tell people about Him.

Evidence of the power of Jesus:
• His Miracles
• His Victory over
• His Death
• His Resurrection

           Saying that Jesus is powerful or mighty loses some of its potency when we consider how often we use these words. Consider how often we call someone a powerful leader. We might say a nation has a mighty army or that an athlete is a power hitter or a power forward. We congratulate someone on a powerful speech and drive away in our vehicle with its powerful engine. But Jesus has the power over all creation. Jesus has the power over all angels and spiritual beings. Jesus has supreme authority. Jesus was clear about his identity—Jesus is God. We kneel before him along with all of heaven and earth.
        For us, this means two huge things: Jesus is who he says he is and he can do what he promised to do. Jesus promised to send his Spirit to be with us, to guide and to transform us. He promised to give us what we need and to prepare a place for us where he is. Jesus promised to always be with us. Jesus will also give us the strength and the power to tell the world about him. (See John 16:13, Matthew 6:33, John 14:3, Matthew 28:20 to read more about these promises.) Adapted from “Mighty God” by Bruce Goettsche.

READ…What does the Bible say?
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.

Acts 1:8 (New Living Translation)
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

THINK…Find the answers
What does God give each of us according to 1 Peter 4:10? Why do you believe God gives these things to us?

In Acts 1:8, what are we told that we receive when the Holy Spirit comes upon us, and what should we do when we receive it? Where should we be His witnesses?

LIVE…What will you do now?
What spiritual gifts has God given you? Which spiritual gifts would you like to develop more?

Not sure what your spiritual gifts are?
Take an online Spiritual Gifts class. Go to under the “get connected tab.”

CedarCreek’s mission statement relates to Acts 1:8 for a reason. How familiar are you with our mission statement? Take a moment to write it here (stuck? go to CedarCreek. tv homepage).

God gives us opportunities every day to serve others and to be His witnesses. Make a quick list of who you may possibly see today. What will you do and what opportunities will you have to be a witness? Review this list with God and ask for the Holy Spirit to give you the power to follow through and be a witness.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in sharing your faith? Are you having a hard time believing our Mighty God can empower you? If so, explain why?

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to empower you to remain committed to serving others and telling the world about Him. Pray to let go of your own strength, to be transformed by God’s power, and to be used for God’s purpose.

1:3 “the wall of Jerusalem is broken down…” The opposition had successfully thwarted the Jews’ attempts to reestablish Jerusalem as a distinctively Jewish city capable of withstanding its enemies’ assaults.
1:4 “sat down and wept…mourned for many days…” Although Nehemiah was neither a prophet nor a priest, he had a deep sense of Jerusalem’s significance to God and was greatly distressed that affairs there had not advanced the cause and glory of God.
1:5 “awesome God who keeps his covenant…” After seventy years of captivity in Babylon, God kept His promise to restore His people to the Promised Land.
1:8 “remember…” Not a reminder to God as if He had forgotten, but a plea to activate His Word.
2:2 “I was very much afraid…” Nehemiah feared that his countenance, his explanation, or his request would anger the king and lead to his death.
2:7 “may I have letters…” Official letters transferred a portion of the king’s authority to Nehemiah. In this context, he needed to pass through the lands of Judah’s enemies who could harm him or prevent him from rebuilding Jerusalem.
2:20 “the God of heaven…” Not only did Nehemiah have the king’s permission and was not rebelling, but he had God’s protection.
4:4, 5 Nehemiah’s dependence on his sovereign God is never more evident than in his prayer.
4:10 “so much rubble…” The prior destruction of the city left many ruins that had to be cleared away before any significant progress could be made on the rebuilding of the walls.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.12.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.12.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: So This Is Christmas


“So this is Christmas And what have you done? Another year over, a new one just begun.

      Christmas is a season of great expectations, built on one of the greatest moments of anticipation in human experience—the birth of a child. During those moments, the hearts of parents and loved ones are filled with joy and hope looking at the fresh face of new life. What will this person be like? What will he accomplish in life? What will she love? What will her passion be?
Almost immediately, however, new parents are confronted with one of their most important and often agonizing tasks—what will the name be? After months of debate, there is probably a short list, whittled down from endless possibilities because of that one guy you knew with that name who was really weird or stereotypes that might be associated with it or the worst—the terrible rhyming nickname! Some names are immediately dismissed. They just don’t seem to fit. When the baby is born, many parents try on a few names and a moment comes when they just know this is the right one.
As much as we care about names, the people of the Bible cared even more. Names were most often picked because of the meaning of the name. We read in several places where people had their names changed as a result of their new relationship with God (Abram became Abraham; Jacob became Israel, Simon became Peter, and Saul became Paul). Other people were given names that were to represent various truths (consider the zany names of the children of Hosea, or the symbolic names of the children of Joseph). So when we read names in the Bible we can understand they have not been selected simply because they “sound cool.”
According to Naves Topical Bible, the Bible contains more than 250 names for Jesus. This week we will look more closely at four of these names so that we can know Jesus even better. These names describe who Jesus is, why he came to earth, and his relationship to us. Isaiah 9:6 reads, “For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The names of Jesus act like a “to do list” of sorts. They can help you understand the different aspects of work that God wants to do in your life. Jesus is Wonderful— you no longer have to look for cheap substitutes for life fulfillment. Jesus is Counselor—you no longer have to be baffled by the problems you face in this life. Jesus is Mighty God—you no longer have to battle the demands of life by your own strength. Jesus is Everlasting Father—you are no longer alone. Jesus is the Prince of Peace—you no longer are just a consequence of the things that have gone wrong in the world or in your life. This LIO study will break these names down even further. Take time to think about the baby that was born to us as the Savior of the world and the importance each name brings.
Adapted from “What’s in a Name?” by Greg Laurie

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear.


MONDAY — Wonderful Counselor—Just What We Need
Big Point: Our Wonderful Counselor will listen to you and guide you.

        Have you ever been given unsolicited advice by someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about? Perhaps it goes a little something like this: You’re single and all your married friends try to tell you how to meet people. You’re married and all your married friends tell you how to run your marriage. You’re struggling with depression and someone tells you to snap out of it. You’re trying to get past a loss and someone tells you to just move on.
       These bits of advice can be patronizing and infuriating at times. Many people believe they are being helpful but their words can be cutting, and sometimes push you away. Maybe these words were not coming from a wise counselor.
        In Hebrews 4, Jesus is referred to as one who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, who was tempted in every way just as we were but who was without sin. This is an essential part of the Christmas message. One purpose of Jesus’ being human on earth was to face what we face and experience humanness. Isaiah 9:6 identifies Jesus by the name, Wonderful Counselor and it is because of his willingness to become human he earned this great title.

READ…What does the Bible say?
1 Peter 5:6-7 (New International Version)
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Mark 9:7 (New Living Translation)
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”

THINK…Find the answers
According to 1 Peter 5:6 why should we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God? Verse 6 also says to humble yourself before casting your anxiety onto Jesus. How might humility and anxiety be related in this case? What does the voice from the cloud tell us to do in Mark 9:7?

LIVE…What will you do now?
How many times might you need to cast your anxieties onto Jesus? Weekly? Daily? Hourly? How often do you think Jesus would be willing to listen? Why is this essential to living life to fullest?

In Jesus, it is possible for:
a rebel to be brought to faith
a criminal to be turned in a new direction
an atheist to become a believer
a person who seems to have everything to see that they have nothing apart from Christ
a religious person to stop trusting in their own goodness and start trusting Jesus
   Bruce Goettsche

1 Peter 5:7 says that Jesus cares for you. In what other ways has Christ shown that he cares for you? Create a list of things.

It is important to have others in our lives who can give us wise counsel. List the people in your life from whom you receive wise counsel and why you deem them to be wise counselor.

If you don’t have any wise counsel in your life, write out the areas in which a wise counselor might be helpful.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Thank God for allowing you to cast your anxieties onto Him. Ask Him to reveal to you how He is caring for you. Thank Him for the birth of His son so that he might know what is to be fully human and become our Wonderful Counselor. Ask Him to bring people into your life who can give you wise counsel.

1“the vision of Obadiah…” Although the background of this prophet is obscure, the source of his message is not. The vision was supernaturally given by God without any other motives. “Edom…” the Edomites are the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. This book is the first of only two (Jonah being the other) Minor Prophets who addressed their message to someone other than Israel or Judah.
2 “I will make you small…” God sovereignly rules over all nations.
3, 4 “the pride of your heart…” Edom’s pride was answered decisively by the Lord. The calamity against Edom, though brought by her enemies, was truly God’s judgment of her pride.
3 “live in the clefts of the rock…” Dwelling in difficult mountain terrain, Edom was virtually inaccessible, giving her a sense of security and self-sufficiency.
5, 6 “robbers in the night…” Because of the rugged terrain and very narrow access through the gorges, a predatory attack could only come at night. Edom’s attackers, by divine judgment, would not stop where normal thieves would, instead they left nothing. 7 Those conspiring against Edom were her allies, her neighbors, and even the outlying tribes who benefited from Edom’s prosperity.
15 “day of the Lord…” God’s near judgment of Edom in history was a preview of his far judgment on all nations who refuse to bow to His sovereignty.
21 “the kingdom shall be the Lord’s…” When the nations are judged in the final Day of the Lord, God will then set up His millennial kingdom, a theocracy in which God rules His people directly on earth.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.09.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.09.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: Where Are You Christmas

FRIDAY — Do you know where your Christmas is?
Big Point: It’s possible to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ every day of the year!

Our hope is that after doing this week’s LIO study, you are no longer asking the question, “Where are you Christmas?” but instead, you’ve been encouraged to remember that God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself has personal application and meaning to your life.
How can it be possible for us to live out the Good News of Jesus Christ every day of the year? Is it even possible? It is! When you share your story of how God’s gift of salvation provided through Jesus Christ has changed your life, you are a part of God’s reconciling work in the world.
At CedarCreek we exist to help spiritually restless and unchurched people learn to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ. For those who are totally into our mission statement, we challenge them to become Missional Members of CedarCreek, which is the highest level of commitment at our church. Missional Members commit (promise) to live out our mission—meaning they are living out the Christmas message of God reconciling the world to Himself every single day!

REFLECT…What have you learned this week?
1. What are the two most important things you took away from this week’s study?


2. What verse has inspired or encouraged you most this week? Why?



3. As you reflect on God’s plan to reconcile the world to Himself through the Good News of Jesus Christ, how are you a part of His plan?


4. At CedarCreek, we believe that God has called us to work together to share the Good News with all of the world. That’s why we ask you to invite others to church and we work hard to make sure our weekend services are an inviting place to share the gospel message with those who are lost and hurting. Who can you invite to church to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?


For more information about Missional Membership, go to our website under the “Get Connected” tab. Challenge yourself to living a life of loving Jesus, serving others and telling the world about Christ!

Weekend Updates!
Did you pray to accept Christ on Tuesday? Get a New Believer’s Bible: If you prayed the prayer on Tuesday and you are looking for a next step, go to the Welcome Center/Connecting Point and ask for a New Believer’s Bible. Check out under the get connected tab to learn about getting connected to a LifeGroup.

South Toledo Opens December 10th and 11th: Let’s Celebrate! Congratulations to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly at the South Toledo campus. South Toledo will open just in time for the “big change;” which is one Saturday service at 6pm. Sunday services remain the same, 9am, 10:45am, and 12:30pm.

Do you enjoy inspiring people with your writing? If so, we’d love for you to share your gift of writing by joining the Living it Out team. Attend an informational meeting this Sunday, Dec 11 at 10:45am. If you are unable to attend the informational meeting, feel free to contact Diana at or call 419.661.8661 for ways to get involved.

Who will you Invite? There are 45 Christmas services, December 22-24th. Who will you bring with you?

Fabulous is Back! Ladies, if you are still reminiscing about the last Fabulous conference, savor the memories but think ahead because Fabulous is back! Mark your calendar for May 17 and 18, 2012. This year’s theme is “Fabulous in Women’s Work.” For more information or to register, visit the web page or inquire at any Welcome Center/Connecting point.

Living It Out: *NEW* December 2011
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of  David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:10-11 (New International Version)

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, where you can subscribe
to have any or all of them emailed to you as they are updated.

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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.

Old Testament Commentary compiled by: Rick Kinney

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

6:22 “changed the heart of the king of Assyria…” By turning the heart of the king in their favor in allowing them to complete the rebuilding, God encouraged His people.
7:11 “copy of the letter…” The letter was addressed to Ezra because the decree recorded therein was the critical administrative document. Decrees were commonly embedded in letters. This allowed Ezra to read it to its intended audience.
9:15 “here we are before you…” All were reckoned guilty and had no right to stand in God’s presence, yet they came penitently seeking the grace of forgiveness.
10:1 “confessing, weeping, throwing himself down…” Ezra’s contrite spirit before the people was evident, and they joined him. These extreme expressions of contrition demonstrated the seriousness of their sin and the genuineness of their repentance.
10:7 “they issued a proclamation…” A proclamation was delivered orally by a herald. It often had the force of the law, as did this one. Not participating in the assembly meant not just losing your property but being ostracized from Israel.
10:12-14 “all…many people…” This demonstrates how widespread this sin was among the people.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.08.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.08.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: Where Are You Christmas

THURSDAY — One Day All the Tears Will Go Away
Big Point: Christians have hope because our suffering will pale in comparison to what God has in store for us.

        Here is a portion of an article titled, “Why Does God Allow Suffering” from former atheist, now well-known pastor and author, Lee Strobel: “Imagine that on the first day of the year, you had a horrible time — you had a horrendous toothache, your stock portfolio plummeted, you crashed your new car. But then each and every one of the remaining 364 days of 2001 was filled with incredible joy. Your stocks rebounded and you made twenty million dollars; you had an idyllic vacation in Tahiti; you got the dream job you’ve always wanted; your daughter gave birth to your first grandchild and named the child after you; you were selected the state’s Person of the Year. Each day is blissful and wonderful.
        Now, imagine that at the end of the year someone asks you, ‘How was 2001 for you?’ You’d undoubtedly reply, ‘It was terrific!’ The friend might ask, ‘But didn’t it start out bad?’ “You’d say, ‘Yes, you’re right. I can’t deny that. But when I look at the totality of the year, putting everything into context, it’s been great! The 364 wonderful days far outweighed the one bad day.’
        The same is true for heaven—even after a hard life, a life of struggles and difficulties, after the equivalent of 154,563,467 days of pure bliss in the presence of God Almighty in heaven — with infinite more days to come — if someone asked, ‘How has your existence been?’ you’d exclaim enthusiastically, ‘It has been absolutely wonderful!’ If the person inquired, ‘But didn’t you have a tough time before you got to heaven?’ you’d reply, ‘Well, yes, that’s true. I can’t deny that. But when I put everything into context, in light of all God’s outpouring of goodness to me, those momentary bad days aren’t even worth comparing with the eternity of blessings and joy that I’ve experienced!’

READ…What does the Bible say?
John 14:1-3 (New Living Translation)
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

Revelation 21:4 (New Living Translation)
4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

THINK…Find the answers
Read John 14:1-3 and the commentary about this passage of scripture. Jesus knew that we would be facing tremendous difficulties in this life. What comfort does Jesus offer believers in John 14:1-3?

What did you think about today’s introductory story? Revelation 21:4 contains a promise to all who place their faith in Jesus Christ. Once we leave this earth, why is it that all pain, death, and sadness flees forever?

Commentary on John 14:1-3:
This passage starts what is called Jesus’ “Farewell Discourse” where He gives His most passionate and important instructions to His Disciples and us. Here, Jesus is not consumed with His own coming agony, but rather turns attention to his disciples and their needs. Jesus comforts, encourages, admonishes, and coaches them. He warns them not only of his impending death, but also of the trials they will face in building the Kingdom. He shows us that He is the way, the role of the Holy Spirit, the importance of our connectivity to Him to produce faith and fruit – and that even in persecution, we will always be comforted as we remain in him. (from intothyword. org)

LIVE…What will you do now?
Look at Revelation 21:4 again. What sadness, pain, or sorrow will you be glad to be rid of when you get to heaven one day?

How do you feel knowing that if you are a follower of Jesus Christ, that there will come a time when you will no longer feel pain or sorrow about the things that happened in this life?

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
Jesus understands what you are going through today—but Jesus also knows what eternal joy and peace await those who live their life in faith to him. In your prayer time today, focus on Jesus’ promises to you for the future and thank him.

1:5 “whose hearts God had moved…” The primary underlying message of Ezra and Nehemiah is that the sovereign hand of God is at work in perfect keeping with His plan at His appointed time. God stirred up not only the spirit of Cyrus to make the decree, but His own people to go and build up Jerusalem and the temple.
3:3 “fear of the peoples around them…” The settlers who had come to occupy the land during the seventy years of Israel’s absence were deportees brought in from other countries by the Assyrians and the Babylonians. These inhabitants saw the Jews as a threat and quickly wanted to undermine their allegiance to God.
3:12 “who had seen the former temple…” The temple built by Solomon.
4:1 “the enemies of Judah…” These were Israel’s enemies in the region who resisted their reestablishment.
4:2 “have been sacrificing to him…” This claim was falsely made by the Samaritans who had developed a superstitious form of worshiping God.
4:5 “frustrate their plans…” This caused a sixteen year delay. As a result, the people took more interest in their personal affairs than spiritual matters.
4:21 “issue an order to stop…” This command was not a small order for one or two workers, but the efforts of 50,000 were called to a halt. This decree would not lose its authority until the king established a new decree.
5:5 “the eye of God was watching…” God’s hand of protection which led this endeavor allowed the work to continue while official communication was ongoing with the king.


Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.07.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.07.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: Where Are You Christmas

WEDNESDAY— God is reconciling the world through us
Big Point: We are God’s Ambassadors and as His Ambassadors we are to tell others how Jesus has changed our lives so that others will meet God through us.

        In this week’s message Lee talked about the “Changed Life Stories” file he has that he regularly reflects on and refers to. One of the most amazing changed life stories found in scripture is the apostle Paul’s.

         No person, apart from Jesus himself, shaped the history of Christianity like the apostle Paul. Even before he was a believer, his actions were significant. His persecution of Christians got the church to start obeying Christ’s final command…. to take the gospel worldwide. Paul was very religious. His intentions and efforts were sincere. He was a good Pharisee who knew the Bible and sincerely believed that the Christian movement was dangerous to Judaism. Thus, he hated the Christian faith and persecuted Christians without mercy.           

        Paul got permission to travel to Damascus to capture Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem, but God stopped him in his tracks on the road to Damascus. Paul personally met Jesus Christ and his life was never again the same.

        God did not waste any part of Paul—his background, his training, his citizenship, his mind, and even his weaknesses. The lives Paul touched were changed and challenged by meeting Christ through him. Are you willing to let God do the same to you? You will never know all He can do with you until you allow Him to have all that you are.

READ…What does the Bible say?
2 Corinthians 5:19b (New Living Translation)
….And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 (New Living Translation)
So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

Ephesians 6:20 (New Living Translation)
I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Colossians 1:6 (New Living Translation)
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

THINK…Find the answers
Read 2 Corinthians 5:20. What are we to Christ? How do we speak for Christ?

In Colossians 1:6 what happens when the Good News bears fruit? What can we do to help bring about change in others?

LIVE…What will you do now?
An Ambassador is an official representative of one country to another. As an Ambassador of Christ, what can you do to represent him?

Paul gave all of himself to Christ without any reservations. Perhaps you want to give more of yourself– to serve, tithe, or minister to others. What is blocking or preventing you from giving all of yourself to Christ?

Christ’s final command was to take the gospel message to the entire world. List 3 ways you can tell others about Jesus Christ (hints: just go fishing, grab a cup of coffee—just hang out with them and listen, give them an invite card):

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Pray and ask God to use all of you to spread the gospel. Praise and thank Him for sending the person or people that He sent to you that told you about Jesus.

Agreement #1
We agree that the cause of the church is the greatest cause on the planet.
(Matthew 28:19-20, Matthew 6:33)
CedarCreek’s Five Agreements

5:10-13 The fabric of justice had been destroyed, causing pervasive corruption “in the gates,” the place where justice was administered.
5:14, 15 These righteous conditions necessary to turn back God’s fastapproaching judgment.
5:16, 17 Looking back at the previous accusations, Amos pictured the people mourning as the Lord passed through their midst, executing His sentence of judgment.
6:3-8 The Lord profiles the sinful and despicable lifestyle of the people whom He will judge.
7:3 “the Lord relented…” This is similar to what the Lord did when Abraham pleaded over Sodom in Genesis 18.
7:14-16 “not a prophet…word of the Lord…” Amos declares that he was a farmer by occupation, but that God had spoken through him and Israel desperately needed to listen.
8:8 “stirred up and sink like the river in Egypt…” Like the Nile River, which annually provided water and rich soil deposits for farmers by greatly overflowing its banks, judgment would overflow the land of Israel for the unrighteous arrogance of the nation.
8:11, 12 During prosperity, the nation rejected the prophets; captivity allows no word from the Lord. What they once had in abundance and had rejected, they now desperately wanted but could not find, no matter how far they searched.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.06.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.06.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: Where Are You Christmas

TUESDAY — God is Reconciling the World to Himself
Big Point: Despite our reckless, senseless behavior, despite a bad economy, homelessness, war or just plain ‘ole day-to-day struggles, God is repairing and restoring this world to Himself.

         Think back on your deepest, most ugly act. Something you would probably be embarrassed to talk about. Getting drunk and doing something crazy. Living lustfully, only thinking of yourself and fulfilling your own desires with destructive behaviors. What if your actions caused harm to someone—perhaps you lashed out in anger or you seriously injured someone (either emotionally or physically) and it left such a deep wound that they are having a hard time forgiving you. Or perhaps you were the one who was harmed and you have since chosen to hold onto unforgiveness. Perhaps you’ve held onto this unforgiveness for so long that the wedge between you and the other person seems so thick that you can’t even see how you can ever forgive them — for one reason or another. Think about it … what is your ugliest sin? (Oh, and by the way, all the above actions make for great TV shows and box-office movie hits. Have you noticed that?)
          Don’t have any ugly sins? Think about someone you read about in the paper or saw on the news where they may have killed someone or done something so terrible, so heinous that it’s even hard to think about.
         Then, think about yourself, or that someone you are thinking about, accepting Christ as their personal savior. Do you know that at that very moment, it’s as if God takes a washcloth and blots away all of those deep, dark, terrible, ugly sins and scars. In an instant! At the very moment we accept God, He brings us back to himself… He reconciles us and makes us righteous. In fact, that is what he is doing with the world we live in.

READ…What does the Bible say?
2 Corinthians 5:19a (New Living Translation)
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sin against them …

Colossians 1:22 (New Living Translation)
Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

Romans 5:10 (New Living Translation)
For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.

THINK…Find the answers
According to 2 Corinthians 5:19a, what is that God no longer counts against us?

In fact, Romans 5:10 says our friendship with God was restored by what act? Colossians 1:22 is like a Christmas gift. What did we receive as a result of Christ’s death in his physical body?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Reconciliation is the process of repairing and restoring a damaged relationship. The fact remains, no one is good enough to save him or herself.

In what ways are you relying on your own methods to restore your relationship with Christ? In what way is God using you (or the church) to reconcile the world to Himself?

Realize this; you will sin repeatedly, this we can guarantee. But we can also guarantee that Christ has repaired and restored our damaged relationship with him. Write out the steps you took and the day you decided to accept Christ as your personal savior … then, share it with one or two people.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
If you have not already accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, perhaps today’s Bible study has encouraged you. If so, read this prayer: Lord, I confess that you are Lord and I believe in my heart that God raised Christ from the dead, and I accept him as my personal savior. Please forgive me of all of my sins. (Note: Read the weekend updates to learn about next steps)

Amos was a Judean prophet called to deliver a message primarily to the northern tribes of Israel. Politically, it was a time of prosperity for Israel. Spiritually, however, it was a time of rampant corruption and moral decay.
1:6 “Gaza…” Philistia’s most prominent merchant city ideally situated between Egypt and Israel, here used to refer to the Philistine nation.
1:9 “treaty of brotherhood…” A long-standing, brotherly relationship existed between Phoenicia and Israel. No king of Israel ever made war against Phoenicia, especially the two major cities, Tyre and Sidon.
1:11 “pursued his brother…” More than mere fighting, Edom pursued his brother, i.e. Israel, stifling any feelings of compassion.
2:4 “Judah…” Now that the prophet Amos had finished with his judgments against the surrounding pagan nations, he proceeded to address Judah.
3:2 “You only have I chosen…” God’s sovereign choice of Israel did not exempt her from punishment for disobedience.
3:7 Judgment is coming, but the Lord graciously warned the nation in advance through His prophets.
4:4, 5
With poignant sarcasm, Amos indicted Israel for idolatrous sacrifices and ritualistic religion, all of which were meaningless and worthless to the Lord.
4:5 “burn leavened bread…” Although unleavened bread was required for most offerings, leavened was required as a part of the thanksgiving offering.
4:6-11 Past warnings of famine, drought, crop failure, a plague, and military defeat were futile, a fact repeatedly emphasized by the statement, “yet you have not returned to me”.

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 12.05.11

Click here to download a printable version of the Daily Bible Study for 12.05.11.

Series: My Christmas Playlist
This Week: Where Are You Christmas

Whether we may wish to admit it or not, most people like “Hallmark stories” or they’d like to delight in a “Hallmark moment.” Now, we do realize that if given a choice between ESPN and the Hallmark channel, some would opt for ESPN. But if you dig a little deeper, their hearts would likely say Hallmark channel.

What is a Hallmark story? It’s when tragedy strikes a family, group of friends, or a community of people and a great deal of trials and drama is endured. But in the end, the story turns out positive and the people grow from the experience.

Take Brad and Christine Kisabeth’s story that was shown this past weekend. Brad and Christine shared that at one time, they were living the middle-American dream. They lived in a nice house, had great jobs, cars, and they were even fortunate enough to be able to give to others. But then, tragedy struck. Brad got very sick, medical bills piled up and Brad eventually lost his job. As a result, they found they needed to sell a lot of family possessions and give up their home just to make ends meet. As the provider of the home, Brad began to feel like he had failed his family as they continued to struggle, week-to-week, just trying to get food and gas. But eventually, as they began to grow closer to Christ, gift cards started coming in the mail, money started showing up, and they found their needs were being met. Granted, they weren’t getting what they necessarily wanted, but they were getting just what they needed to live. Times were tremendously difficult adjusting to this new way of living, but Brad and his entire family believe that this tragedy was necessary to allow God to draw them closer to Him! A Hallmark story, indeed! Wouldn’t you agree?

The above story could have turned out differently, and sometimes they do. Which brings us to the same question that Lee shared during the “Broken” series of messages last month, “Why does God allow suffering?” … especially to seemingly good people like the Kisabeth’s? Lee took this question a step further in light of the upcoming Christmas season and we know many of you are asking (or could be asked) this same question: “How do we reconcile the good news of Christmas with the bad news of the world?” We find ourselves asking the same question that Cindy Lou asked and sang in How the Grinch Stole Christmas “Where are you Christmas?” Some of us have suffered quite a bit; we’ve lost loved ones, lost jobs, our lives are in crisis, and we just can’t seem to get all excited about Christmas.
Well, we have good news. God has a plan! He truly does. You can read about a wonderful message that an angel gave in Luke 2:10-11 to let us know that our Savior was born and we don’t have to be afraid. What a blessed assurance!

This week’s LIO is intended for you to dig into the wonderful promise, and hope we have in Christ. It’s exciting to know that God is reconciling the world to Himself and through us, and He’s planning a huge party for us. The Kisabeth’s recognized this awesome promise and we pray that through this study, you do too.

“Know that you do not stand alone in this world where it seems that
good is always trying to be overrun by evil. God stands by your side and
continually fights for you. Together with Him, you will be victorious.”
The Whisper of God

MONDAY — God Has a Plan
Big Point:
If you love and serve God, breathe a sigh of relief. God has a plan for you, and He will work whatever you are going through for the good and give you everything you need, making everyday feel like Christmas!

          Have you ever experienced airplane turbulence? Anyone who’s made more than a few flights has almost surely had at least one bumpy ride when the airplane felt like a car on a rough road, except that the airplane might have rolled from side to side as well as bouncing up and down – about thirty thousand feet in the air. Even if you’ve never ridden in an airplane or experienced turbulence, we are sure you can only imagine how scary that must feel. Think about it, what would you begin thinking in that exact moment, just as the turbulence hits? It’s likely you would hope that the pilot has a plan to deal with the issue.
          Think about the 155 passengers on board the flight where Captain “Sully” successfully landed the U.S. Airways plane on the Hudson River, saving everyone’s life. You best believe they were hoping that their flight captain had a plan.
          Our lives are no different. When we are in the thick of despair, tragedy and crisis, or we are on a plane experiencing turbulence, we can rest assured ourselves that our captain, God, has a plan. In fact, He has a masterful plan for our lives. This plan does not guarantee that all that happens to us is good, but that God is able to turn every circumstance around for our longrange good. God wants us to know that whether we experience reward or punishment, happiness or discomfort—His plan is good. Now that’s a gift that keeps on giving … making us feel like it’s Christmas every single day of our lives.

READ…What does the Bible say?
Ephesians 1:11 (New Living Translation)
11 Furthermore, because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God, for he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan.

Ephesians 1:9-10 (The Message)
… He thought of everything, provided for everything we could possibly need, letting us in on the plans he took such delight in making. He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.

Romans 8:28 (New Living Translation)
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Genesis 50:20 (New Living Translation)
You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.

“If there is love in your heart and your mind
You will feel like Christmas all the time.”
Song, “Where are you Christmas?”

THINK…Find the answers
What is it that Ephesians 1:11 and Romans 8:28 tell us that we have received from God? And if we love God and are called to His purpose, what will He cause everything that happens in our lives to do?

In Genesis 50:20, Joseph talked about how his brothers intended something for evil but God intended it for the good … so that Joseph, and we, can do what?

What does Ephesians 1:9-10 say that God thought of with regard to our lives? What does He say He will give us… everything we want or everything we need?

LIVE…What will you do now?
Describe a struggle you are currently going through and how you can transfer any thoughts of despair to Christ-affirming thoughts that God has a plan for your life?

Think back on your life. List a couple of ways you’ve seen how God has taken what you’ve gone through and used it for the good, for His purpose?


PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you to wake-up every day recognizing the gift that He has given you: that He has a masterful plan for your life.

33:11-17 God’s retribution for Manasseh’s evil was swift. Manasseh apparently repented, but the spiritual damage was not easily reversed.
33:12, 14 “Manasseh knew…” Although Manasseh was very wicked, idolatrous and a murderer of children, God graciously forgave this “chief of sinners” when he repented.
34:1, 2 At the age of sixteen, Josiah began to cultivate a love for God in his heart, and by age twenty his character was strong enough in devotion to Him that he went into action to purge his nation.
34:8 “repair the house of the Lord…” During the 55 year reign of Manasseh and the two-year reign of Amon, the work of Hezekiah on the temple restoration was undone, which called for another extensive enterprise to “repair and restore” it.
34:33 “As long as he lived, they did not fail…” Josiah was a very noble king and had a life-long influence over the nation by the power of his godly life and firm devotion to God and His Word.
35:3 “the sacred ark…” The Ark of the Covenant which was to remain in the Most Holy Place had been removed, probably by Manasseh, who set a carved image in its place. Now that the temple had been restored, Josiah had the ark put back in its place and the poles for transporting removed since there was no longer any need for the ark to be moved.
35:20-27 The details of Josiah’s tragic death are given. When compared with the account in 2 Kings 22:28-30, the events became clearer. Josiah was wounded in battle but made it back to Jerusalem before he died.