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Bible Study

LIO 8/27 – Love Must be Expressed and Received with a Clear Conscience

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

WEDNESDAY – Love Must be Expressed and Received with a Clear Conscience
Big Point: Forgiveness and reconciliation are the keys to love.

Conscience is the voice of God in the soul.

-James H. Aughey

One of the hardest things to do is to love someone fully when your mind and heart are clouded with guilt. Why does this happen? What are the barriers? How do you dissipate the cloud of guilt and begin to restore the relationship?

A guilty conscience comes from unresolved issues or unfinished business that’s been pushed off. We tell ourselves that we will call, text or email them tomorrow. The tomorrow turns into a week, and a week turns into months or even years. We also hold onto guilt by justifying our own actions, perhaps blaming the other person, or even God, instead of taking responsibility for ourselves.

Unaddressed sin also robs us from loving and being able to receive love. This happens on both sides of the coin: it is either something you have done or something the other person has done. Either way, if these things are not worked out, it completely crushes any intimacy between the two of you. When we choose to hold onto bitterness and anger, living in the past instead of the present, we crush our own pathways to love. Though some hurt may take longer to heal, a lack of forgiveness demonstrates a lack of love and an unwillingness to move forward in love.

Relationships are very important to God. Jesus honed in on this when he said that if we know that someone has something against us, we should leave our gift at the altar and go make it right with them, and then come back to worship God.

What about your relationships? Take a moment to reflect on the people in your life. Is there anyone that you have hurt? Are you holding anything against someone who has hurt you? How is this hindering love in your life?

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Jesus is speaking to the crowd and giving his “Sermon on the Mount”. In the following passage, Jesus is driving home the importance of our relationships.

Question: When evaluating our relationships, what must we do in order to fully engage in worship to God?

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

Answer:

 

 

2. This passage has an Old Testament reference in Isaiah 52:15 where it was said that the Messiah would sprinkle the nations to purify them. As Christians, we believe that this was about Jesus’ blood, which purifies us.

Question: Why should we be able to go to God with sincerity? What enables this type of “boldness” and how are we able to fully trust God when we go to Him?

Hebrews 10:22 (New Living Translation)
Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.

Answer:

 

 

3. Paul is speaking to the church in Ephesus, encouraging them to be Children of Light, and in doing so, he shares with them how to love each other.

Question: How should we treat one another? Why is forgiving each other so important?

Ephesians 4:32 (English Standard Version)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE…What will you do now?

When you think about the relationships of which you have taken an inventory, are there people in your life with whom you need to “make it right”? Are there any grudges that you are holding onto which are hindering your capacity to fully love and be loved?

 

 

 

What small steps do you think you can take toward reconciliation? In what ways do you think that this will help you in your worship to God?

 

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Take some time to pray today, asking God to help you to make the small steps toward a clear conscience by making amends with the people in your life. Thank Him for the grace that is given to us through His son, Jesus, so that you are able to worship Him without guilt or shame and are able to give and receive love freely not only from others, but from God Himself!

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

LIO 8/26 – Unrealistic Expectations Choke Our Capacity to Give and Receive Love

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

TUESDAY – Have Unfailing Love for the Church
Big Point: Love without reservation, hesitation or qualification.

Humility is not a character trait that we develop. It is the byproduct of hanging out with Jesus.

–Louie Giglio

Why do we enter into relationships? Most of us want someone in our lives who will care for us, listen and be there when times are rough. We tend to look at what we will gain out of a relationship. It’s not often someone says, “I want to find a friend I can care for, listen to and help out.” Even if this is what we want, our first instinct is to ask ourselves, “What will I get out of this?”

Every relationship comes with expectations. If two friends go out for lunch and one offers to buy, usually the expectation is for the favor to be returned next time. But many times, we have unrealistic expectations. We may set these expectations without telling the person, or the expectations may just be impossible for them to meet.

No matter how high or low we set our expectations, there will come a time in every relationship when someone doesn’t do what we expect of him or her. Jesus Christ was the only perfect human. Why should we hold others to this impossible standard? We know there is no way we can be perfect like Jesus, so why do we expect others never to falter? If we find ourselves being let down by people due to unrealistic expectations, it’s time to reflect. Having unrealistic expectations is evidence that our hearts are not pure. Pure hearts are freed up from selfish motives. Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

If our expectations are not being met, we tend to focus on what that person doesn’t do for us instead of being grateful for the things they do and who they are. Both people will eventually be hurt. All the while, our hearts are more focused on our own wants than they are on God’s.
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READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Jesus said that the most important commandment was to love God with all of your heart. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. John explains that Jesus lived the truth of this commandment.

Question: Explain how keeping realistic expectations helps increase our ability to love one another.

1 John 2:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment for you; rather it is an old one you have had from the very beginning. This old commandment – to love one another – is the same message you heard before. 8 Yet it is also new. Jesus lived the truth of this commandment, and you are also living it. For the darkness is disappearing, and the true light is already shining.

Answer:

 

 

2. The following verse describes what it looks like to love each other how God commands.

Question: When Paul said to think of others as better than you, he didn’t mean to have low self-esteem. He means love them so much that your own desires are not as important. Why is this so difficult for us, especially in light of our American culture? What are some ways to overcome these difficulties?

Philippians 2:2-4 (New Living Translation)
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

Think of someone who you normally think you are “better than”. What can you do to be more humble and put that person higher than yourself? What can you do to show this person more interest and love?

 

 

 

Imagine someone in your life who you look up to and/or admire. How would you feel if this person treated you as though they thought more highly of you than themselves?

 

 

 

Think back to an argument you have had in the past. If you insert humility and take away selfishness and unrealistic expectations, how would that conversation have changed?

 

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Ask God for humility and selflessness. Ask Him to forgive times that you have not shown love toward others. Ask Him for help and clarity in setting realistic expectations in your relationships. Thank Him for Jesus and for His great example of how we are to show love.

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

LIO 8/25 – Series: Live.Laugh.Love.Learn. LOVE

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

Listen to their souls, men. “I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family.” You listen. You take a lesson from the dead.

–Coach Boone,
Remember The Titans

“In more than twenty years of ministry, I can’t think of a more tragic event that would justify a bitter spirit,” says Pastor and Author Craig Groeschel in his book, Soul Detox. He goes on to explain that two young wives, whom he calls Jeanette and Suzy, were inseparable. They enjoyed studying the Bible together, took family outings together and raised their kids together. When Jeanette decided to take a part-time job for some extra money, Suzy offered to watch her newborn daughter.

They all felt blessed by a win-win situation until, one day, Jeanette’s eighteen-month-old daughter stopped breathing in bed. Panicking as any mom would, Jeanette dialed 911, praying while trying to breathe herself. Thankfully, the medical professionals revived the toddler and rushed her to the hospital where the doctor explained that an X-ray revealed trauma to the toddler’s head. The injuries were most likely permanent—and intentional abuse. Accusations started to fly. Various people got involved, praying and asking questions. No one thought that Jeanette would hurt her own child, and Suzy, her close friend, couldn’t be a suspect, could she? When the doctors acknowledged that there would be lasting damage, reality set in. Someone abused a child—the damage was real and lasting.

Jeanette became convinced that her friend Suzy had hurt her daughter. Suzy stood her ground. With a line in the sand, even neutral friends starting picking sides. Hurt turned to bitterness and the root started to grow—deeper than you can imagine. That’s when Suzy shocked everyone. Against her lawyer’s advice, she confessed to injuring Jeanette’s daughter. She didn’t mean to do it, but she did. Though she could have kept the incident a secret and no one would have ever known, after her confession, a judge sentenced her to jail for 712 days—one day for every day that she didn’t confess her crime.

After Suzy served her jail time, she and her husband visited Jeanette and her husband in their home. In tears, Suzy fell on her knees and asked for forgiveness. Jeanette and her husband freely forgave Suzy for injuring their daughter, who was now four years old. Although this little girl is as cute as a kid can be, she’ll always walk with a limp and battle a speech impediment resulting from the injury. After the apology, Jeanette and her husband asked Suzy if she wanted to hold their daughter. As you can imagine, no one had a dry eye at that meeting. Bitterness left. Healing came. And no one who knows their story can stay the same.

This week we will focus on the barriers that hinder us from experiencing relationships as God intended. We will break down 1 Timothy 1:5 which says, “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” There must be a better way than hatred, bitterness, paranoia, distrust and sin. You must learn to love others as God first loved you. Love is defined by God and perfected by Him, too!

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT LOVING OTHERS WITH THE LOVE FIRST SHOWN TO YOU BY GOD HIMSELF.

MONDAY – God Himself is the Source of Love
Big Point: The nature of the King is Love, a crazy love for you!

When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now.

    -C.S. Lewis

How would you finish this sentence: “Jesus is ______.”? How you complete that simple, three-word sentence could say a lot about you. It could show if you are on the path to salvation or on the path to destruction. Jesus is God’s son. Jesus is truth. Jesus is alive today, sitting at God’s right hand. Perhaps most importantly, Jesus is love. Jesus came as evidence of God’s love.

The world has tried to define love in many different ways. It has a lot to say about “romantic love”, “true love” and even “selfless love”. But we best know what love is because of the person of Jesus Christ! He encapsulated love, both for us and for God the Father.

God is love. It is who He is, not what He does. God cannot help Himself, cannot stop Himself from loving you because love is WHO He is and it pours from Him onto us. He isn’t just interested in you, He’s obsessed with you! God’s love is a crazy love. He pursues you relentlessly, arms wide open, calling you back into His grace and mercy. The God of the universe—the Creator of oxygen, stars and chocolate—loves us with unconditional, self-sacrificing love.

In his book, Crazy Love, Francis Chan says, “We don’t get to decide who God is.” He isn’t based on our circumstances or feelings. He is love. Understanding His love is the foundation of understanding how He intended human love to work and operate. The truest definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7—“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”—and it applies to all love, including familial, friendship and romantic.

These verses show us God’s character, His nature of love. He proved it by sending His one and only son to die on the cross for you! God’s love goes beyond mere words, His actions demonstrate its immensity.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1.  Romans 5:8-11 highlights the special purpose and effectiveness that Paul regularly ascribes to Christ’s death. That is, Christ died specifically “for us” who now believe and are justified through our faith, and His death actually achieved for us the “reconciliation” that “we have now received”.

Question: What is the importance of the phrase “while we were still sinners”?

Romans 5:8 (New Living Translation)
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

Answer:

 

 

2. God’s love is shown in His covenant faithfulness and in His relentless pursuit of sinners in spite of their rebellion or indifference.

Question: The words “live” and “love” are intricately connected in this verse. What does the verse tell us about how God measures our trust and faithfulness?

1 John 4:16 (New Living Translation)
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

Answer:

 

 

 

3. Christ accepted the painful death of the cross so that we might be saved from eternal punishment. Our love for one another may not require such a costly decision as this, but there must be some decision and action.

Question: How does sacrificial love fulfill our calling to become more like Jesus through the transforming of our hearts?

1 John 3:16 (New Living Translation)
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Answer:

 

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

How do you know that God loves you? In what ways has He shown you His deep, crazy love?

 

 

 

Love is sacrificial. Has anyone ever sacrificed greatly for you? How so? In what way did this demonstrate the depth of their love?

 

 

 

How are you living in love today? In what ways are you actively loving and sharing the incredible gift of God’s love?

 

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Praise God for the gift of His son, Jesus, and his sacrifice on the cross, so that you would be reconciled to the source of all love. Ask God to help you embrace His love and teach you how to share that love with your brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those in the world. Delight in the love of God.

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

LIO for the Week of 8/25 – Series: Live.Laugh.Love.Learn. LOVE

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

LIO Weekend of 8/23 Family Activity: Cedarville Recap

Cedarville Image 21414

Click here to download a printable version of the Family Activity for this weekend.

Luke 10:36-37
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

Weekend Recap:
God wants us to serve others, even when we go out of our way or it’s not easy.

Scripture:
The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Read the story together as a family.

Questions:
Who helped the man along the road? Was it easy for him to help the injured man? Have you ever helped someone that wasn’t your friend? How did you help them?

Family Activity:
The Samaritan man used olive oil to help the injured man. Parents: rub olive or vegetable oil on your child’s hands as a display for what the Samaritan man did to help. Talk about ways that you can go out of your way to help someone this week in a new way.

Memory Verse:
As a family, memorize this month’s Memory Verse (the motions used in CedarVille are printed in the parentheses):

(sign “Jesus” – poke the middle of one hand, then poke the middle of the other hand) Jesus did many other things as well. (pretend to write on a flat hand) If every one of them were written down, (sign “world” – make a “W” with each hand and circle them around each other) I suppose that even the whole world (close flat hands together and open them like a book) would not have room for the books that would be written.
-John 21:25

*Have your child memorize this verse and recite it to the room teacher for a prize.

 

LIO 8/22 – Live to Give God the Glory

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

FRIDAY— Live to Give God the Glory
Big Point: It’s all about God, NOT about us!

This week’s focus is NOT a “to-do” list, but a litmus test. Remember science class in school and learning to use litmus paper? If not, litmus paper is a scientific tool used to determine the chemical composition of a liquid. It indicates what exists in the sample, much like our attitude and activities indicate what’s important in our lives. Rewind to the conversation you had after leaving CedarCreek the last time you attended: Did it include any reference to what “I got” out of the service or to the music or the hospitality?

Take a quick look at today’s theme to discover the Christ-follower’s intended purpose: We live to give God the glory. Worrying about what “I get” is a distraction from God’s best; thinking about Jesus and how he lived will focus us on God’s perspective—others. Serving others by praying for them, loving them, showing hospitality, helping without complaint and using spiritual gifts within the church ready us for Jesus’ return. Once again, this is not a “to-do” list, it’s what happens in life when you surrender to God and He uses you for His purpose in His time with His strength—now THAT’S living!

READ, THINK and LIVE… Read and apply the Bible.

1. The author of Hebrews is calling the letter’s recipients to spiritual growth, especially within the church.

Question: What does the writer indicate is the evidence of a Christ-follower’s love for God, as stated in Hebrews?

Hebrews 6:10 (New Living Translation)
For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.

Answer:

 

 

2. In 1 Corinthians, Paul is discussing how the law gives sin it’s power, but God gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus! What an amazing gift!!!

Question: How are we to work for the Lord? Why?

1 Corinthians 15:58 (New Living Translation)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.

Answer:

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Thank God for His power over sin and death and the chance to serve others in His strength. Ask Him to direct you as to where to serve. Worship and praise Him for His almighty power and goodness!

Questions for Discussion Try these in a group, with friends or at the dinner table.

1. In your opinion, what does it mean to live as someone ready for Jesus’ return? If Jesus were to return right now, what would you be most excited about?

2. Read 1 John 2:28. What advice does John give to Christ-followers as they await Christ’s return? How can this be accomplished?

3. Good times and nice things have a tendency to pull our thoughts away from heaven. How has God used suffering and trials to bring you closer to Him?

4. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. What does it mean to have an eternal perspective and how can an eternal perspective change your everyday life?

August 2014 Memory Verse:

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

John 21:25 (New International Version)

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.
Weekend Updates!

Saturday’s Daily Bible Reading Plan: August 23rd, Ephesians 1:1-23

Next Weekend: Next week we will continue with the series, “Live. Love. Laugh. Learn.” Ben Snyder will be speaking about “Love”. Service times are Saturday, August 23rd—5:15 pm, 7:00 pm and Sunday, August 24th—9:00 am, 10:45 am, 12:30 pm. We hope that you can join us at any of our four locations or on the iCampus at CedarCreek.tv

Celebrate Recovery: Find freedom from your hurts, habits and hang ups. Celebrate Recovery happens on Friday evenings at all campuses. For more information, set your web browser to: CedarCreek.tv/celebraterecovery

RESOURCES:

Biblegateway.com

Life Application Study Bible

SermonCentral.com

This week’s Living It Out was written by:

Stephanie Coil
Becky Miller
Barb Roose
Luke Shortridge
Penny Taylor

LIO 8/21 – Use Your Spiritual Gifts to Serve Others

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

THURSDAY—Use Your Spiritual Gifts  to Serve Others
Big Point: God has entrusted you with supernatural abilities to serve the church.

A spiritual gift is a supernaturally designed ability granted to every believer by which the Holy Spirit ministers to the body of Christ. A spiritual gift cannot be earned, pursued or worked up. It is merely “received” through the grace of God.

-John MacArthur

God has given every believer a ministry. Maybe you have never considered going into full time ministry as a vocation, but you are called to minister! Once you accept Jesus Christ into your life, scripture says that the Holy Spirit comes to reside within you. That same spirit gives every believer a supernatural “spiritual gift” so that they can help build up the Kingdom of God.

Did you catch that? God custom-designed you for a purpose, an assignment that only you can do. If you are going to live as someone prepared for Jesus’ return, you need to understand your gifts and actively use them! After all, what good is a gift that doesn’t get used?

Not only are there up-front gifts, there are also behind-the-scene gifts. If you are called to serve or help people, do so in the strength God supplies and not in your own strength. If you serve in God’s strength, you can serve continuously, day in and day out, instead of sporadically. How do you know in whose strength you’re serving? Figure out who is getting the glory for your service, you or God.

You may ask, “How can I discover my purpose, my design?” When God gives you an assignment, He also gives you the skillset. To discover your assignment, study your skillset! Your ease with numbers. Your love of computers. Your gift for interior design. Others stare at blueprints and yawn; you read them and say, “I was made for this.” Heed the music within, then dance to it! No one else hears it the way you do. Look back and ask yourself, “What have I consistently done well? What do I really love to do?” Stand at the intersection of your desires and your successes and you’ll find your uniqueness.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. The New Testament speaks of spiritual gifts in several different places. Each time, the Biblical authors emphasize that God has specifically gifted each one of His people and that all of the diverse gifts are given for the maturity of the community of faith. To this, Peter adds the call to serve others responsibly as stewards of God.

Question: According to 1 Peter 4:10, what is the purpose of spiritual gifts and who should benefit from them?

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.

Answer:

 

 

2. A spiritual gift will often make use of someone’s natural talents, though it need not do so. The Corinthians overemphasized the value of the gift of speaking in tongues, so Paul reminded them that it was the same Holy Spirit that gave all the gifts and that it was the Holy Spirit that decided which gift people received.

Question: What are some examples of the different kinds of service described here?

1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (New Living Translation)
4 There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5 There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6 God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

7 A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.

Answer:

 

 

3. Paul uses the analogy of a body with many parts, operating in unison, to show that the church is one collective organization with many parts. No one within the church is more important than anyone else, even though their gift set may look very different. All gifts are vitally important to the Kingdom of God.

Question: Why is no spiritual gift more important than any other particular gift?

Romans 12:4-6a (New Living Translation)
4 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. 6 In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. 

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

When was the last time you took a spiritual gifts test? How does it make you feel to know that God has a special job which He designed just for you?

 

 

What are your top spiritual gifts and how are you currently putting them to use?

 

 

If you would like to take a spiritual gifts test, you can find one here:
http://tinyurl.com/keuq4lh

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Thank God for providing you with spiritual gifts and giving you the opportunity to serve the body of Christ. Ask God to build up CedarCreek by revealing His purpose to those that attend the church. Pray that they embrace their gifts.

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

LIO 8/20 – Be Hospitable and Help Others Without Complaining

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

WEDNESDAY – Be Hospitable and Help Others Without Complaining
Big Point: It’s about positive community fellowship!

The gift of hospitality comes when we find in the welcoming face of hospitality the welcoming face of God.

-Cornelius Plantinga

1 Peter 4:9 says, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” The primary reason for hospitality is not to entertain the guests, but to meet their needs. So, the words in the verse above require us to go beyond being nice and accommodating to others. Hospitality is providing the guest a place to stay, food to eat, a listening ear for conversation and a heart to express love and acceptance. Notice that hospitality is to be extended without grumbling. “Complaint” means grumbling or murmuring. It refers to repeated words of complaint, indicating a person who gripes and complains incessantly with the sole purpose of stirring up trouble against someone else.
In ancient times, early Christians (like the apostles) traveled to cities from far away. Back then, finding lodging was a difficult and dicey process. Therefore, believers would often stay in the homes of other believers. The demands of hospitality in the early Christian church were probably frequent and heavy, possibly causing some hard feelings. Showing hospitality often required a level of sacrifice to provide for the needs of others and so, many people were unwilling to do it. Because of this hesitancy, there was some grumbling amongst those who felt as if they were the only ones sacrificing to provide for the needs of others. Christians should see opportunities to show hospitality as a privilege since it is a command from God and a form of service to Christ.

What does hospitality look like today? We have hotels and restaurants readily available, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need to be hospitable! There’s something about meeting the needs of others that attracts people to Christ. We don’t want people to turn away from the gospel because of the way Christians have grumbled and complained about each other and about having to help others!

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. The Apostle Peter wrote to the early believers in a chapter outlining some specific attitudes that the believers should have in order to reach people for Christ. Peter wanted believers to realize that they are owners of nothing and stewards of everything.

Question: Why was it so important for early believers to treat each other well? Who did this open door policy of hospitality pertain to in the early church?

1 Peter 4:9 (New International Version)
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Answer:

 

 

2. One of the themes of Hebrews is that our Christian journey is not an easy one. By depending on Jesus for help, however, we can grow stronger and bring glory to God with our lives. This verse has been long debated as to its exact meaning but clearly, when it comes to hospitality, there is more to it than meets the eye!

Question: According to this verse, what should your attitude be toward strangers?

Hebrews 13:2 (New Living Translation)
Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!

Answer:

 

 

3. Paul wrote to the Philippians to express his appreciation and affection for the believers in Philippi. The letter was also written to encourage them to live out their faith in joy and unity.

Question: These verses give a lot of examples of how to live out faith in joy and unity. What are the most important ways?

Philippians 2:14-15 (New Living Translation)
14 Do everything without complaining and arguing, 15 so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

Back in ancient times, Christians were constantly under the threat of persecution and unable to find lodging. Hospitality was vitally important and helping other Christians find a place to stay could have meant an additional threat of violence. In light of this, how was hospitality then different than it is today?
Do you struggle with sacrificially meeting the needs of others? How have you neglected hospitality in your life? What part of hospitality do you complain about the most?
In what areas of your life can you immediately begin showing a greater degree of God-honoring hospitality?
PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Praise God for His generosity, love and provision. Thank Him for those people in your life who have shown you hospitality and sacrificial provision. Ask God to help you do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Also, ask for His help as you strive to live a clean, innocent life as a child of God.

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

 

 

LIO 8/19 – Have Unfailing Love for the Church

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

Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

–Martin Luther King Jr.

TUESDAY – Have Unfailing Love for the Church
Big Point: Love without reservation, hesitation or qualification.

Living as ones prepared for the end times means living in love. We are called to have a deep love for the church because the church is the body of Christ. An unfailing love for the church does not mean a love for the building, but a love for fellow believers, the family of God.

Above all, we must show a deep and fervent love for one another. SermonCentral.com explains: “A Christian’s unselfish love and concern for others should be exercised to the point of sacrificially living for the welfare of others. Loving deeply is to love at full strength, with maximum effort, holding nothing back. Webster’s New World Dictionary describes fervent as showing great warmth of feeling or devotion. When joined together with love, the two words, deep and fervent, make the statement above all, hold unfailing your love for one another.”

Let your love be without reservation. Let your love be without hesitation. Let your love be without qualification. Such love is the most needed quality in a church. Where God’s love permeates the lives of His people, genuine forgiveness becomes a reality. Past hurts and harmful actions are forgotten. Folks in the flock stop keeping count of others’ sins and remove the scoreboard.

We all have faults. And while someone’s fault may strike a sour note in us, be assured that one of our faults may strike a sour note in others. Jesus did not tell us to judge one another but to love one another. How much stronger the body of Christ would be if we used our strengths to complement others and our voices to build them up!

We need to build up one another. For as God’s people, He holds us responsible for sharing His love with the lost world; it is called the Great Commission. To be effective, however, we will need to fulfill the Great Commandments to love God and others. This love has to begin at home and at church, with you and me.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In the following verse, Peter explains that love keeps no record of wrongs but forgives in response to God’s forgiveness.

Question: How does the following verse emphasize and reinforce the Great Commission, to love God and others?

1 Peter 4:8 (New Living Translation)
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Answer:

 

 

2. The Church has a responsibility to help relieve the suffering of those outside its fellowship, but it has a special responsibility to help brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need.

Question: Why shouldn’t we ever give up on doing good, especially to those in the family of faith?

Galatians 6:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.

Answer:

 

 

3. In chapters 13-17 of the book of John, John recounts the ministry of Jesus to the disciples, a ministry accompanied by a meal. Jesus’ public ministry was coming to an end and he further prepared his disciples, instructing them in how to live.

Question: List some things that identify people as Christians (perhaps from an unbeliever’s point of view). What should be on that list that often isn’t?

John 13:35 (New Living Translation)
Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

Has someone ever loved you sacrificially? How so? In what ways do you love deeply and fervently, especially within the family of God?

 

 

Why do you think love is so closely associated with forgiveness? How does love help cover a multitude of sins? Do you find it easier to forgive someone you love unreservedly?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

Praise God for His unfailing love and unwavering grace. Thank Him for forgiving you for your sins and ask Him to help you forgive others as you have been forgiven. Ask God to pierce your heart with a deep love for others so that you may share His love with them. Ask Him to give you an especially fervent love for your brothers and sisters in Christ. Praise God with love and rejoicing!

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

LIO 8/18 – Series: Live.Laugh.Love.Learn. LIVE

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

Why should I ever resist any delay or disappointment, any affliction or oppression or humiliation – when I know God will use it in my life to make me like Jesus and to prepare me for heaven?

    -Kay Arthur

What do you do when life doesn’t turn out exactly as you planned? We hate lemons and no one wants to the take time to make lemonade, so how about re-thinking our approach to dealing with disappointment? For instance, 23-year Aaron Rush came up with an uber-creative strategy for addressing the person who stole his bike. Rush, a recent graduate from London, decided to post a note addressed to the bike thief: Dear Bike Thief, Fantastic! I’ve grabbed your attention. Hi there! You stole my bike last night. Admittedly, I was kind of ticked off about this, but less so when I realized that you left your face on camera at the station. And also, you may not have realized this, but this is not the first bike I’ve had stolen, so I put a tracer inside of the bike frame. So, unfortunately for you, I know where you live. Please dear bike thief, don’t take this as a threat. I’m sure you had your reasons, I just want my bike back…In case you’ve taken more than one bike, mine was the grey Giant. Have a good day!

Imagine being able to confront such an annoying, disappointing event with that kind of attitude. Sure, we deal with many serious, devastating events in life, but most of our daily drama escalates, not because of the seriousness of the situation, but because of our self-centered internal mindset and attitude.

What if it were possible to be at peace and content no matter what? What if you were confronted with difficulty and you felt the need to utter the words: “I think I’m going to lose my mind” or “I can’t take another thing happening today!”?

Most of the New Testament was written by the Apostle Paul. If you remember, he was the guy that hated Christians—in fact, he killed them when he had the chance—and then became a Christian after a face-to-face encounter with Christ. Paul’s mission in life became to share the Good News of Christ and plant churches. Unfortunately, trouble and tragedy followed and interrupted his plans on a regular basis. Yet, Paul writes these words: “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.” (Philippians 4:12)

These are such powerful words, displaying such wisdom about life. What’s even more remarkable is that Paul wrote those words from prison as part of a thank you letter to the church in the ancient city of Philippi. Yes, he wrote those words while sitting in prison! Think about Paul sitting on a cold, dark, cement floor with minimal food and without knowledge of what would happen to him in the future. Yet, he was content and he gave thanks. Could you display that kind of insight and attitude while under such stress and strain?

Sometimes, Life dumps a big old bowl of lemons in our laps. It happens. But, despite our circumstances, we can press on and learn how to LIVE in the knowledge that God’s got us firmly in the grip of His hands.

THIS WEEK’S STUDY WILL EXPLORE HOW WE CAN LIVE OUT GOD’S PURPOSE WITHOUT FEAR FOR THE FUTURE.

MONDAY – The End IS Coming, So Focus your Prayers!
Big Point: Focus your prayers on the hope of the world, Jesus Christ.

God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers are deathless. They outlive the lives of those who uttered them.

–E.M. Bounds

If all we had was life on earth, then would it really matter how we lived? No. If the accumulation of our life choices and consequences really had no impact beyond our last breath, then would it be enough to just “make the world a better place”? Perhaps. But, wouldn’t you want to know that your life was more than just making the world a better place?

What if the decisions that you made TODAY had an impact on someone for the next 50 years of his or her life, as well as his or her eternity? What if you shared a message of hope that caused someone to move from a place of desperation toward renewed joy? And what if that person shared his or her experience with someone else who was also changed as a result?

There are a lot of difficult things happening in our world today. We’re seeing and hearing about devastating tragedies in our city, our country and our world. Yet, today there is hope! And not only that, but the hope that we have today is the hope that carries into the future of our lives and into eternity.

Our hope is in Jesus Christ. Is your hope in Christ? Or, do you desire world peace? Maybe you wish for other things like a cure for cancer or financial security. While those are all good things to hope for, what if they don’t happen? And if they do, how long will they last? We need TRUE hope! Our hope must be in Christ!
READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. When our minds are filled with our endless obligations and desires about our lives, then, naturally, we will struggle to connect with God in prayer. However, when we are focused on God’s agenda and the “big picture” of eternity, then our focus changes as well.

Question: Read 1 Peter 4:7. What is the big picture that we need to remember about the fate of our world? How should this reality re-shape for whom and what we pray?

1 Peter 4:7 (New Living Translation)
The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.

Answer:
2. The Bible tells us that if we confess our sins to God, then He will forgive our sins. Being forgiven is awesome! But, God also knows that the impact of sin damages and destroys lives. So, James 5:16 shares a precious truth about healing from life’s problems and pains.

Question: Why is prayer such a key part of our healing from life’s painful circumstances?

James 5:16 (New Living Translation)
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

Here are a few questions about prayer for you to reflect on:

A. What do you usually pray about?
B. How easy or difficult is it for you to pray?
C. When do you struggle with prayer?

There has been a tremendous amount of news coverage about events happening in the Middle East and Asia. How have the news events of the past few weeks impacted your life?

 

 

Why do our prayers become more fervent and passionate when we’re facing tremendous stress and strain? Why do you think that we’re not as passionate when life is good?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?

If you’ve struggled with prayer, then we have a simple prayer template that you can follow to talk to God. Remember, your prayers don’t have to be fancy and you don’t need to say the same things over and over each time.

Here is a prayer acronym that Lee created and you can use this until you are more comfortable praying on your own:
Thank Him—Thank God for who He is, what He has done and for the power of His Word.
Tell Him—Tell God about your struggles, worries, fears and pain.
Ask Him—Ask God to meet your needs and to meet the needs of others.
Listen to Him—Important! Don’t run away after the “ask”. Sit quietly and listen for any “leadings” from God. Perhaps a Bible verse or name might come to you.
Kneel before Him—End your prayer acknowledging that, no matter the outcome, you trust God as the Lord of your life. “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

Did you sense any leadings from God today?

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

Click here to go deeper using the Life Group DVD by the teaching pastor or view the message, including bonus discussion questions.

 

 

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Categories

2014 Memory Verses

October, 2014
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

September, 2014
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NLT)

August, 2014
“Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
John 21:25

July, 2014
“Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
Romans 15:4

June, 2014
"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
Colossians 3:23

May, 2014
”This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
2 Corinthians 5:17

April, 2014
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

March, 2014
“ Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.’”
John 11:25

February, 2014
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment.”
1 Timothy 6:15

January, 2014
“There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
Act 4:12

Past Memory Verses

Click here to download the 2013 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2012 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2011 Memory Verses.

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