Want to get daily readings and a Bible study sent directly to your email like others?
 

Facebook

September 2015
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
282930  

Categories

Copyright Info

Scripture text is for personal use only; copying, printing, or selling is prohibited. Click here for full copyright information.

Bible Study

LIO 7/08– Freedom in Christ

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

WEDNESDAY – Freedom in Christ
Big Point: Recognizing our need for God is what leads to true freedom.

 

One of the classic Christian paradoxes is that freedom leads to slavery and slavery leads to freedom.

John F. MacArthur Jr., Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ

 

      It’s a familiar scene in our area. Neighbors, friends and pictures posted about hours spent on the long and frustrating process of clean-up and replacement of flooded basements and ruined contents. People who felt pretty good about having two sump pumps to handle whatever nature might throw at them, but lost power so the pumps couldn’t operate. Others watched the water rise with just nowhere else for it to go.

     During a time like that, we’re aware of our desperate circumstance, but what about when it’s not literally flooding? Do we understand that, left to ourselves, our circumstances become pretty flooded, desperate really, in short order? Lee said it this way, “When I fail to begin a day with God, in His Word and in prayer, I notice. After two days, I am way off track.” He said he cannot afford to miss that connection because that time helps him to realize his need for God. The late founder of Prison Fellowship, Chuck Colsen, says it this way, “People fail to take sin seriously. If we’re really sinners, they seem to think, then all we need is a little self-improvement. But when we do take our sin seriously, when we realize we have been rescued from a hopeless condition — dead in our sins and trespasses — then we rejoice and in gratitude and join God in reclaiming the world He loves for Himself.”

      Before Christ, our sin held us in bondage, in slavery, as we were under its power. Our sin consumed us and controlled our lives, but faith in Christ sets us free from that slavery to sin. Not just for the sake of freedom, either. Throughout his teaching, the apostle Paul actually calls us back into slavery, but to Christ. So strangely enough, we are to use our freedom to become slaves again! That is a definition of freedom that we don’t understand very well. The reality is that the sort of liberty to which we are set free under Christ should never result in bad behavior. Freedom in Christ is not freedom to do whatever we want. It is freedom to do what Jesus wants — to love and serve God and one another.

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. Jeremiah was God’s spokesperson to Judah, a nation at that time that was sliding towards destruction, urging God’s people to turn from their sins and back to God. Jeremiah often begins by saying, “This is what the Lord said…” and this passage was no exception.

Question: What does Jeremiah say is the most deceitful of all things? Is he talking about the actual organ, or something more?

Jeremiah 17:9 (New Living Translation)
The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

Answer:

 

  1. Jesus is talking about the same heart condition that Jeremiah was, but details all that comes from our hearts, believer or not.

 Question: Where does Jesus say evil comes from? What does he specifically list as outcomes of our heart condition?

 Mark 7:21-22 (New Living Translation)
21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 

Answer:

 

  1. When we think of freedom, we usually think of doing whatever we want, but the apostle Paul taught about a different freedom.

Question: How does Paul say we are to use the freedom we have received from Christ?

Galatians 5:13 (New Living Translation)
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
What do you think of when something is described as being desperately wicked?

 

Do you agree with that description of your heart? Why or why not? How does your answer to this question affect your relationship with Christ?

 

Read Galatians 5:13 again. What does it look like for you to live as someone who has freedom in Christ?

 

How can you use the freedom you have in Christ to love and serve someone in your life this week? (Maybe you can help that neighbor who had a basement full of soggy belongings!)

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Pray this prayer today: Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for the freedom I have in Christ, freedom to love those You put in my life and to have a relationship with You through Christ. I thank You that I am no longer enslaved by the power of sin, but that I can now be a slave to You in love. Show me how to love and serve others today, and I will give You all the glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 7/07— Signs of Spiritual Independence

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

TUESDAY — Signs of Spiritual Independence
Big Point: Independence is good, except spiritually.

 

I’m waiting for a package (that I have to sign for) from UPS, but I also need a shower. #firstworldprobz

 

          Have you seen the hashtag #firstworldprobz? If you haven’t, this hashtag captures the frustrations and complaints commonly experienced by privileged individuals in wealthy countries, like ours. It’s often used tongue-in-cheek because most know those frustrations are truly trivial, but we want to voice them nonetheless.

This is a time of unprecedented wealth and comfort in our country. Do you feel wealthy? Probably not, but we are. Most Americans don’t feel wealthy because of comparisons to others. Yet, we can’t argue that our lives are pretty cushy.

Unfortunately, our lack of suffering and persecution has a troubling side-effect: lack of dependence on God.

Think about the times when our hearts are farthest from God—it’s not when we’re struggling. When the doctor calls with bad news, our first thoughts are to cry out to God. When there is a car accident or a job is lost, our first words are often, “Oh, God, HELP!” When our backs are against the wall, we cling to God.

Yet, when the bills are easily paid, the vacations are regularly scheduled and the bank account number keeps climbing, this is when we drift. When our hearts are happy and our tummies are full, we are content and our need for God isn’t pressing. But, our need for God still deeply exists, we’re just too comfortable to realize it. This is when we are in danger of lackluster prayer and hit or miss Bible reading, waning church attendance and decisions made without God’s input—spiritual independence.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. In the early chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses calls the Israelites to wholehearted commit to God. The Israelites know that God will lead them into a promised land filled with abundance and opportunity. Yet, God also knows that all of the waiting will have an impact on their spiritual lives.

Question: What is the warning given to the Israelites? 

Deuteronomy 8:10-11 (New Living Translation)
10 When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.11 But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations. and decrees that I am giving you today.

 Answer:

 

  1. Moses continues to talk to the Israelites about how God wants them to live in the Promised Land as they enjoy their new, fine homes and their prosperity.

Question: What does God want the people to remember about how and why they have access to such abundance?

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (New Living Translation)
17 He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ 18 Remember the LORD your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.

Answer:

 

 LIVE… What will you do now?

How comfortable are you these days? Rate yourself:

 

1                       2                      3                      4                    5

Lacking basic needs                       Doing well                           Very comfortable

 

 

How would you rate your current dependence on God?

 

1                         2                        3                     4                       5

Not really thinking about God              Regular contact              Clinging to God

 

Now, review the two places where you’ve rated yourself. Are there any correlations between your level of comfort and your level of dependence on God? (It is also possible to be at both extremes—very comfortable and clinging to God!)

 

 

Now, when are the times that you get comfortable and drift from God? What are some of the thoughts or feelings that lead to the start of the drift? If those thoughts or feelings crop up again, how will you handle them?

 

 

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

Spiritual independence is a daily battle. No matter how close you are today, it is always a threat. Here’s a prayer that you can use today to let God know that you want to push back against spiritual independence:

Dear God, I don’t want to live apart from You today. God, please invade my thoughts and attitudes. Remind me of Your words today that will lead and guide my path. Amen.

 

 

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 7/06–Series: Spiritual Independence

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

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

– President John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, January 1961

 

    Each year, one of our nation’s most celebrated holidays—and rightly so—is Independence Day on July 4th. On this day, we remember the birthday of our country and the celebration of our liberty recorded in documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and others. These documents contain some of the most potent and consequential words in American history.

     Holidays like Independence Day remind us that celebrating milestones is important. This year, we will celebrate the 239th birthday of our country. While our nation may be young when compared to other countries, we can still celebrate. Our country doesn’t have to be perfect for us to remember how we have been blessed as Americans. Our centuries of uninterrupted independence has made us the envy of many countries around the world.

Independence is a good thing. But, independence isn’t always the best thing.

     In this past weekend’s message, Lee talked about how spiritual independence is not a good thing. Spiritual independence is when we try to live for God without experiencing the power of God in our lives or when our choices, attitudes and behaviors communicate, “I really don’t need you, God. I’ll let you know when I need you.”

     Have you ever stood back and watched a two-year-old try to climb onto a kitchen countertop in search of a cookie or forbidden toy? At first, the toddler attacks the problem with enthusiasm and vigor. Maybe he’ll push a chair across the floor and climb onto the seat. Then, he’ll try to pull his little body up. But, at some point, that little one is going to get stuck. After a time period of no progress, you’ll start seeing the frustration mount on his little face and finally, you can hear his stress. It’s usually then when the child cries out, “HELP!” Unfortunately, by this point, the original problem is now compounded by whatever solution the child concocted. That’s how many of us live spiritually independent from God. We try to tackle life’s problems on our own and once we get backed into a corner, that’s when we yell, “God, I need help. NOW!”

     What would our life look like if we lived spiritually dependent on God? What if we invited God into our lives each day, choosing to access His wisdom, hope, power and understanding on a daily basis rather than just in a crisis? What would that mean? Even for those of us who consider ourselves mature followers of Christ, maintaining spiritual dependence must be a daily pursuit. Challenge yourself this week to think through the relationships, places or circumstances in your life where you are living independent of God. Then, choose to invite God into those places.

 

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT LEARNING HOW TO LIVE IN DAILY DEPENDENCE AND SURRENDER TO GOD.

 

MONDAY – Amazing Grace!

Big Point: It’s not just for the first time we believed.

 

Grace is not simply leniency when we have sinned. Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon.

– John Piper

 

    If we’re not careful, we can start to believe we’ve got this. Especially for those who consider themselves mature believers in Christ. At the beginning of our Christian life, everything is a new revelation and we’re blown away by God’s Word. But, years later, we start to develop the “been there, done that” attitude. Maybe it starts with feeling like we’ve read that Bible story before, we’ve heard that verse, oh this song and those words…again.

     The daily surrender to God’s amazing grace is what gives us true wisdom, hope, power and understanding, all of which we desperately need and are made possible because of the sacrifice of Christ.

     This past weekend we heard “Amazing Grace”, one of the most well-known, prolific songs in history. Known by believers and non-believers alike, it’s a song that reconnects us to God at every stage in our Christian journey. The lyrics of this song should be lifelong:

 

Amazing grace, How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see. ‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, And grace my fears relieved. How precious did that grace appear The hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come, ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far And grace will lead me home. The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures; He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures.

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail, And mortal life shall cease, I shall possess, within the veil, A life of joy and peace.

(Portion of lyrics)

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. One of the most prominent churches Paul helped establish was in Ephesus. Paul spent long stretches of time there teaching with great success. Just a few years later, he was imprisoned in Rome and he wrote to them the letter we call the book of Ephesians in the Bible. It was a letter to believers and the churches to strengthen and encourage them in their faith? 

Question: What is Paul reminding all believers about?

 Ephesians 2:8 (New Living Translation)
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
Here’s a wonderfully rich opportunity for us to reflect on “Amazing Grace”. This can be so powerful, especially for those of us who’ve lost the sense of the power of grace and salvation in our lives. Give yourself a gift by slowing down to immerse yourself in this moment and to personalize the words of this song:

 

“Amazing grace, How sweet the sound…”

QUESTION: When was the first time you understood and experienced God’s grace? How did you feel when you realized that God loved and forgave you without any need for you to do anything in return, except accept the gift for yourself?

 

“That saved a wretch like me…”

QUESTION: What helps you to remember your daily need for God? What are some things that only God can do for you that you can’t do for yourself?

 

“I once was lost, but now am found…”

QUESTION: Where were you when God found you? What was happening in your life when you first realized your need for God? Have there been other times when you’ve drifted away and God has brought you back?

 

“Was blind, but now I see…”

QUESTION: Where has God changed your view of a circumstance in your life?

 

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

Thank God for His amazing grace. Ask Him to reveal any area(s) you have not surrendered. Then allow Him the time to make His grace and mercy brand new.

 

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO for the Week of 7/06-Spiritual Independence

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

LIO 7/03— No More Tears

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

FRIDAY— No More Tears
Big Point: Heaven will be tear-free. Praise God!

          

         Every single one of us has shed tears over some heartache, tragedy or loss. This earthly life is filled with the tears and cries of a broken world. Sometimes, the heaviness of life feels like too much. Yet, there is hope!

There is a day when Jesus will wipe away our tears for the rest of eternity. Can you imagine that? It’s not like we’ll lose the ability to cry, rather there will no longer be tragedy or heartache to cry about. Think about this:

No more death,

No more missing children,

No more divorce,

No heart attacks or cancer,

No racism or prejudice,

No more human trafficking…

Jesus will redeem and restore our world so that for the rest of eternity, we will experience joy, peace and fulfillment. It kind of makes you want to shout “Come on, Jesus! Come on!” Yet, while we are waiting for that day, Jesus calls us to share the gospel near and far so that everyone we know can enjoy heaven along with us.

 

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

Question #1: When God says that He will wipe all tears away from our eyes, He will remove the tears, but what else will be eliminated?

 

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

 

Question #2: In the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sinned. At that point, our human bodies were under a curse, which is why our physical bodies die. Yet, it won’t always be this way. What does Revelation 22:3 tell us about the future? How can that bring you hope for today?

 

Revelation 22:3 (New Living Translation)
No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him.

Answer:

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
What circumstances or situations bring tears—shed or unshed—to your eyes? While we wait for our tear-free future, God promises to be our strength and help today. If you need a prayer, you can use these words: Dear God, I look forward to the day when You will wipe away all of our tears and the hardships of this world that break our hearts. Yet, today I am struggling with (fill-in the situation) and I need Your strength, provision and wisdom to guide me. Amen.

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS—Answer these questions with your friends and family:

  1. On a scale of 1-10 (1 very comfortable, 10 not at all comfortable), how would you rate your comfort level with the topic of heaven? Explain the rating you chose.
  2. Barb talked about the present Heaven (what Heaven is now,) and the future Heaven, (what it will be after Christ’s return to Earth.) What resonated most with you about that? Discuss.
  3. Read Luke 15:1-10. Residents of heaven have knowledge of what’s happening on Earth. While we often hear that people in Heaven can’t see what’s happening on Earth, how does this passage challenge you to think about that differently? Read through the verses again, but this time think about what this passage demonstrates to us about what is most important to Jesus and then our role as believers right now. Discuss.
  4. In the future, our physical bodies will be resurrected and transformed into eternal bodies that will last forever. Read Luke 24:38-40 and discuss Jesus’ resurrected body and identify some clues about our future eternal bodies.
  5. With the discussion of heaven, there is also another eternal reality opposite from heaven…Hell. Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven says, “If Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection didn’t deliver us from an eternal Hell, his work on the cross is less heroic, less potent, less consequential, and thus less deserving of our worship and praise.” Is there an area that causes tension for you in this? Celebration? Can you confidently say the following? “Yes, I’m going to heaven.” Why or why not? Discuss.
  6. Read Revelation 21:1-8. How can these verses serve as motivation to you to lovingly share the good news of Jesus today?

 

June 2015 Memory Verse:

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

 Romans 15:4 (New International Version)

Weekend Updates!

  • Next Weekend: Join us for “Spiritual Independence”. Please note, there are no Saturday services due to the holiday.
  • Missional Members—You Can Still Renew! Renew online at CedarCreek.tv/membership or visit the Welcome Center during any weekend service.
  • MOAB is coming July 19th! It’s our 4th annual Mother of All Baptisms at the Perrysburg Campus. This is our all-campus gathering and our summer celebration of baptism. Have you prayed to accept Christ and haven’t been baptized? Sign-up to be baptized at MOAB at CedarCreek.tv/moab. Either way, come be a part of this massive celebration!
  • Has your life been changed by Jesus? Share your story with us at Godchangedme@CedarCreek.tv
  • TONIGHT! Celebrate Recovery: Find support and encouragement at Celebrate Recovery at 7pm, CedarCreek.tv/celebraterecovery

 

Have some feedback? Email questions or comments to MarnaW@CedarCreek.tv

Each week the Living It Out (LIO) is put together by a team of writers, proofers and content editors. Thank you to this week’s team!

Interested in serving? Email MarnaW@ CedarCreek.tv

RESOURCES:

Alcorn, Randy Heaven (booklet) 

Alcorn, Randy – Heaven (book)

Christianity Today

Gty.org

 

 

 

LIO 7/02– Heaven is Not Our Default Destination

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

THURSDAY Heaven is Not Our Default Destination
Big Point: We will go to one of two destinations when we die. Most won’t be going to heaven.

If there were no hell, the loss of heaven would be hell.

– C.H. Spurgeon

 

In an Indiana cemetery, the follow epitaph is on a tombstone:

Pause stranger, when you pass me by,

As you are now, so once was I.

As I am now, so you will be.

So prepare for death and follow me.

 

An unknown passerby scratched these words beneath:

To follow you, I’m not content,

Until I know which way you went.

 

     Judging by what’s said at most funerals, you’d think nearly everyone’s going to heaven, wouldn’t you? This is tough to hear, but Jesus made it clear that most people aren’t going to heaven. Listen to his words: “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

     We shouldn’t just cross our fingers and hope that our names (or the names of our friends and loved ones) are automatically written in the Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). We can know, we should know, before we die. And because we may die at any time, we need to know now—not next month or next year. Many imagine that it is civilized, humane and compassionate to deny the existence of an eternal hell, but in fact it is arrogant that we, as creatures, would dare to take what we think is the moral high ground in opposition to what God, the Creator, has clearly revealed. We don’t want to believe that others deserve eternal punishment, because if they do, so do we. But if we understand God’s nature and ours, we would be shocked not that some people could go to hell (where else would sinners go?), but that anyone would be permitted into heaven. By denying the endlessness of hell, we minimize Christ’s work on the cross. Why? Because we lower the stakes of deception. If Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection didn’t deliver us from an eternal hell, his work on the cross is less heroic, less potent, less consequential, and thus less deserving of our worship and praise.” (Excerpted from “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn)

 

READ and THINK What does the Bible say?

  1. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 7 that there are two gates, two destinies when we die—we either go to heaven or to hell.

Question: Matthew 7 refers to a narrow and wide gate. Where does the narrow gate lead? Where does the wide gate lead? Why do only a few find the narrow gate?

Matthew 7:13-14 (New International Version)
13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

Answer:

 

  1. The Bible teaches that we cannot earn our way to heaven. We can never do enough good deeds; there is no balancing scale to record our actions. We are not automatically going to heaven. Our default destination is hell!

Question: What gift is God offering each of us? What was the payment for the purchase of that gift?

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

Answer:

 

LIVE What will you do now?
Many people ignore thoughts of life after death or are unsure of whether heaven and hell even exist. In light of this week’s study, what can you tell a person who is unsure of where they are going when they die?GA6thur

 

 

 

Who do you know—perhaps a family member, coworker, neighbor or friend—that needs to hear Jesus’ message of love and salvation? What steps will you take this week to reach out to that person?

 

 

 

 

 

PRAY God, what do you want me to know and do?
Thank Jesus for dying on the cross and allowing you to enter the narrow gates of heaven. Pray that God shows you how to reach the people in your life that need to hear His message of love and salvation.

 

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 7/01– What’s Happening in Heaven Now?

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

WEDNESDAY – What’s Happening in Heaven Now?
Big Point: Everyone in heaven is cheering us on!

Heaven doesn’t make this life less important; it makes it more important.

-Billy Graham

    What do people in heaven know about what’s happening here on earth? Here’s a tougher question: Does the fact that large numbers of people reject Jesus Christ and end up in hell cause sadness for the residents in heaven? Here’s some insight from Randy Alcorn’s book, “Heaven”. Many books on heaven maintain that those in heaven cannot be aware of people and events on earth because they would be made unhappy by all of the suffering and evil; thus heaven would not truly be heaven. However, Alcorn believes God knows exactly what’s happening on earth, yet it doesn’t diminish heaven for Him. Likewise, it’s heaven for the angels, even through they also know what’s happening on earth. In fact, angels in heaven see the torment of hell, but it doesn’t negate their joy in God’s presence.

    So, how can heaven remain the place of eternal joy and perfection, even if God, angels and the redeemed know about the heartache and depravity on earth as well as the horror of hell? Here’s more from Alcorn: Happiness in heaven is not based on ignorance, but perspective. Those who live in the presence of Christ find great joy in worshipping God and living as righteous beings in rich fellowship in a sinless environment. And since residents of heaven have knowledge of what’s happening here on earth, it wouldn’t be a stretch to suppose they are praying to God for us!

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. The Parable of the Lost Sheep helps us to understand a God who would forgive sinners who come to Him for mercy. But also, a God who tenderly searches for sinners and then joyfully forgives them must possess an extraordinary love! This is the kind of extraordinary love God has for you!

Question: What does this verse tell us about what the residents in heaven know about what’s happening here on earth?

Luke 15:7 (New Living Translation)
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

Answer:

 

  1. The Christian life involves hard work. When we face hardship and discouragement, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. But we are not alone; there is help. Many have already made it through life, enduring far more difficult circumstances than we have experienced and they are cheering us on!

Question: Who is cheering us on in heaven? Why are the residents of heaven cheering for us? 

Hebrews 12:1 (New Living Translation)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
It’s encouraging to know that God, the angels and the believers in heaven are cheering us on toward a life of greater faith. Think about friends or family who have passed on to heaven. Why would they cheer for you? Why should that be an encouragement to you?

 

 

One of the things we must remember is that even though the residents of heaven have some awareness of what’s happening on earth, GA6we are not to pray to them for help. Check out Hebrews 4:16 and Matthew 6:9. What do these verses remind us about how we are to pray?

 

 

When pain and suffering come, we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus also suffered. He has promised to never leave us and he is also cheering for us in heaven. Can you visualize this whenever you are faced with a challenge to your faith? How can visualizing Jesus beckoning to you to draw toward him encourage you in tough times?

 

PRAY….God, what do you want me to know and do?
Today pray as the Bible instructs us to pray: Our Father in heaven, may Your name be kept holy. May Your kingdom come soon. May Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those that sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. Amen.

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 6/30– What Happens to Believers After They Die?

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

TUESDAY– What Happens to Believers After They Die?
Big Point: Jesus’ resurrected body is the model for our future bodies.

 

This earthly body is slow and heavy in all its motions, listless and soon tired with action. But our heavenly bodies shall be as fire; as active and as nimble as our thoughts are.

-John Wesley

 

     If you ask twenty strangers on the street what our bodies will be like in heaven, you would more than likely get twenty different answers. Some believe that we will float around like spirits, be reincarnated as animals or have powers to control the world. When we dig into the Bible, we discover a different reality concerning our after-death bodies. The greatest example for what our bodies will be like is the only resurrected body that was seen in the New Testament by many people: Jesus.

     When Jesus returned to the disciples after the resurrection, we don’t hear accounts that would lead us to believe that Jesus looked any different than before he was crucified. People recognized him as Jesus—in fact, once God disguised the resurrected Jesus so that he wouldn’t be recognized. The Bible never mentions any abstract features concerning his appearance. In fact, Jesus’ resurrected body included the wounds on his hands and feet. These descriptions lead us to believe that our bodies, at least from an appearance or external standpoint, will be extremely similar to the way that they are now. There is no reason to believe that we will not walk, talk and eat the very same way we do now.

     The human body is by far the most incredible creation of all time. Our DNA is a message masterfully encoded that results in the way that every cell in our body acts and works together. The more scientists study the body, the more fascinated they are by the irreducible complexity that has been designed into it. God certainly did not spend all of this time and energy to let the body go to waste. With that said, not everything present in our earthly body will be in heaven. Our eternal bodies will be void of pain, sickness and deformities. It is very healthy to long for the day that God will take away our sin and pain and place us into our new perfect bodies.

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. Shortly after Jesus was resurrected, the disciples found themselves staring at a man that looked like Jesus but could only be him if he had returned from the dead.

Question: Do the reactions of the disciples point to Jesus looking anything other than the human man he was prior to being crucified? How did they know that it was Jesus?

Luke 24:38-43 (New Living Translation)
38 “Why are you frightened?” he (Jesus) asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” 40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,   43 and he ate it as they watched.

 Answer:

 

 LIVE… What will you do now?
How’s your body feeling lately? What hurts, flares up or isn’t functioning as it should?

 

After his resurrection, Jesus appeared before his disciples and hundreds of others with a physically resurrected body that allowed him to walk, talk and eat. We’re told that our bodies will be like his. How does the hope of a perfect future eternal body change the way you look at some of your body’s current flaws?

 

Do you find it interesting that Jesus’ scars on his hands and feet were still visible, even on his resurrected body? What kind of clues might that give you about your eternal body and it’s uniqueness?

 

Check out this quote from well-known humorist, Erma Bombeck: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

 

Now understanding the time and effort God invested in creating your current body, how will you use it to honor Him?

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you to focus your eyes on heaven and help you to understand that pain and sickness is only a temporary condition. Thank God for the wonderful body that He has given you and the eternal body that He has prepared for you in heaven. Finally, pray that God will continue to reveal ways that you can more completely honor Him with your current body.

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 6/29–Series: The Great Adventure-The Next Adventure

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

Everybody wishes they could go to heaven but no one wants to die.

unknown

     If you were to make a list of uncomfortable or difficult spiritual conversations, the topic of heaven probably wouldn’t be at the top of the list. After all, heaven can be described as beautiful, peaceful, calm and perfect. The idea of heaven is comforting to us, especially when we think of lost loved ones and know that they are in a better place.

So while the topic of heaven may be a fairly comforting one, sometimes our understanding can be a little hazy when we start to think of practical questions about heaven. Questions like:

¨  Will I know my loved one when I get there?

¨  Will my beloved pet be there?

¨  Do people in heaven know what is happening here on earth?

¨  What will I do in heaven?

     Which questions are you wondering about? Most Christians know that they should be excited about heaven, except most Christians are actually more relieved that they are not going to hell. Their secret worry…that heaven will be boring and they will be stuck in that boredom for all of eternity. What about you?

      Prolific Christian writer and thinker, C.S. Lewis spoke of this confusion about heaven when he wrote, “Most of us find it very difficult to want ‘heaven’ at all—except in so far as ‘heaven’ means meeting again our friends who have died. One reason for this difficulty is that we have not been trained; our whole education tends to fix our minds on this world. Another reason is that when heaven is in us, we do not recognize it.”

     Here’s the thing: humans have a 100% mortality rate. Did you know that three people die every second, 180 every minute and nearly 11,000 people die each hour? Every single day, 250,000 people die. That’s one-quarter of a million people every single day. Death is a difficult, yet shared human experience. Do you believe that death is the end or could it be the beginning of a new adventure? In his book, “Heaven”, Randy Alcorn says this: “God uses suffering and impending death to unfasten us from this earth and set our minds on what lies beyond.” We recognize that these are wonderful words for those of us who haven’t been impacted by a recent death. These same words may feel painful for those of you who’ve buried a loved one recently or too soon. We share in your pain and sorrow—and we hope that this weekend’s message and this week’s LivingItOut will bring you hope and comfort.

      This weekend, Barb discussed why Christ-followers need to recognize that heaven is our next great adventure. Furthermore, not only is heaven our next adventure, but it will be the BEST adventure of all. Whenever someone passes away, we often like to say, “He’s gone on to a better place.” Well, heaven isn’t just a better place. It’s the BEST PLACE EVER!

      While many think that God has shrouded heaven in a cloudy, mysterious veil, the truth is that God tells us a lot about heaven in the Bible. This week, we’re going to learn all about heaven and why we need to live for our next great adventure!

THIS WEEK’S STUDY CONCLUDES OUR ADVENTURE THROUGH THE BIBLE WITH A LOOK INTO PRESENT AND FUTURE HEAVEN.

 

MONDAY– No Eye Has Seen…Or Have We?
Big Point: God has revealed a lot about heaven to us!

 

We may speak about a place where there are no tears, no death, no fear, no night; but those are just the benefits of heaven. The beauty of heaven is seeing God.

-Max Lucado

 

     Do you love being at home? Home is the place where you can kick your feet up, be around those you love and feel accepted for who you are. Our homes have physical brick and mortar boundaries and fences that mark off property lines. Imagine for a moment, a home that has no boundaries. A home that was created by The Creator, Jesus, himself. This glorious home is awaiting for all who call Jesus our Lord and Savior. Heaven will be a physical place where we will live!

     In 2 Kings 6:17, the prophet Elisha and his servant are on the brink of war with the Armenian army. Elisha’s servant is fearful and doubts their ability to win even with God on their side. So, Elisha prays for the servant’s eyes to be opened. The servant is able to see that the hillside is filled with horses and chariots of fire! He is able to see that God has sent heaven to earth! Randy Alcorn, author of the book “Heaven”, writes that while many things about heaven are kept secret, God has revealed much to us.

     People often ask, “Will heaven be boring?” or “Is it just going to be one eternal church service?” Alcorn tackles this question and the answer he offers will leave you on the edge of your seat. This is what he writes: “The New Earth will be a place where the impulses to come home and to launch out into a new adventure will both be fully satisfied. It’ll be a place where we’re constantly discovering—where everything is always fresh, and possession of a thing is as good as the pursuit of it. Yet it’s the place where we’ll be fully at home—where everything is as it ought to be and where we find undiminished, that mysterious something we never fully found in this life.”

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. In the following passage, Jesus is speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper. He explained to them that one of them would betray him and one would deny him. Then, Jesus goes on to explain that he would be leaving them.

Question: Did Jesus prepare a place for his disciples? How did Jesus say they would make it to where he was going?

John 14:1-6 (New Living Translation)
1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. 2 There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?     3 When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Answer:

 

  1. People wonder if heaven is a real place. Here’s a passage about an early Christian martyr named Stephen. He was arrested for preaching the Good News. As Stephen pleads his case, he strikes a nerve with the High Council by recalling their sins. After his case, he is dragged out and stoned, yet before Stephen dies, something amazing happens.

Question: What did Stephen see?

Acts 7:55-56 (New Living Translation)
55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
Do you believe that God has prepared a place for you in eternity? How can the knowledge that a future home awaits you ease some of the worries and fears that you have in this life?

 

Did you find Stephen’s story in Acts 7 inspiring? Instead of trying to save his physical body, Stephen stayed true to his faith and God showed Stephen what was waiting for him. Have you ever thought about what your life would be like in heaven? What are you excited about? What are you still wondering about?

 

Do you long for heaven? If yes, what are you most looking forward to? If no, what steps will you take to learn more about what God has revealed about heaven?

 

PRAY….God, what do you want me to know and do?
Thank God for preparing such a wonderful eternity for you. Ask God to open your eyes to see His glory. Pray for endurance as you wait for Christ’s return.

 

 

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.

 

Thank you for reading today’s LivingItOut! We encourage you to take it one step further by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you! CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

 

 

LIO for the Week of 6/29-The Great Adventure: The Next Adventure

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

Deeper Study

2015 Memory Verses

September, 2015
"Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me."
2 Corinthians 12:9

August, 2015
“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”
Hebrews 4:12

July, 2015
“You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.”
2 Timothy 2:2

June, 2015
“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”
Romans 15:4

May, 2015
“For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen.”
Romans 11:36

April, 2015
“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.”
Ephesians 3:20

March, 2015
"I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark."
John 12:46

February, 2015
“ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1

January, 2015
“Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”
1 Timothy 4:8

Past Memory Verses

Click here to download the 2014 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.