Look at the Provider, Not the Problem

The life of Joseph is a prime example of how our response to circumstances is more important than the circumstances themselves. Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, and imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Circumstances such as those could leave anyone questioning, “Why?” “Why me?”  Such an experience could paralyze us into inaction as we contemplate what might have been had things turned out differently. Such tragedies might even taint a person’s trust in God or turn that person away from him. But what did Joseph do?

Joseph stayed true to God. He did not turn from him. He did not allow incidents he had no control over to negatively affect his character. Instead, he simply continued to act with integrity. He worked hard in all situations and trusted God for the results. And what results indeed!  Everywhere Joseph went (including jail), he gained the respect of people in power—who in turn gave him more and more responsibility, until he eventually became a very powerful person himself. This Hebrew ex-convict who was sold into slavery became the ruler of the entire land of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh! It appeared at times that Joseph was climbing the ladder of success so quickly, he didn’t have time to ask, “Why me?”

But we may be asking, “Why him?” with regards to his success. The answer is in Genesis 39:2: “The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did…” The fact that God was with Joseph is mentioned several times in his story. This realization was not lost on Joseph either. He told his brothers, who sold him into slavery:

 

Genesis 45: 5, 7-8a

5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives… 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you!

 

Joseph was able to see gifts from God in his horrible circumstances because he kept his focus on God.


Questions:
What lessons does Joseph teach us regarding the handling of crises in our lives?

What are some tangible ways we could move our focus away from a problem and shift it to God instead?

Next Steps:
If you are in a valley in life and don’t see any way out, try taking your focus off the depth of the valley and turn your attention to God. Pour your heart out to him. Cry out to him in anguish, if need be, and tell him that you don’t understand why you are in the position you are in. Then, ask him to let you see the situation through his eyes. Ask him to help you see his purpose in your struggle.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Lord, we are so fallible and weak sometimes. We get distracted by everything around us and forget to look to you. Help us remain steadfast and continue to serve you with integrity, even while the walls seem to be falling in around us. Let us see your strong arms that prevent those very walls from crushing us and allow us to see how you are going to use this situation for your glory and our good. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 4
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Nation – Pray for national missions (partnering churches and church plants)


This post was written by David Vernier. David enjoys the opportunity to encourage others in their walk with Jesus as a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Raise Your Voice and Be Heard

Being thrust into a public speaking role was exactly the scenario Moses found himself in, despite having some issues with speaking publicly. He was chosen by God to step outside his comfort zone and to lead the Israelites out of their Egyptian slavery, a task that would involve talking to both the Israelites and the Egyptians, even the Pharaoh himself!

Exodus 4:10
But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

 

Imagine dozens and dozens, perhaps even hundreds and hundreds of eyes staring at you, eagerly hanging on your every word, waiting to hear words of knowledge, wisdom, and hope from your mouth. That is a pretty intimidating scenario for most people. I definitely felt this way as a graduate student when I presented, for the first time, my research findings to all the big names in my field at a conference near London. I most certainly did not feel at the time that I had lots of wisdom to share, just my graphs and data. I was clutching my notes with one hand, even though I had memorized them, as if my life depended on them, and hoping that none of my slides were out of order or upside down. (Yep, we still had projector carousels with actual slides in those days!)

Today, I enjoy public speaking, and I frequently have to speak to large groups as a scientist or university administrator. So, the story of Moses intrigued me because I initially could not understand why Moses had any issues with public speaking. Having been raised at the Egyptian royal court would have afforded him an excellent education, so being knowledgeable or knowing how to carry himself should not have been an issue. There are some theories that maybe he had a speech impediment or physical handicap, but nothing like that is mentioned in the Bible. Whatever the reason, Moses was clearly grasping for excuses to avoid what God was calling him to do.

Yet, he was in a unique position as an Israelite raised and educated in Egypt, a position that allowed him to accomplish something amazing and grand! Because he chose obedience and used what he probably felt was a limitation (not being a good public speaker), he found that with God by his side, his potential was limitless. He put God at the center and trusted him, and he was able to use his voice to free God’s people.


Questions:
What do you feel are your limitations? Have you ever felt like you had something important to say at a crucial moment, perhaps to help someone? Did you use your voice, or did you stay silent?

Next Steps:
Look for opportunities where God has placed you in a unique position to use your voice to help others. Practice using your voice in these moments while trusting that God is by your side.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving us opportunities to raise our voices and be heard in order to help others, even if at that moment we feel terrified to speak up. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 3
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our City – Toledo, Perrysburg, Whitehouse, Findlay, Oregon, and Northwest Ohio.


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 Lutheran 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 and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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From Failure to Rock

Bible scholar John MacArthur describes Jesus’ chosen apostles this way: They were a motley crew of ordinary, uneducated men, not showing any exceptional talent for speaking, leading, or teaching. Blockheads. Perhaps worst of all was Simon, the one Jesus picked to lead this merry band of misfits. Jesus gave him the name Peter, which in Greek is Petra, or Rock. But repeatedly, Peter shows us that while operating under his own will, he was anything but a rock. For example, when trying to kill one of the men who came to arrest Jesus, he missed his head and cut off his ear instead. He was a never-ending whirlwind of opinions and actions, and he typically failed when it mattered most.

At the last supper, Peter proclaimed, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you” (Matthew 26:33). But a few hours later, he denied knowing Jesus three times!

How did this failed mess of a man go on to give arguably one of the Bible’s most powerful sermons and lead thousands to Christ on Pentecost? In John 21, we read that Jesus called him out, and on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he stopped being Simon and became Peter, the Rock.

After a night of fruitless fishing, Jesus calls to them from the beach and tells them to lower their nets on the right side of the boat. They then catch so many fish that they can’t haul in the nets. Peter, realizing it’s Jesus, “threw himself into the sea” (John 21:7, ESV, italics mine) to get to Jesus. The exchange that follows changes Peter forever, changing him from failure to rock.

John 21:15-17
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. 16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said. 17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

Jesus explains to Peter that he has two jobs: follow Jesus and be a shepherd to his sheep. Previously, Peter had failed because his decisions were based on his belief in himself. He was trying to operate on his own, and that’s why he failed. What a relief that God does his best work with nothing. (Check out Genesis 1:1 for another great example of this.)

Jesus had to bring Peter face to face with the true depth of his sin and, consequently, the true depth of God’s grace and mercy before he could stop relying on himself and truly turn himself over to Jesus (John Reilly sermon, “Peter, The Disciple”). When we allow Jesus to show us the same truth, he can use us right where we live to accomplish his amazing work.

John’s recounting of Peter’s story shows us how God uses bent and broken people to do amazing things. His requirements? Have a humble and repentant heart, and a desire to love him and to love others.

2 Corinthians 4:7
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

Questions:
Have you recently examined why you follow Jesus?

Ask yourself if you truly “wait on him”, or do you do what you think is best?

Next Steps:
Find a way to take that love you profess for Christ and cast it onto others over a meal or a game of golf, or even working in the garden with a neighbor. Let go of being your own god. Commit Isaiah 55:8-9 to memory.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for revealing my true motivations to me. Help me to stop putting myself at the center of my world and replace it with your lordship and a deep desire to humble myself. Help me to love you more than myself and to serve others because of your love for us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 2
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Pastors, church staff, Group Leaders, DreamTeam members.


This post was written by Martha Preckler. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.


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What Could Be?

Leaving the house on time is never easy when you have kids. There can be many reasons for running late, but for my family the culprit most often is a misplaced pair of shoes. Sometimes, we discover that the missing shoes were taken off during the last car ride home! Other times, we find them under a bed or in the basement. Most often though, they are lost in a giant pile of shoes on the floor of the front hallway closet!

Last week, I decided that I had finally had enough! As I found myself on the floor of the closet rifling through the pile of shoes for the third time in two days, I thought to myself, this is ridiculous, and I began to imagine what could be if I had a shoe rack.

If only I had a shoe rack, then shoes could be organized, children could be ready to leave on time, and frantic searches through the closet could be a thing of the past! The more I thought about it, the more I believed that a shoe rack had the potential to change my life!

This weekend Ben Snyder asked us to answer this question: “What one thing has the potential to change your life?” Often, when we think about our lives being changed or what could be, we include an “IF” in the statement. For example, we might say something like, “Imagine what could be if I had a different  boss.” “Imagine what could be if I was more talented in a certain area.” “Imagine what could be if I had a bigger house.” Or in my case, “Imagine what could be if I had a shoe rack.”

Ben taught us this weekend that the difference between our potential and our limitations is how we leverage “IF.” Specifically, the difference between our potential and our limitations is WHO is at the CENTER OF “IF.” Putting God at the center of our if is actually the one thing that has the potential to change our lives.

When we put ourselves at the center of the “if”, it limits what could be. However, when God is at the center of the “if”, the potential to what could be is limitless. In fact, with God our limitations become our greatest potential for purpose.

 

2 Corinthians 4:7

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.

 

Today, our church begins “21 Days of Prayer,” and you are invited to be a part of it. Over the next 21 days, we are coming together to seek God first and to offer him everything that we have. As a church, we want to put God at the center of what could be! Together, we faithfully trust in his power alone to create lasting impact in our lives, our church, and our world.

Putting God at the center of our lives is where we get our potential to do great things and to make a difference for him. We do that through prayer and through trusting him with everything that we have to offer.


Questions:

How are you leveraging your “if”?

What steps can you take to make God the center of your “What if’s”?

Next Steps:
Dedicate yourself to growing in the area of prayer.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer. You can find out more at cedarcreek.tv/21days. (Download the personal prayer guide. Share a request for prayer. Download the parent resource)

Prayer:
Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” God, today I surrender myself to you. I give you my personality, my passion, my past, and my placement knowing that you can do more with them than I could ever imagine. Because of you, I have great potential. Thank you! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

21 Days of Prayer – Day 1
Today’s Prayer Focus for 21 Days of Prayer: Our Leaders – Nation, State, and City (1 Timothy 2:1-2)


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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My Today is Not My Forever

My now ex-husband made our divorce as vicious, bitter, and acrimonious as he had always promised to make it. He had threatened that if we ever divorced, I would be lucky to see my daughters every other weekend because according to him, he was the better parent and thus would be their caregiver. Oh, and he would also get the house, so I had better find a new place to live. My ex-husband was verbally and emotionally abusive to me for many years, and even when he became physically abusive in the last year of our marriage, I was still holding out hope that he would finally get the help that he needed. But there came a night when I was, for the first time, truly afraid for my life and the lives of my sleeping daughters—I had that gut instinct that things could go horribly wrong that night. I locked myself in my bedroom, called for help, and got a civil protection order the next day. I was terrified in the courtroom with the magistrate, even though it was just the two of us. I had never been in a courtroom before. I recounted through tears what had lead up to this court appearance. I felt like a failure, like I had done something wrong in our marriage. Like I had failed somehow.

I never knew what new schemes and lies my ex-husband would come up with during the divorce proceedings. My attorney said that he had never seen someone like him in his 30-year career. But, something else happened during these months—for the first time, I discovered strengths that I never knew I had, and I discovered that God had already put a group of wonderful people in my life who helped me through this incredibly tough time. (My family was also very supportive, but they all live in Germany.)

1 Peter 5:10

In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.

Just like Peter told the early Christians, God will lift you up again after your suffering. What is lost will be returned and restored to you in eternity. So do not despair! Looking back a few years later, I can see that God had a plan for me for a better life. He helped me through the divorce by putting good people at every step of the way to guide me and support me. I got the civil protection order, the magistrate (in the end) saw through my husband’s schemes and lies, I am my daughters’ legal guardian, and I got to keep the house. And after some bizarre, and in retrospect, even sometimes hilarious online dating experiences, I did finally meet a wonderful man with a good heart. What kept me going every day during those difficult times was the thought that my today was not my forever, and I feel blessed to see now what God had in store for me all along.

Questions:
When was the last time that you went through a difficult time? Are you going through a difficult time now? Are you asking God for guidance as to what you should do to navigate through this? Are there good people in your life, who love you and whom God placed there for you? Are you reminding yourself that your today is not your forever, that there will be an end to your suffering?

Next Steps:
Look at the people in your life to see whether anyone is suffering and think about how you could help them through their difficult time. If you are suffering, look for people that God has placed in your life to help you make it through. Write down things you can look forward to again once your suffering has passed.

Today, we complete 1 Peter by going through 1 Peter 5. Feel free to simply read through the chapter. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. Download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for having a plan for my life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to grow and find new strengths by helping me face difficult times and guiding me through them. Thank you so much for placing wonderful people in my life and for walking beside me at all times. 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 Lutheran 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 and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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Don’t Give Up

I am not a runner. If you are, please do not be offended. I am sure you find some joy in pounding the pavement into submission. I hate it!   That is why I had such a conflict when my son asked me to enter a 5k race on a 4th of July weekend in Houston. I agreed. For weeks, I conditioned, running and walking, getting ready for the race. Finally the day came. The race started at 7 a.m., and it was already 90 degrees. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like taking the shortcut to the finish line. But I went on and finally finished the race. Near the finish line, my son came running back to me and ran/walked alongside with me to the end. I love him, and I knew I couldn’t quit. All the conditioning and all the enduring was just a demonstration of my love for him.

As we run the race of life, there are many places where we just want to quit doing the right things. We want to stop worrying about making the right choices. We feel drained and unable to act in the way we know would please Jesus. We become so self-focused that we don’t see the next step he wants us to take. But the reality is that we show our love and devotion to Christ through enduring the trials in life that we face. Paul writes that it is Christ’s love for us that controls us, moves us, and motivates us.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

The devil wants us to be discouraged by our circumstances and just quit. Peter encourages us to stand firm against him.

1 Peter 5:9

Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

In the same way that I had to prepare for that race, we need to prepare to grow in our ability to stand firm. As we stand firm in the little trials we face, we grow in our ability to trust God in the middle of those trials. Our faith muscles get stronger, and we are able to stand in the face of more difficult circumstances. Those muscles get stronger because we are becoming more accustomed to surrendering ourselves to the Holy Spirit. We trust that He is working in our lives and preparing us for the future. The knowledge that the Holy Spirit is at work within us is encouraging. We know that he is the source of strength that helps us stand firm during the darkest storms of our lives. This is “spiritual conditioning.” And it will prepare  us for the life race we are running.

Many times we feel that if only our circumstances would change, we could do better. If only we had more money, a better boss, a different job, a better spouse, or better kids, then we could really make a difference. The truth is we make a huge impact when we endure the difficulties in life rather than escaping them. When we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and give us the strength to stand, we provide hope for those around us who see our struggle,  our response, and our glorifying of the Lord.

 

Questions:

When you face trials in your daily life, do you look for a way to escape, or do you ask God to help you endure?

 

What can you do this week to work on your “spiritual conditioning” in preparation for the difficult circumstances that you may face?

 

Next Steps:
Get involved in a group.  Through those relationships, the Holy Spirit will bring encouragement and help you focus on Jesus when difficult times come to your life. Start building those relationships now.

Be observant this week. Look for someone who is going through difficult circumstances and be the voice of encouragement for them. Help them to focus on the source of strength that will help them endure the trials that they are facing.

As we continue through 1 Peter this week, we focus today on 1 Peter 4. We encourage you to read through this chapter in your Bible. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. You can download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.

 

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for the great gift of salvation that you provided. I know that gift does not mean that all is going to be well in life. In fact, I know you tell me in your Word that I will face trials. Help me to keep my focus on you so I can develop the spiritual strength to stand firm no matter what life throws at me. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who guides and comforts me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Terry McGraner. Terry is an engineer at Dana Corporation. He facilitates GrowthTrack and leads a Group at the South Toledo campus. He is married and the father of four adult sons. He loves spending time with his family and communicating the truth of God’s Word to make an impact in the lives of others.


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Know Thy Enemy

“In the days when monsters and giants and fairy folk lived in England, a noble knight was riding across a plain. The Red Cross Knight had never yet faced a foe, and did not even know his own name or where he had been born. But now he was bound on a great adventure, sent by the Queen of the Fairies to try his young strength against a deadly enemy, a dragon grim and horrible.” So begins one of my boys’ favorite stories, “Saint George and the Dragon,” retold by Margaret Hodges. Throughout the story, George battles this evil, deadly dragon. His foe is far superior in strength, and George’s life is continually at stake. George is repeatedly knocked down and left for dead, but his strength is restored to fight another day, until he finally defeats the dragon.

In many of the fairy tales I read to my children, the enemy is very apparent. They are ugly and bold and vicious. The battles are fierce and the hero often is wounded, but in the end, our hero always wins. In our daily lives, our enemy is not always so apparent. It is often disguised as a nasty co-worker who seems to be trying to tear us down. Or, it could be a friend who broke our trust, or a toddler who refuses to use the toilet (ask me how I know).

On Monday, we discussed the idea of self-promotion and self-demotion. The examples above fall into the self-promotion category. The other person seems to be the enemy and is preventing me from getting what I want. We think we should have career advancement opportunities, we deserve to have true friends who never hurt us, our children should always do exactly what we want them to, and so on. But in each of these cases, there is an unseen enemy seeking to destroy us. We cannot change the actions of the other person, but those actions are not what will ultimately destroy us. Our responses to these people—anger, bitterness, and unforgiveness—are what will ultimately destroy us. Sometimes, the enemy comes from within. We decline an amazing job opportunity because we are afraid to fail. Or, we close the door on a budding friendship because we are afraid to get hurt. In these cases, we believe lies about ourselves, and we allow the devil to defeat us with those lies.

1 Peter 5:8
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.

As human beings, and more specifically as Christ-followers, our enemy is not another person, and it is not ourselves. It is the devil. He knows our weaknesses and will exploit them to bring about our ruin. We need to remember who our real enemy is and engage him in battle through Scripture and prayer.


Questions:
Are you more likely to view others as an enemy to be defeated, or are you defeating yourself?

What are some of the ways that the devil is attacking you through others or through yourself?

Next Steps:
As Christ followers, we have a deadly enemy in the devil. We need to take active steps to guard ourselves from his attacks. Think about your answers to the questions above. Find some passages in your Bible that you can refer to when you are feeling attacked, so you have something to fight back with.

As we continue through 1 Peter this week, we focus today on 1 Peter 3. We encourage you to read through this chapter in your Bible. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. You can download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.

Prayer:
Lord, sometimes I forget who my real enemy is. I view others as the cause of my difficulties and lash out against them, or I allow my own fears to prevent me from taking important steps. Remind me that I am not alone in this fight and that through Jesus and Scripture, I can stand up to the attacks of the devil.  Amen.


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


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Don’t Tell God You’re Just Browsing

I’ve been so blessed for the last five years to have a Bible study group that is filled with people who share their struggles, wisdom, and love. At our most recent meeting, a girl in my group mentioned that she had been struggling with anxiety and worries earlier in the day, so she filled up an imaginary bucket of her worries and handed it to God. She’d think some more, grab the bucket, and toss some more worries in. She had a rough day with worrying, but by the time we met, she had given those problems to God, and had not taken them back. This friend of mine has grown so much since I first met her, and to hear her talk in such a bold and honest way inspired me.

Giving our worries to God isn’t a new concept. It’s just that it’s one of those things that is easy to say but actually tough to accomplish. We tend to share with God our cares and worries, but for those of us who lean toward self-promotion, we tend to go right back to stewing over them or trying even harder to fix it all ourselves. All this does is say to God, “I want to complain about this to you, but I can fix this myself. I’ll just try harder. Thanks anyway.” On the other hand, those of us who lean more toward self-demotion may justify what we’re going through with, “Well, I deserve this,” or “I’m just going to put this issue on the back-burner for a bit and move on.”

What we don’t realize is that giving God our cares and concerns is a form of showing him devotion. One way to define devotion is, “loyalty and love or care for someone or something.” By giving God our cares, we are actually showing him love. We are displaying our trust in him, and we are giving him permission to come into the situation and do his will. When God tells us to cast our cares on him, he isn’t saying it like a store employee asking if you need help, when in reality they’re really hoping you’ll say no. We can typically tell when their offer to help is not sincere, so we tell them we’re just browsing, even though we know what we’re looking for and really don’t have a clue where it is. God tells us to let him help by giving him our cares—hoping that we really do! When we do this, we are loving him, trusting him, showing devotion to him, and not only giving permission, but seeking his will to be done in our lives.

1 Peter 5:7  
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.


Questions:
What cares, concerns, and worries do you need to give to God?

Are you more of a self-promoter or self-demoter when it comes to giving God your cares? Once you’ve identified this, what can you do to change this?

Next Steps:
A good way to make a new habit of giving God your cares is to keep a prayer journal. Write down the cares and concerns you’ve given to God. Make a habit of reviewing the journal, going back to previous concerns and writing down how God has worked in each situation. Seeing results on paper can help you recognize what God can do if you invite him in.

As we continue through 1 Peter this week, we focus today on 1 Peter 2. We encourage you to read through this chapter in your Bible. Or, you can listen to it through the StreetLights Bible. You can download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.

Prayer:
Dear God, help me to recognize the need to give my cares to you. I cannot fix things on my own, and I know that giving my problems to you is a way of inviting you to do your will in my life. I long to be closer to you, and I long for you to use me and shape my struggles for your glory. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a former nurse who is now embracing her role as a stay-at-home mom. She is married and has a daughter and a son. She loves writing for this team, and feels she grows a great deal through writing and listening for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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Be Humble and Kind

SPLASH!” As I came up out of the water, I looked up to the bridge, hoping the girl I was trying to impress saw me. I had completed a perfect front flip into the James River from the 50-foot-high bridge. The summer after graduating college, some friends and I went hiking and then bridge jumping. Of course, since it was a group of guys and girls, the guys immediately started to one-up each other by jumping from higher and higher heights, then attempting more advanced jumps. Since I was trying to get one of the girls to like me, I had no choice but to do the highest and most dangerous jump (not recommended!). Thankfully, I landed it safely, and the girl, Brandy, is now my wife.

When we want something, like a spouse, there is a force within us that drives us to present the best version of ourselves, to promote ourselves, to prove how much we deserve whatever it is, and to win it. When I was first trying to impress my wife, I wanted her to see how adventurous I was. I felt I had to go above and beyond to prove it. If I didn’t promote it to her, she might have missed it, then missed me, and wound up with the wrong guy. I had an obligation to win her heart because she deserved someone like me, and would have been miserable without an adventurous guy like myself.

Obviously, I’m embellishing a bit (my wife would probably say otherwise), but the lengths I went to to impress my wife are a great example of self-promotion. Self-promotion is the natural tendency within us to push our agenda of what we think we deserve. We promote ourselves by publicizing our skills and abilities, often in a forceful way.  When we feel out of place in some way, shape, or form, our first reaction is typically to promote ourselves. Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about our call as Christians to flee the desire to self-promote and instead humble ourselves before God.

In the book of 1 Peter, Peter calls followers of Jesus to choose devotion, not self-promotion.

1 Peter 5:5b-6    
5b And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.

Unfortunately, sometimes when attempting to pursue humility, some Christians swing to the other end of the spectrum of self-demotion. Self-demotion is when we forcefully reduce our involvement or lower our place of worth. Humbling ourselves under God’s mighty power is neither self-promotion nor self-demotion. “The mighty power of God” in verse 6 is an allusion to God leading his people to the promised land. It is an emphasis on God’s deliverance regardless of our circumstances. As we grow to know God in deeper ways, our devotion to him should also grow. It is our love, loyalty, and commitment to Jesus that will allow us to remain in a state of humility no matter the situation we find ourselves in.

The rest of the week, we’ll look over the four ways we can increase our devotion to Jesus and humble ourselves by surrendering our cares, staying alert, standing firm, and sharing the glory.

Questions:
What is an area you have chosen to self-promote or self-demote?

How can you deepen your knowledge of the “mighty power of God”?

Next Steps:  
Admit your need for God to work in your circumstances, whatever they are. Attend GrowthTrack, if you haven’t already.

Also, as we close out our study on 1 Peter, read through the book this week. Today, we will focus on 1 Peter 1. Feel free to simply read through the chapter. Or, you can listen to it through StreetLights Bible. Download the app or visit streetlightsbible.com.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, sometimes I self-promote and, in pride, think too highly of myself. Other times, I self-demote, and I allow lies or fear to hold me back from what you have in mind for me. Please forgive me for both and help me to humble myself under your mighty power. You are good, and I want to be right where you want me to be. 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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
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Fireproof

Faith, like gold, is precious, rare, beautiful, and valuable.  Faith, like gold, must be refined, tested, and purified. Refining gold and purifying it involves heat. When God allows “heat” in a Christian’s life, he is refining our faith and purifying our trust through the trial, loss, tragedy, or crisis. He is making it pure, rare, and more valuable. He is making it fireproof.

Having a fireproof faith can only happen through testing. How can an athlete know he has worked hard enough, trained long enough, and practiced well enough unless he is tested in competition? The Lord allows suffering to prove to us that our faith is true, it is real, and the God of creation will not fail. With each trial, true faith is becoming more precious, beautiful, and rare.

Christ followers know trials and tragedies will happen because Jesus said so. But, he said it with a promise: “‘Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world’” (John 16:33b). Therefore, I should not ask why the trial or suffering has come upon me, but what is God trying to teach me?”

1 Peter 4:19
So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you. (emphasis mine)

Again, the question to ask is not why. The question to ask is what. What does God want you to receive and learn from in your trials? It may be an invitation to trust him, to trust the God of creation, who holds the world in his hands and who knit you together in your mother’s womb. The God who spoke truth to Job in Job’s questioning of why and reminded him with whom he was speaking.

Job 38: 18-21
18 Do you realize the extent of the earth? Tell me about it if you know! 19 “Where does light come from, and where does darkness go? 20 Can you take each to its home? Do you know how to get there? 21 But of course you know all this! For you were born before it was all created, and you are so very experienced!

God’s point seems to be to remind Job that he (God) is eternal and knows what he is doing, and Job shouldn’t question why God allowed this crushing series of tragedies in Job’s life. Interestingly, it was Satan who went before the throne of God and asked to test Job (Job 1:6-12). When bad things happen in our world, most people blame God. Job’s choices were to curse God or trust God. Job did not have to trust God. He could have listened to his friends, his wife, the naysayers, but Job chose to trust God. Satan had to slink away defeated. Job had chosen to love and trust God, even as he had lost everything in this world. This book of the Bible is a beautiful witness to who God is and what our choices are when suffering comes. Job chose to trust the God whose majesty is displayed for all to see. Job allowed these trials to refine his faith. Pure faith is a beautiful, valuable gift that only God’s hand can fireproof.

Questions:
When have you felt the refiner’s fire through a trial?

What is your first response to suffering? Is it “Why, Lord?” or “What, Lord?”

Are your friends encouraging you to trust God or curse God?

Next Steps:
Think about the last time you suffered and reacted with little faith. Now, think about a time you had a trial and you responded with strong faith.

Did you ever think that Satan asked to test you, and your trust in God defeated the enemy? If you haven’t had a major trial, praise the Lord.  However, trials will come. Allow God to fireproof your faith through Bible study, prayer, sharing life in a small group, and observing God move in the lives of other Christians.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you are the lifter of my soul. You are amazing!  Everywhere I look, I see the works of your hands. Sometimes I am too busy to notice, but today I marvel at the beauty and majesty in your creation. The sun’s rays streaming down, the birds’ songs, the wind gently blowing the blades of grass. How beautiful and lovely! Thank you for creating me to witness your power and beauty in all you created. I know I can trust in you, for you made the storehouses of snow, the morning star, the moon, the expanse of sky, the orbit of the Earth. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. All glory and honor to you!  Amen.


This post was written by Julie Roehl. Julie loves God’s Word and CedarCreek and is so very grateful for the love and grace of Jesus. She enjoys grammar, traveling, and tennis. She is married to John, and they are blessed with 7 children.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media