Faith and Hope In Real Life

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 11

What does a cancer diagnosis, plus ten months of fervent prayer, plus a tenacious fighter, plus a loving family equal? They equal a recipe for an inspirational story, or so we hope. There are many stories of people believing in God through the hardest circumstances and seeing him move in profound and amazing ways. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer, we knew she would be one of those stories. If anyone could beat cancer it was her. We believed she would win her battle, we prayed for her to win her battle, she fought to win the battle.… she didn’t.

We know that not all circumstances turn out the way we want to or pray for. Life is very seldom “lived happily ever after.” The challenge is not being surprised, disappointed, upset, or confused when hard times do strike. To this day, I still struggle to find the “purpose” in what my mom went through. By earthly standards, when the battle ended, it ended badly. My mom didn’t write books to inspire others. She didn’t get to raise money for a worthy cause. She never got to hear the pitter-patter of her grandkids’ feet or the giggle of their laughter. She didn’t get to accomplish a lot of what she wanted to. Instead, she passed away the day before I got married, and then my dad went off the deep end.

Often, when things don’t go our way, or when things collapse, we run, we blame, we lash out, or we abandon our faith altogether. The strength of our faith is revealed under pressure. The truth of our faith is revealed when our life is shaken by our circumstances. Is my faith in God dependent on the outcome of my circumstances?

The passage for today, Hebrews 11, is often called the “Hall of Faith.” In it, we read about many heroes of the Old Testament and the big things God did as they trusted in him “by faith.” Also, in verse 6, we see how it is our trust in God that pleases him, not our effort. That trust—our faith—has to go beyond the times we see positive outcomes! Faith gives us hope and reminds us of something better, especially when we don’t see the preferred outcome we’re hoping and praying for.

Toward the end of the chapter, the writer speaks to this tension. He is revealing how the faith of the Old Testament saints “turned weakness to strength” by routing armies and “shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death” (v.33-34). Then he abruptly shifts his narrative to those whose lives didn’t have such exciting results.

Hebrews 11:35b-38
35b But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. 36 Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. 37 Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. 38 They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

Verses 39 and 40 assure us that the faith of these martyrs was every bit as pleasing to God. It is just that God had something better planned. These verses should give hope to every Christian who has ever faced or will face a difficult circumstance. With these verses, the writer is wrapping up the entire chapter by reminding us that regardless of how our circumstances turn out, God always has something better for us. That is what each and every person in chapter 11:35-38 longed for, hoped for, yet never got to see come to pass: Jesus. To know God in a personal relationship with his Son, Jesus, is what you and I have the privilege of experiencing.

Hebrews 11 is a reminder that our faith is not about the outcome of the circumstances we face, but instead about who the circumstances are helping us to become. In my mom’s case, she was closer to Jesus at the end of her life than she had ever been previously—and that’s the ultimate inspiration.

Questions:
Are you currently in a situation for which you are not sure what the potential outcome will be? How can you trust God even if the situation doesn’t turn out the way you hope it will?

Next Steps:
Tell God you trust him with your current circumstances, regardless of how they turn out. Invite someone to an Easter service who needs to hear about what it means to trust God.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, knowing you is better than anything this world could offer. Help me trust in you through the circumstances I am facing. I know you love me and will work in and through every situation I face to draw me closer to you and demonstrate your love to this world. Amen.


This post was written by Alex Woody. Alex is the Senior Director of CedarCreek Students. His family attends the West Toledo Campus where his two daughters and son can be found filling the lobby with laughter and smiles.


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Out of the Shadows

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 10

Today, while putting my baby to sleep, I heard a scratching noise outside on our skylight. It was getting on toward sunset, and I instinctively looked up to see what made the sound. I didn’t expect to see anything, but to my surprise, I saw the shadow of the culprit. It could have been a chipmunk, squirrel, bird, or maybe a mouse. Obviously, the shadow of my visitor left much to be desired. When you rely on shadows for the identity of an object, be it human or animal, the image is vague and difficult to identify accurately.

The author of Hebrews begins chapter 10 talking about shadows.

Hebrews 10:1
The old system under the law of Moses was only a shadow, a dim preview of the good things to come, not the good things themselves. The sacrifices under that system were repeated again and again, year after year, but they were never able to provide perfect cleansing for those who came to worship.

The Jewish readers of this book were accustomed to the requirements of the law of Moses. The law required repeated sacrifices. In fact, the annual sacrifices reminded the people of their sins and inadequacies before a holy God (vs 3-4). We read yesterday, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” These sacrifices were pointing toward Jesus, who would become our perfect sacrifice. In other words, the animal sacrifices were but a shadow of Jesus’ sacrifice. Furthermore, his sacrifice for our sins was not temporary, but permanent, allowing those who trust in him to be completely forgiven, perfected, and covered by his blood.

Hebrews 10:14
For by that one offering He forever made perfect those who are being made holy.

Often, we as Christians feel like we need to do something to earn Christ’s favor. We perform rituals such as attending church, tithing, volunteering, or other “good deeds.” Yet, we are still living in the shadow—that is, we are trusting in the temporary feelings we get when we do something that we think makes us right before God. We feel the guilt of our sins and wrongfully believe that it is by our effort that we can cleanse ourselves. It is only under the blood of Jesus that we are brought into the light, out from the shadows, and can finally see that the work has already been done by Jesus at Calvary. We finally see the good things God has prepared for us.

Hebrews 10:17-18
17 Then he says, “I will never again remember their sins and lawless deeds.” 18 And when sins have been forgiven, there is no need to offer any more sacrifices.

Questions:
What things do you do to try and earn God’s favor? Are you living in the shadows, believing that you can earn your own salvation? What step will you take, today, to come into the light?

Next Steps:
Read Exodus 24:1-8, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and Hebrews 10:1-18. Compare and contrast the old and new covenant.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that we do not have to live under the shadow of the old covenant. Thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be our perfect sacrifice. Shine your light in our shadowy places so that we can confess our sins and trust you to remove any dark places in our hearts. Forgive us for attempting to earn our way into your favor and making light of the sacrifice of Jesus. Help us to live our lives in such a way that your name is glorified and others are drawn to Jesus by our lives. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Once for All!

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 9

The author of Hebrews begins chapter 9 by refreshing his readers’ memories about the original setup, purpose, and symbolism of the tabernacle. It was a tent, constructed by Moses and the Hebrews after leaving Egypt. It was made according to precise instructions from God himself (Exodus 36-40). The symbolism of each item was transferred to the temple building. The author talks about the placement and purpose of the items contained in the rooms of the tabernacle and how the sacrificial system the Israelites had employed for centuries, based on strict instructions from God, was only a temporary solution to a chronic problem—sin! The offering made by the high priest would never be sufficient to cleanse us of our sin completely and forever. It had to be repeated again and again, year after year.

Hebrews 9:11-14 (ESV)
11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (emphasis added)

I love the “but”s of God in scripture! He steps in and does what only he can do. Here we see that Jesus has come as our High Priest. He was not born of Adam, meaning with a sinful nature, but as the Son of God, without sin. The “tent” of his body was perfect, so he could enter once and for all the holy places thus having access to God himself. The objects of the tabernacle were only copies, placeholders, of what was to come. Now Jesus has entered the Holy Place, the very throne room of God, to intercede for us. His righteousness becomes ours when we trust in his death for the forgiveness of our sins and in his resurrection to give us eternal life.

Hebrews 9:26b (ESV)
But as it is, he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. (emphasis added)

There’s that word again! Read that verse once more. Don’t you love it? Easter is coming! Let’s celebrate and rejoice in what God has done!

Questions:
How do you feel about the fact that Jesus sacrificed himself for you? How might you live your life in response?

Next steps:
If you have never trusted in the death and resurrection of Jesus, accepting his sacrifice for your sin, today would be a great day to do so! You can also pray this prayer:

Jesus, thank you for dying for my sin. I accept your sacrifice on my behalf, and invite you into my life to lead me as my Lord and Savior. Thank you for forgiving my sin, past, present, and future, because today I put my faith in you.

If you have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for your sin, take a moment to praise him for what he has done. Reflect on the Easter story and what it means for you personally.

Prayer:
My Jesus, my savior, there is truly none like you. I thank you for your perfect plan to rescue the people you so love, made in your image, to accomplish your purpose in this crazy world. When I see how your plan is accomplished over the centuries preceding us, I am confident that you are in control of it all! Praise you! Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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The New Covenant

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 8

As Easter rolls around, I start to consider and meditate on the sacrifice Jesus made for us on that cross. Jesus never sinned—he was completely blameless. Pilate wanted to release Jesus because he found no fault in him. He didn’t want to crucify him, and when the Jews explained that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, he feared doing so. Pilate gave Jesus several opportunities to justify his release. Yet, Jesus, knowing and understanding the horrible pain and suffering ahead of him, stood firm (John 19:7-10).

I think about the sacrifices I’ve been called to make, and how short I fall. It doesn’t matter how many “attaboys” I’ve had—that one “oops” outweighs them all. I am guilty, full of blame and shame. I have no reasonable sacrifice to offer God for the forgiveness of my sins. If not for the new covenant that God created through Jesus, as a sinner I would be doomed to be forever separated from God.

Hebrews 8:1-2
1 Here is the main point: We have a High Priest who sat down in the place of honor beside the throne of the majestic God in heaven. 2 There he ministers in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands.

Hebrews 8:10
But this is the new covenant I will make
 with the people of Israel on that day, says the Lord:
 I will put my laws in their minds,
 and I will write them on their hearts.
 I will be their God,
 and they will be my people.

Although I am still a sinner, an imperfect, unworthy human being, I worship a perfect God who took the penalty for my sin so that I could be with him in heaven and not be separated forever. I thank God for his love and forgiveness, and for the sacrifice he made for all of us, so that we can be made right with him!

Questions:
What sacrifice have you been called to make? Did you make it? If not, why not? Would you act differently next time? Has someone made a sacrifice for you?

Next Steps:
Open your mind to God’s laws and read scripture so that it is written on your heart. Read Jesus’ journey to the cross in any of the gospels. If you haven’t received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask yourself why not. Reach out to your Campus Pastor or a trusted fellow Christian with any questions or to ask them to pray with and for you.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for Jesus, our high priest. Thank you for allowing him to mediate for us. Thank you for the new covenant that allows us back into a relationship with you. Help us to live each day reminded that you are our God, and we are your people. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Jesus: Standing in the Gap

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 7

Many years ago, I went with a group of ladies to a “Women of Faith” conference. Babbie Mason performed a beautiful song: “Standing in the Gap for You.” The song is about a friend interceding for another friend. This song reminds me how Jesus stands in the gap for us. Here are some verses from the song:

I heard that you were hurting
That you were suffering pain
But I didn’t dare turn my head
And look the other way
For when your heart is aching
My heart is aching too
Let me help you bear your burden
That’s the least I can do
I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone, somewhere is
Praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Right now you may be troubled
But everything will work out fine
For the Spirit knows before you speak
What is on your heart and mind
So I’ll be interceding

In Hebrews 7, we read that the Old Testament priest stood in the gap between the Israelites and God. The Levitical priests served God and helped the people grow closer to him. The priest interceded for the people. Intercede can be defined in this context as “to pray to God for someone, petition for, or intervene on behalf of another.” The main role of the high priest was to offer sacrifices for his own personal sins and the sins of the people. The problem was that these sacrifices were only temporary. The nation of Israel would have to offer sacrifices again and again for the continued sins of all the people. The priests, being no less human, were of course also prone to the same sins such as pride, selfishness, anger, and disobedience. Because they were merely men, they eventually died, and the next priest continued the sacrifices.

Hebrews 7:24-27
24 But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. 25 Therefore he is able, once and forever to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. 26 He is the kind of high priest we need because he is holy and blameless, unstained by sin. He has been set apart from sinners and has been given the highest honor in heaven. 27 Unlike those other high priest he doesn not need to offer sacrifices every day. They did this for their own sins first and then for the sins of the people. But Jesus did this once for all when he offered himself as a sacrifice for the people’s sins.

Praise God, Jesus is the ultimate High Priest! The final High Priest! One of the things I love most about Jesus is that he really understands us and he knows what we go through in our flesh. He was God, but he came down to the world as a human being. He faced many of the same challenges we do, yet he didn’t sin. He experienced how hard life can be. He sacrificed his life for us. He understands us more than we understand ourselves. He intercedes on our behalf to God at all times! I stress again, at all times.

It doesn’t matter if I am praising him, if I am worrying, if I am obeying or disobeying him—Jesus is standing in the gap for us. As Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (NIV, emphasis mine).

Questions:
Do you believe that Jesus is standing in the gap for you? If not, why?

If you do, how does it make you feel to know Jesus is always standing in the gap for you?

Next Steps:
Listen to “Standing in the Gap” by Babbie Mason. Imagine Jesus singing or speaking this song to you. Praise Jesus for his love and faithfulness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kaOkmJmxr0

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so grateful for all you have done for me. Thank you for loving me so much and standing in the gap for me. Thank you for sacrificing yourself on my behalf, and on behalf of all of those who come to God through you, once and for all, so that we don’t have to make those sacrifices. You are so faithful. My heart is so full of love for you. Help me notice all the amazing things you do for me. Forgive me when I get off track or take my focus off of you. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Hope Springs Eternal

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6:18-19a (TLB)
18 He has given us both his promise and his oath, two things we can completely count on, for it is impossible for God to tell a lie. Now all those who flee to him to save them can take new courage when they hear such assurances from God; now they can know without doubt that he will give them the salvation he has promised them. 19 This certain hope of being saved is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls (emphasis added).

In today’s reading, God has given us both his promise and his oath for our future salvation. We find confidence in this hope for several reasons: God’s promises have never failed anyone who trusts in them, God’s purpose is unchangeable, God is incapable of lying, and God’s oath backs up his promise.

In a sermon, Pastor Rick Warren identified three kinds of hope. One is wishful hope. This kind of hope is basically wishful thinking that something you desire will come true. This hope has no real basis in reality. For example, I hope I can stay on a diet and resist all the yummy temptations. The second is expectant hope. This kind of hope has some basis but may or may not come true. For example, I hope the Cincinnati Reds will win the World Series this year. The third is certain hope. This hope is based on God’s promises in his Word, not my wishes. It is based on the truth that God cannot lie. Certain hope is strong (solid, stable), trustworthy (reliable, bet your life on), and an anchor for your soul.

I find it interesting that the author of Hebrews uses the metaphor of an anchor. Usually, an anchor is a large metal object hooked to a boat by a chain that is dropped into the water to keep the boat from drifting either when out at sea or in a safe harbor. In this instance, the anchor is not being dropped into water, but instead goes up into heaven, where Jesus has gone before us. The certain hope we have in Christ is the anchor that keeps our souls from drifting. We all need an anchor—Jesus—both during the storms of life as well as in calm times.

1 Peter 3:15-16a
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.

On March 13, 2019, the CedarCreek community lost a great humanitarian in a freak accident. He was the leader of my Group, and his life exemplified this verse. I am thankful for the difference he made in my life and the opportunity I had to witness him live out his faith by honoring God. Peter reminds us that as Christians, we are commanded to honor the Lord. This verse resonates with me, as I believe that I am obligated to model my actions, not just my words, in a way that honors Christ so unbelievers will ask why I have certain hope. I have a living hope, a hope of a glorious life to come—ask me about it!

Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What a powerful prayer Paul has written. What a great promise! The promises of God come to us today through our faith, just as they did to Abraham and many others in the Bible. The Word is filled with a multitude of events that demonstrate God’s faithfulness. When we believe God, we feel certain hope.

Questions:
What gives you the most hope? Why? Are you filled with hope because of God’s promise in Christ? If not, why? Would your family say that you abound in hope? If not, why not?

Next Steps:
Memorize some of God’s promises that will bring you hope. Then, make a point to do some mindful meditation on what you’ve memorized. Stop focusing on your problems and start focusing on God’s promises. Journal some of the promises that can bridge the gap between your hopelessness and hope.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for all your promises. Thank you for being the giver of hope. Help me to look to Christ first for hope. Give me discernment between hopelessness and hope. Thank you for sending your Son to this world. Thank you for all my blessings and my trials, which produce hope when I trust in you. In your Son’s name, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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Good Choices

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 5

Choices—we have a lot of them to make each day. Big ones, small ones, intermediate-sized ones. Some have short-term consequences, and some have long-term consequences.

Today’s reading is Hebrews 5, and in it we hear a lot about choices: to sin or not to sin, to serve God or not, to pray for others or not. The last verse then talks about those who are mature in their faith and able to distinguish between good and evil.

Hebrews 5:14 (NIV)
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

So this got me thinking: How do we distinguish good from evil? How do we make the best choice, or at least a good one?

This was a question that I faced a few weeks ago. Someone had come back into my life after a long absence. I had had previously many bad experiences with this person lying to me more than anyone else I have ever known. There were so many lies and deceptions, I had lost count. So I had decided to remove myself from that situation, as it was unhealthy for me.

Now this person came back to me, asking me for forgiveness and a second chance. They swore that they had changed for good. They told me about changes they had made in their life for the better. I felt that I had to show this person grace by forgiving them for their past behavior and giving them a second chance. So I did.

But after I chose forgiveness, I felt uneasy and unsure whether or not I had made the right choice—or even a good choice. After all, how often does a leopard change its spots? I had decided to give this person another chance with all my heart, but I also prayed a lot on this matter. I asked God to send me signs to let me know whether I had made the right choice. And as God always does, he showed up. He placed this person into three situations, within the short span of a few weeks, where this person had to make a good choice—the right choice. And all three times, they made the wrong choice. They clearly had not changed at all.

I felt very sad and heartbroken, but I also thanked God, because now I knew that I had made the wrong choice by letting this person back into my life. Do I regret giving them another chance? No. Did I remove myself again from this unhealthy situation? Yes. And I now feel absolutely at peace because I listened to God’s guidance to make the right choice in the end.

Questions:
Have you recently had to make a serious choice in your life?

Did you base your decision only on your free will, or did you pause, pray, and listen for God’s guidance? What happened?

If you did the former, would you consider listening to God’s guidance next time instead of trying to make the choice on your own?

Next Steps:
The next time you have to make a serious choice, or even a smaller one, take the time to pray on it.

Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open and listen to what God would like you to do.

Journal about your experience or discuss it with fellow Christ followers.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for giving me free will, but thank you also so much for being there to watch over me and guide me. Thank you for letting me make the good choice, the right choice, in the end. Thank you for always showing up when I need you the most. Thank you for giving me the strength and wisdom to listen to your guidance. Thank you for the plan you have for my life. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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Jesus is Our Rest

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 4

July 2, 2018 – Morning devotions: BE WITH JESUS. Rest in him, in stillness. May I quiet my heart before him.

July 2, 2018 – 8:46pm: T-boned by a Chevy Silverado @ 55mph.

At that moment, that beautiful July evening, everything I believed about Jesus intensified and became more real, because in that crisis situation and the healing days (and months) that followed, Jesus was my rest.

He IS my rest.

In the moments immediately after the accident, we couldn’t get out of the car at first and we cried out, “Jesus, help us.” In the scary ambulance ride (another story for another time), I prayed continually, “Jesus, help.” Why do you think that is who I called out to? Because Jesus is my rest.

Rest is not about what is happening around you—it is about who is in you. When life is not still, when your world spins out of control, when circumstances are anything but peaceful, Jesus can be your rest—and you can still receive grace and mercy “when we need it most” (Hebrews 4:16). Hebrews 4 is a snapshot of Jesus being our rest. Jesus is a rest that can be entered into when we believe in him: “For only we who believe can enter his rest” (vs. 3); “God’s rest is there for people to enter” (vs. 6); “There is a special rest still waiting for the people of God” (vs. 9).

However, verse 1 says, “God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it.” My heart longs that everyone reading this will know Jesus and his rest. What are some things that might keep us from experiencing this rest? Not yet having faith in or a relationship with Jesus is one (vs. 2). Another would be a situation in which we want to do things our own way and thus disobey what God has to say (vs. 6). Sometimes it is a heart, which is hard to the things of God, that keeps us from that rest (vs. 7).

Another barrier to finding rest in Jesus is not making the time to spend with him. Hebrews 4:12 reminds us of this as well, as “the word of God is alive and powerful.” We can know and rest in Jesus through his word and prayer. He is a “great High Priest” ready to be all that we need. He “understands our weaknesses” and welcomes us boldly to his throne to “receive his mercy” and find his grace “to help us when we need it most” (vs. 14-16).

He is our rest.

Questions:
Do you feel exhausted from the rat race, like rest is far from you? Do you have a relationship with Jesus? Or is it possible that your heart is hardened toward things of God? Do you need to carve out some time to be still and rest in Jesus?

Next Steps:
Make a list of four things you can do to find rest with God. Then plan to act on each of them over the next four weeks focussing on one per week. Journal your experiences as you rest with God one step at a time.

Prayer:
God, thank you for your promised rest through Jesus—both now and through eternity. Thank you for opening my eyes to the possible obstacles that could keep me from resting with you. Please give me the strength and wisdom to make changes in my life, so that I may be ready to find more readily rest in you. Amen.


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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I Hear You

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 3

Whenever it’s time for a bath, my dog, Quimby, seems to go deaf. “Quimby, it’s time for a bath.” Silence. It’s like she’s not even in the house. On the other hand, Quimby can hear me open a bag of dog treats when she’s upstairs behind a closed door under a blanket. Amazing, right?

When I confront Quimby with her stubbornness, she’s not even sorry. I can shake my finger or use my best Disappointed Mom Voice, and still she pretends that I’m not talking. Instead, she lowers her head, drops her ears, and sinks her nose down into the rug.

Turns out, I can behave a lot like my dog. There are times when I sensed God’s whisper or read something in my Bible, yet pretended that I didn’t hear it or see it. But why? Sometimes, I ignored God out of fear, pride, pain, or just plain old stubbornness.

In Hebrews 3, the writer compares Moses and Jesus. He notes that while Moses was a man of great faith, Jesus came to show us what perfect faith looked like. Then the writer references an unfortunate event when Moses lacked faith to trust God and acted in rebellion as a result. Sadly, this event is what kept Moses from entering the promised land. His disobedience reflected an attitude so rebellious that the writer uses Moses to warn us by quoting the same verse twice in Hebrews 3:7-8 and 15 where he writes, “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”

What are some signs that our heart may be hardened against God?

  • When we refuse to believe God’s Word and his promises.
  • When we are critical of God, even after he shows us his faithfulness.
  • When we are careless about honoring God’s holiness and righteousness.

What is the cost of a hard heart? We miss out on God’s best for us, which is a life-giving connection to him. God’s best for us includes a daily infusion of his presence, his peace, and his power to live in a world that often tries to break our hearts.

Questions:
When do you struggle to believe that God wants what is best for your life?

Is there something you’ve sensed that God has wanted you to do, but you haven’t stepped up in obedience yet?

Next Steps:
Identify any place where your heart might be hardened against God and ask God for forgiveness. If you need words, you can use the prayer below.

Prayer:
God, I know that you want what’s best for my life. I’m sorry for ignoring you and doing things my own way. Even though I don’t always understand why certain things happen, I choose to trust you. God, I want your life-giving presence, power, and peace in my life. Amen.


This post was written by Barb Roose. Barb’s main passion in life is to be a shining light for Jesus! She worked on staff at CedarCreek Church for 14 years. Since 2016, Barb travels as a full-time speaker and author, but she’s at the Creek every weekend with her family and periodically serves as a Growth Track host. She loves traveling, reading and all things chocolate peanut-butter.


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Being Anchored

Today’s Bible Reading: Hebrews 2

April Fool’s Day was one week ago today. My thoughts quickly return to April 1st and the foolishness associated with it as I read and studied Hebrews 2.

Hebrews 2:1-3
1 So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. 2 For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. 3 So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?

In summary, we are fools if we do not “listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it”! Drifting is a natural phenomenon when no anchor is in place—water vessels and snow are examples. Hebrews 2 clearly identifies drifting as related to people and their faith. The reality for me is that unless I intentionally anchor the truth of the supremacy of Jesus in my belief system, I unwittingly will drift with other currents—the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Drifting often is slow and goes unnoticed until there is a great divide between where I intended to be and where I am. Having a spiritual anchor battles against spiritual drifting. The one, true anchor is God.

While I have been S-L-O-W in embracing this fact, God always has been one prayer away. He has never released me into situations where he was not with me. He has always been right beside me, even through life’s unplanned/unwanted challenges. In my state of periodic spiritual numbness, he has understood me completely and has patiently waited for me to call upon him for the rescue from myself that I so desperately needed! Hebrews 2 reminded me again of these truths.

Questions:
What habits do you engage in to keep from spiritually drifting? What habits chould you add to your daily life to minimize spiritual drifting?

Next Steps:
Participate in GrowthTrack. Join a Group. Make it a priority to be “anchored” in a deep personal relationship with Christ—read his Word, talk with him, listen to him, worship him, etc.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for being my anchor—especially when the storms of life hit me. Thank you for gently calling me back to you daily in an effort to keep me from drifting spiritually. Please surround me with people best equipped to guide and assist me in my spiritual growth. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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