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LIO 7/24 – John was Great Because He Suffered Critics

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THURSDAY – John was Great Because He Suffered Critics
Big Point: Never let critics stop you from serving God.

Since God intends to make you like Jesus, he will take you through the same experiences Jesus went through. That includes loneliness, temptations, stress, criticism, rejection, and many other problems.

– Rick Warren

John suffered many critics during his lifetime. He faced them bravely and continued serving God in spite of them. Living as a Christ follower comes with built-in scrutiny. If you are not being criticized, you’re probably doing it wrong!

People criticized both John and Jesus. In Luke 7:33-35 Jesus states, “For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.” People will criticize regardless of what we do. Critics don’t make sense. They accused John of being possessed, yet in Luke 7:28, Jesus said that John is the greatest man who has ever lived. Though not perfect like Jesus, John was a great, godly man.

We need to be strong in our faith despite our critics. Imagine Jesus calling you “great” one day! On the other hand, part of being great means not becoming a critic ourselves. John called people to repentance, and was very demanding in doing so, but he did not falsely accuse or gossip. John preached the message God gave him, and he let the people think, do and say whatever they would.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. The Sadducees were aristocrats who were concerned more with politics than religion. The Pharisees acknowledged God, but had oral traditions that didn’t line up with the teachings of the Bible. John confronts both of these groups.

Question: Why was John so harsh with the Pharisees and Sadducees?

Matthew 3:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee God’s coming wrath? 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.





2. At this point, John has already upset the Pharisees and Sadducees. But before giving them an opportunity to argue, he knows what they will say and refutes it.

Question: What does it mean to produce good fruit? What might a life like a barren tree look like?

Matthew 3:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. 10 Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.





3. Ultimately, Herod had John the Baptist killed. As the verse below states, he had initially decided not to kill him; however, he later changed his mind when pressured in front of his party guests.

Question: Herod thought only of what he could gain. What can we do to keep our selfishness in check and give glory to God instead of ourselves?

Matthew 14:3-5 (New Living Translation)
3 For Herod had arrested and imprisoned John as a favor to his wife Herodias (the former wife of Herod’s brother Philip). 4 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry her.” 5 Herod wanted to kill John, but he was afraid of a riot, because all the people believed John was a prophet.





LIVE… What will you do now?

God looks beyond our words and religious activities and into our hearts. What can you do to show that you have repented for your sins and turned to God?


John suspected the Pharisees and Sadducees would argue their heritage as an excuse for not living the way God wants. Are there any excuses you are using right now for not doing what God is calling you to do? If so, how can you change things? If not, would you say you are producing good fruit?


John’s faith eventually got him killed. Do you think your faith is strong enough that you would be willing to face death? Discuss the conflicts that may have been going through John’s mind once he was imprisoned.




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

Ask God to help you stay strong in your faith, like John the Baptist. Ask Him to deafen your ears to your critics and help you stay focused on Him. Thank Him for giving you John’s story as an example for how to be great.

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 7/23- John Was Great Because He Called People to Repentance and Baptism

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WEDNESDAY – John Was Great Because He Called People to Repentance and Baptism
Big Point: John boldly called people to true repentance and reconciliation to God.

Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in a real change of life. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of and his conversion is a fiction.
– Charles Spurgeon

What is sin and how do you truly repent? Where does Baptism come into play? Let’s take a look at this as explained by Pastor Mark Driscoll. “Sin is the missing of a target, a wandering from the path. Even when it is familiar, sin is never normal. Above all, sin disrupts and resists the vital human relation to God.” So, we must repent.

There is false repentance and true repentance. False repentance sees other people’s sin, not your own. It tries to manipulate God by being good so He will bless you. It just says, “I’m sorry,” because of being caught, and feeling bad, but the heart is not transformed. It also tries to minimize the sin, or blame the sin on someone else and makes excuses.

True repentance is a process, which begins with a conviction that comes from God. He speaks to us through His word, or the Spirit, letting us know that what we did was wrong. We then confess, “Ok, Lord. You are right. I am wrong.” As Pastor Mark says: “It is talking to God about your sin.” Simple as that. The next step is where we actually kill the sin that is keeping us away from God. This is also where John the Baptist’s ministry has its roots. Repent! We have to completely turn away from it and turn toward God. He sent Jesus to pay for those very sins. Pastor Mark says “Kill it, because it killed Jesus.” Then, we have to make it right; not with God, like penance, but with your fellow man. Apologize, re-pay and make it right. Humble yourself enough to go make peace with people whom you may have wronged.

We must also be reconciled to God. This is possible through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. John understood this. Pastor Mark says, “And Jesus declares that John is great because he calls people to repentance. He cut through all of the cultural clutter, noise and nonsense. He lays an ax at the root of the problem and he goes after sin with a furious courage and he calls people to repent of sin. And God would call us all to repent of sin, because he loves us.” After we believe and we repent, baptism is where we make the bold statement, “I am a sinner, and I am repenting.”

To sum it up, Pastor Mark asks: “Will we declare God to be just, by ourselves declaring ourselves to be unjust, and in need of his justice through the cross of Jesus? You know why John had such strong reaction now, don’t you? He was loved and hated, but he could not be ignored. That’s John. That is the greatness of John.”

READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?

1. This passage comes right after the account of Jesus’ birth, where the Bible fast forwards to John as he is preparing people for the coming of the Messiah.

Question: What was John’s message to the people? What was he challenging them to do?

Matthew 3:1-2 (New Living Translation)
1 In those days John the Baptist came to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, 2 “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”



2. Jesus has told the people that John had been mentioned in the scriptures as the one who would prepare the way. He spoke very highly of John and confirmed the prophesy of his coming in the scriptures.

Question: There were two different reactions to God’s plan as laid out by John. What were they? What held the Pharisees back?

Luke 7:29-30 (New Living Translation)
29 When they heard this, all the people—even the tax collectors—agreed that God’s way was right, for they had been baptized by John. 30 But the Pharisees and experts in religious law rejected God’s plan for them, for they had refused John’s baptism.


3. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he lays out what it requires to be saved in a very clear, black and white manner. He lets us know that salvation is for everyone!

Question: How does salvation come? What does it mean to openly declare your faith?

Romans 10:9-10 (New Living Translation)
9 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.


LIVE…What will you do now?

Think of those things in your life of which you need to repent. What is holding you back? How can you overcome those barriers and turn back toward God?

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

Take a few minutes and ask for God to uncover the sin in your life so that you can repent and turn toward Him. Thank Him for Jesus’ death and resurrection, and the free gift of salvation and reconciliation!

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 7/22- John was Fearless and Sacrificial in His Service to Jesus

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TUESDAY – John was Fearless and Sacrificial in His Service to Jesus
Big Point: WE must decrease that He may increase.

No sacrifice should be too great for Him who gave Himself for us.

-Harry Ironside

John the Baptist’s big point about our relationship with Jesus: We must decrease that he may increase. Although the Bible says John was the greatest man to ever walk the earth, prophesied about at least 400 years earlier, who would have followers that would come to hear him preach miles away from town, his main point was decrease yourself so that Jesus will have room to fill you up. He made this point to the people that walked miles into the wilderness to hear him speak. He then baptized all those who accepted this truth. The people came to see him, but he said “don’t look to me, look to Him.” John was sacrificial in that he knew his role and was honored to have it. He gladly lived meagerly and alone. He knew his ministry would end in his death, but he never wavered.

How often can you say that about your faith walk? Is it easy for you to take criticism and derision about being Christian or do you downplay it so as to not create controversy? Do you stand by Biblical principles or do you fold when they get too hard to follow? John never wavered for he knew through and through that Jesus was his Lord. He knew while he waited in prison; even to his death he knew that God was with him. A lot of people would ask where God was when all of this was happening to John, but John knew the Truth.

READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?

1. The people expected the prophet to be full of pomp and circumstance, since he would be heralding in the chosen king. In this passage, Jesus tries to explain to the people that John is the prophet they have been waiting for, but that their expectations are wrong. Instead of a mighty herald, John is a strong and humble servant to Jesus.

Question: What is Jesus’ point about John and his behavior?

Luke 7:24-26 (New Living Translation)
24 After John’s disciples left, Jesus began talking about him to the crowds. “What kind of man did you go into the wilderness to see? Was he a weak reed, swayed by every breath of wind? 25 Or were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people who wear beautiful clothes and live in luxury are found in palaces. 26 Were you looking for a prophet? Yes, and he is more than a prophet.


2. In this discourse between Jesus and John, Jesus quotes the prophesy about John made by Malachi 400 years earlier to show the people that John is a great man. John responds by downplaying his role and giving all the glory to God.

Question: How does John’s response in John 3:27-30 reinforce Jesus’ remarks from Luke 7:27-28?

Luke 7:27-28 (New Living Translation)
27 John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way before you.’ 28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”

John 3:27-30 (New Living Translation)
27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless God gives it from heaven. 28 You yourselves know how plainly I told you, ‘I am not the Messiah. I am only here to prepare the way for him.’ 29 It is the bridegroom who marries the bride, and the best man is simply glad to stand with him and hear his vows. Therefore, I am filled with joy at his success. 30 He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.


LIVE…What will you do now?

How do you live sacrificially for God?



Do you feel that you are moving toward decreasing yourself so that God may increase in you? If not, what can you do to move in that direction?



Are you strong and unwavering in your commitment to Jesus or do you find yourself backing down in tough situations? In what practical ways can you become more fearless in your commitment?



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

Thank God for His amazing son, sent to show us what perfect fearlessness and sacrifice look like. Ask Him to help you continue to decrease yourself so that He may increase in you. Thank Him for His forgiveness, also shown through His son, for when you fall short. Praise Him for His grace and unending 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 7/21- Legends: John the Baptist— The Original Survivor

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I baptize with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

–John The Baptist, Matthew 3:11 (NLT)

Survivor is the longest running and one of the most profitable reality TV shows ever. Next spring, Survivor will air its 30th season. It would take you nearly three weeks of continual binge watching to make it through every episode!
Why is it so popular? Perhaps it’s the million dollar prize, but many other shows have offered a million dollars to the winner and flopped. Perhaps it’s the strategy and social aspect of Survivor that has captivated America. Or perhaps, it’s the thrill of watching regular people struggle to survive (the contestants must provide food, water and shelter for themselves while competing for physical comforts and advantages in the game) in a remote location. Or maybe it’s the drama. It’s tough to be sure.

While the show Survivor is a game, for some, survival is a way of life. John the Baptist lived the Survivor life. The Bible says he was a wild man. Matthew 3:4-6 says, “John’s clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.”

John was a bit of an odd ball. He lived away from the rest of humanity and probably smelled a bit like it, too. He dressed strangely and ate weird things that most Israelites wouldn’t have touched. So, when John comes out of the wilderness, whatever he says attracts people like a magnet. What was so great about him?

John believed in Jesus and the scriptures, which are really one in the same. The book of John (not John the Baptist, but the disciple John) says that Jesus is the Word that became flesh. John 1:1 records that the Word was with God and the Word was God. John came to point to the light of God’s Word. John 1:8-9 says, “John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

His fearlessness stood out. His commitment. He had the Holy Spirit with him from birth (as seen in Luke 1:15). Mary (Jesus’ mom) meets Elizabeth (John’s mom) while they are both pregnant. Baby John jumped for joy in the belly of his mom in the presence of Jesus.

John is hard to pin down. He was a weird guy, sort of…well…quirky. Mark Driscoll calls him Jesus’ homeschooled cousin. He was the first prophet in 400 years. Typically, a prophet brings a message of repentance, and his message was completely anointed by God.

Repent and be baptized. That was his simple but powerful message. And he is the character we’ll study all week!


MONDAY – John the Baptist was Great Because He Trusted in Jesus and in the Bible
Big Point: We are only great when we are great in God’s eyes.

John the Baptist never performed any miracles. Yet, he was greater than any of the Old Testament prophets.

-Leonard Ravenhill

Who does the world consider to be great? Dr. Martin Luther King? Abraham Lincoln? LeBron James? The Kardashians? (Yikes!) What does it mean to be great? Webster’s American Dictionary defines great as “very important; noted, remarkable,” among other things.

Who does God consider to be great? Before we answer that question it is important to understand that there is a very evident theme throughout the Bible. What God considers important is often quite different from what we consider important. More often than not what God considers valuable, noteworthy, notable and of critical importance is diametrically opposed to our list of crucial elements in life. The first will be last. The meek will inherit the earth. You must be humble to be exalted, but the proud will be humbled. Seemingly, up is down and black is white until we begin to see life from God’s point of view.

So who did God’s own Son consider to be great among human beings? Rich and powerful kings? Mighty warriors? Nope. Jesus said that the greatest person who ever lived was John the Baptist, a wild and woolly woodsman whose clothing was made from the hair of camels and whose diet resembled something from a game of truth or dare. He was loud, confrontational and eccentric.

Why did Jesus regard this bizarre man as great? John recognized his purpose in life, which was to announce the arrival of Jesus the Messiah and preach repentance. He devoted his entire being to that singular purpose, even though it would eventually cost him his life.

Yet, even John questioned Jesus to be sure he really was the Messiah of which ancient prophecies spoke. Jesus was not upset with this double-checking. Jesus quoted scripture that he knew a man of God, like John, would recognize as proof that Jesus was the Son of God. John lived a life of committed obedience and the Son of God made a point to recognize John as an example of a truly great human being. If you want to be great you need to ask yourself, “By whose definition do I want to be great: the world’s or God’s?”

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

1. In the following verses an angel tells John the Baptist’s father what his son will be like before he is even born. In verse 17, the angel quotes scripture from the book of Malachi, which was written nearly 500 years prior to John’s birth.

Question: What does this passage tell us about the details of God’s plans for our lives? What had God determined would be the purpose of John’s life on earth?

Luke 1:15b-17 (New Living Translation)
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. 16 And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. 17 He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.




2. John sent two of his disciples to question Jesus to see if he indeed was the Messiah. Jesus answers John in verse 22 by quoting scripture written about him by the prophet Isaiah nearly 700 years earlier.

Question: Why would Jesus quote centuries old writings to answer a question about his authenticity? And, what does this tell us about Jesus’ grasp of the Old Testament?

Luke 7:20-23 (New Living Translation)
20 John’s two disciples found Jesus and said to him, “John the Baptist sent us to ask, ‘Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?’” 21 At that very time, Jesus cured many people of their diseases, illnesses and evil spirits, and he restored sight to many who were blind. 22 Then he told John’s disciples, “Go back to John and tell him what you have seen and heard – the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised to life, and the Good News is being preached to the poor. 23 And tell him, ‘God blesses those who do not turn away because of me.’



LIVE … What will you do now?

Whom do you consider to be a great person and why? How do you think God would rate the greatness of the people you feel are noteworthy?



How important do you consider the writings of the Bible to be when you see the Son of God and the greatest human ever to have lived readily quoting and understanding Scripture? Will this change your view of memorizing Bible verses?



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

Thank God for having values that are so different from what this world has to offer. Ask Him to make clear to you the purpose He has for you in this life and then ask Him for His power and strength to fulfill that purpose as He would have you do it.

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 7/21- Legends: John the Baptist – The Original Survivor

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


LIO 7/18- Legends – Jesus Modeled Perfect Humility

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

FRIDAY—Jesus Modeled Perfect Humility
Big Point: As a follower of Jesus, you must put the needs of others above yourself!

Jesus was fully God and fully man. If anyone had a right to be demanding, selfish and self-absorbed, it was him! But, Jesus, the Messiah and King Eternal took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled himself. He stopped and talked with the lowest members of society. He was a man of the people, often putting their own needs above his own. He loved his disciples and showed it by his actions, even stooping to wash their feet—something that was reserved for the lowest servant in the house! Jesus cared for people, important and insignificant, and his actions backed that up.

Every day you face a battle against your pride. Every single day you choose to feed your own inflated sense of self or to model Christ-like behavior. Jesus is the perfect template for us. As Jesus did, we should seek to empty ourselves. Unlike Satan, unlike Adam and Eve, and unlike us, Jesus did not count equality with God something to be grasped. He emptied himself. It is only when you choose to remain empty, that God can fill you up with His amazing love—that He can supernaturally work through you by the power of His Holy Spirit.

To whom in your life do you need to show God’s love today? Whose needs do you need to put in front of your own? What does it look like for you to deny yourself and take up your cross today?

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

Jesus was humble and God glorifies him as a result. Likewise, if we repent of our pride and pursue humility in Jesus instead, by God’s grace we will be glorified with Him as well. We war against our pride not by focusing on our humility—which is just another way of focusing on ourselves—but rather, the humility of Jesus Christ.

Question: What actions and words did Jesus use to humble himself? How can you incorporate the humility of Jesus into your own life? Give some examples.

Philippians 2:6-8 (New Living Translation)

6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.

7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8   he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.




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

Ask God to point out any elements of pride in your life. Meditate on the characteristics of His son Jesus and thank God for providing a perfect example of humility for you.

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

1. There are many definitions of pride. Share with each other how you define the word PRIDE.

2. What makes being prideful so difficult to see in our own lives and what practical ways increase our awareness of its emergence?

3. How would you describe the basis of your relationships? Are you in relationships to serve yourself or others?

4. What are practical ways you can maintain humility in a relationship?

5. How have you seen pride destroy relationships? What can you do today to restore those bonds?

6. Read Philippians 2:1-11. Discuss ways in which this passage teaches us about Christ’s humility and God’s response to it. What does Jesus model for us to live out today​?

July 2014 Memory Verse:

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 (New Living Translation)

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: July 19th, 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
  • Next Weekend: Next week we will continue with the series, “Legends”. Lee Powell will be speaking about John the Baptist – The Original Survivor. Services are Saturday, July 19th—5:15 pm, 7:00 pm and Sunday, July 20th—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
  • Global Leadership Summit: This year’s Leadership Summit will be simulcast at all four CedarCreek campuses on August 14-15 (Thursday and Friday). Sign up today for the special discounted rate of $79 by visiting Cedarcreek.tv/Summit and entering the code LEAD14HS

Living It Out:
Have some feedback? Email questions or comments to LukeS@CedarCreek.tv
Want to find out more about the Living It Out? Check out tons of free resources or have this study sent directly to your daily email. Set your web browser to: livingitout.tv


Humilitas by John Dickman

Humility by C.J. Mahaney

7 Things You Should Know About Pride by Mark Driscoll

This week’s

Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:

Kaye Althaus

Stephanie Coil

Becky Miller

Luke Shortridge

Kelda Strasbourg

Nicki Zunnoor



LIO 7/17- Legends – Naaman Listened, Submitted and was Healed

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

Authority exercised with humility, and obedience accepted with delight are the very lines along which our spirits live.

-C.S. Lewis

THURSDAY – Naaman Listened, Submittedand was Healed
Big Point: Pride focuses on “me”. Humility leads out to God and others.

Pride often gets in the way and keeps us from the full joy of God and His plans for us. Naaman, the commander of the army for the king of Aram, was a great warrior. He had won numerous battles for his king, but he suffered from leprosy.

Naaman’s maid spoke of a prophet in Samaria whom she wished for Naaman to see so that he could be healed. The king of Aram, upon hearing this, sent Naaman to Israel with gifts of gold, silver and clothing to ask the prophet to heal his army commander. When Naaman approached the prophet Elisha’s home, Elisha sent out a message instructing Naaman to wash in the Jordan River seven times. This would restore his skin and heal him of the leprosy.

Naaman responds to the disrespect he feels. He becomes angry and storms off in a rage. He thinks from a human point of view. In his mind, he is superior to the Jews, so his hometown rivers should be just as good, or better, for healing.

It isn’t until his officers reason with him, suggesting that the prophet’s advice is worth taking, that Naaman obeys and is healed. Naaman becomes angry, but humbles himself and is cured of his leprosy. Obviously, it wasn’t the strength of the river that had the power to cure, that rested in God Himself! But when he humbled himself, God showed Naaman favor. Uzziah, as you’ve read this week, became prideful and was cursed with leprosy. Obviously, these are not binding laws, but they do show how God favors the humble.

Mark Driscoll says, “Pride bends inward, but humility turns out to God and others.” And, Martin Luther described sin as “the self bending in on the self. Pride makes it all about ‘me.’” Humility turns our affections and energies toward God’s glory and others’ good. We start to ask how we can help. We start thinking about ways we could serve or bless other people. We start to forget our own needs.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Not realizing the importance of divine freedom and the critical role of faith, Naaman thought there was something contemptible about having to bathe seven times in the river. If the prophetic healing was a meaningless ritual, Naaman might as well have stayed at home.

Question: What do Naaman’s pride and preconceptions hinder?

2 Kings 5:11-12 (New Living Translation)

11 But Naaman became angry and stalked away. “I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!” he said. “I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord his God and heal me! 12 Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage.




2. Naaman’s officers recognize his pride and encourage him to obey the prophet’s instructions. Wise counsel and perspective can help to disseminate pride’s angry or arrogant defenses.

Question: What is the result of Naaman’s obedience? What does the dissemination of pride lead to in our spirits?

2 Kings 5:13-14 (New Living Translation)

13 But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!’” 14 So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child, and he was healed!




3. Wisdom recognizes the importance of self-control. Arrogance and pride are easily recognized by others who will then withhold honor. Because humility involves the realistic appraisal of one’s place in relationship to others, it promotes a wise sense of the true order of things.

Question: How is wisdom the opposing force of disgrace?

Proverbs 11:2 (New Living Translation)

Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.




LIVE… What will you do now?

How has your pride hindered you from God’s healing, provision, grace, blessings or love in the past?



Even when God’s plans seem difficult or confusing, humble obedience brings great favor. Describe a situation, with others or with God, in which you humbled yourself and gained wisdom.



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

Thank God for His unending grace. Ask Him to help you respond to Him with humble obedience. Ask for His guidance in rooting out the sin of pride in your life. Praise God for His unfailing love and ceaseless patience.

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 7/16- Legends – God Gave Uzziah Success as Long as He Sought After Him

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

It is, perhaps, one of the hardest struggles of the Christian life to learn this sentence – “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Thy name be glory.”

-Charles Spurgeon

WEDNESDAY – God Gave Uzziah Success as Long as He Sought After Him
Big Point: Seek God always and remain humble!

The story of Uzziah is told completely in 2 Chronicles 26. At the young age of sixteen, Uzziah was crowned king in Judah, replacing his father Amaziah. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord. He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the Lord, God gave him success. God helped him when he went to war against the Philistines and the Arabs. Nations brought tribute to Uzziah, and his fame spread, because he had become very powerful. Uzziah had a well-trained and large army. Uzziah provided shields, spears, helmets, coats of armor, bows and sling stones for the entire army. His fame continued to spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped by God. But, after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the Lord his God, and entered the temple of the Lord to burn incense on the altar of incense. Over eighty priests confronted King Uzziah in the temple. Uzziah became angry. While he was raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s temple, leprosy broke out on his forehead. King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house—leprous, and banned from the temple of the Lord.

Isn’t it ironic that he burned the incense to worship God? But, by not following the proper procedures and by not fearing the Lord, he was worshiping himself. He was saying to God, “I have a better way to worship you than what you’ve laid down.”

Mark Driscoll explains, “Pride is about my glory; humility is about God’s glory. Once the question of glory is settled, everything is settled. Resolve to give God the glory, and you’ll know the answer to the vast majority of the decisions in your life. If you’re fighting with your spouse, what should you do? Whatever brings God the most glory. If you’re disobeying your parents, what should you do? Whatever brings God the most glory. If you’re disagreeing with leadership, how should you conduct yourself? In a manner that brings God the most glory. If you have aspirations, what should you pursue? Whatever brings God the most glory. What you do, why you do it, how you do it, when you do it—humility considers every decision by asking, ‘Who gets the glory?’”

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

The book of 2 Chronicles in the Old Testament is concerned with the kingdom of Judah and the kings who reigned. Uzziah was taught to fear God and sought guidance from Him.

Question: How could fear of God and following God’s guidance make Uzziah a successful king?

2 Chronicles 26:5 (New Living Translation)

Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.




2. Moses warned Israel to be careful not to let success make them proud and rely on themselves rather than on God. King Uzziah is an example of “how not to let power go to your head.”

Question: In the earlier part of his reign, Uzziah feared God. When did he stop fearing God and begin relying on himself?

2 Chronicles 26:16 (New Living Translation)

But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar.




The Book of Proverbs consists of wise moral principles that direct the reader to wisdom and virtue. The Hebrew sages assumed that, given human intelligence and the gift of God’s wisdom in His self-revelation, God’s people would learn to discern the order and relationships that make for a meaningful and productive life.

Question: In what ways could the Lord punish those who are arrogant?

Proverbs 16:5 (English Standard Version)

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.




LIVE… What will you do now?

How and when do you seek God about what matters in your life?



Are there times when you just say “I’ve got this!” and forget about God?



Who gets the glory in your life?



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

Ask God to teach you to fear Him and seek guidance from Him. Ask God to help you remain humble even in your successes and to remember how Uzziah’s pride hindered his relationship with 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 7/15- Legends – Humility is Living Openhandedly

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

Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.

— Saint Augustine

Tuesday – Humility is Living Openhandedly
Big Point: Humility is a direction, not a destination.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I used to be proud, but I conquered that!”? That would be kind of funny, for the statement itself is prideful. In this world, and especially in our culture, it is hard to be humble. There is even a song that says so! The messages bombard us to be #1, look out for #1, be all you can be, go for it, grab the brass ring, do whatever it takes; the litany goes on and on. So, how do you live a life of humility among that barrage of messages to be proud? In his book, Humility, C. J. Mahaney describes himself as “a proud man pursuing humility by the grace of God.” The same could be said for all of us. As Christians, we venture in the direction of humility, by the grace of God.

As this quote from Mahaney, as well as the box quote by Augustine, suggests, laying the foundation of humility is a process. You begin by living a life that is honest and open, admitting mistakes and failures and recognizing God’s grace as the greatest and most important aspect of your life. You pursue a life that puts God first, and then others’ well being and happiness above your own. Of course, this is a path of progress, not perfection. It is not the easy path, but it is the most rewarding. However, the rewards may not be the ones this world tells you that you deserve. Living openhandedly means keeping our hearts humble and continually receiving the gift of God’s grace.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

In this verse, Paul is instructing the people of Philippi to live as Jesus lived. This “last will be first and the first, last” mentality is something that Paul discourses to the new church often.

Question: How does working to impress others create pride?

Philippians 2:3-4 (New Living Translation)

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.




2. This is a parable, along with several others, that Jesus told in which he was trying to explain and illustrate the incredible importance of humility.

Question: What is the difference between the two men’s prayers?

Luke 18:13-14 (New Living Translation)

13 But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.




3. The word for humble here actually means keeping your heart and mind low-lying or close to the ground. Peter learned this lesson the hard way! However, he knows for a fact it is the truth. Things may not have turned out as he imagined at first, but ultimately they were so much better.

Question: How often do you try to dictate what God should be doing in your life and when? What should you do instead?

1 Peter 5:6 (New Living Translation)

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.




LIVE… What will you do now?

Do you crave glory, recognition, reward or attention that is beyond your present station? How does that add up with Jesus’ insistence on humility?



Are you determined to love God and love others as you love yourself? How do you think about and act on that determination?



Some people struggle with the lie that humility means letting other people walk all over you. Jesus stood his ground, spoke the truth and yet, served the masses in humility. How can you remain humble without treating yourself as a doormat?



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

Thank God for His amazing gift of grace and unfailing love. Praise Him for His promises of treasure beyond comprehension for those who follow Him. Thank Him for His forgiveness when you fail to remain on the path of humility and for His unending desire to lead you back.

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 7/14- Legends – Elisha & Naaman—Legendary Fall

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

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.

-C.S. Lewis

“Three young men hopped on a bus in Detroit in the 1930’s and tried to pick a fight with a lone man sitting at the back of the vehicle. They insulted him. He didn’t respond. They turned up the heat of the insults. He said nothing. Eventually, the stranger stood up. He was bigger than they had estimated from his seated position—much bigger. He reached into his pocket, handed them his business card and walked off the bus and then on his way. As the bus drove on, the young men gathered around the card to read the words: Joe Louis. Boxer. They had just tried to pick a fight with the man who would be Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World from 1937 to 1949, the number one boxer of all time, according to the International Boxing Research Organization (second on the list is Muhammad Ali). They apparently said of Louis that he could knock out a horse with one punch. I struggle to think how he got that reputation, but the point is simple. Here is a man of immense power and skill, capable of defending his honor with a single, devastating blow. Yet, he chooses to forgo his status and hold his power for others—in this case, for some very fortunate young men.”

John Dickman recounts this sobering story in his book Humilitas. It’s easy to imagine the relief that washed over those three young men. But, what if Joe Louis had felt the need to prove himself? What if he had decided it wasn’t enough to be the “bigger person” and walk away? Presumably, those three young men would have had a very different experience. Louis’ humility is what allowed them to walk away, intact, wondering at the man they had just encountered.

Pride is a sticky thing to navigate. It is at the core of all humans to take pride in their achievements and accomplishments. It is also at the core of all humans to sin and, far too often, that sin is a result of pride. Pride is telling God, “I know what You want, but my way is better.” It’s documented throughout scripture. In every instance, a selfish desire was the motivator. For example, the Pharisees questioned Jesus in an attempt to showcase their superior knowledge. Jesus could have proved himself to them, but because of their hardened hearts, it probably wouldn’t have done any good. While the Jews showed tremendous pride, Jesus (who had every right to be prideful) chose the path of humility.

Mark Driscoll says, “Augustine, the great church father, likened pride to a mother who is pregnant with all other sins. In pride, Satan rebelled against God because he desired to be God. In pride, Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit because they wanted to be like God. In pride, we reject God’s wisdom, will and Word because we think we know better. All sin comes out of pride—and all virtue, all holiness and all glory to God are birthed out of humility. Is your heart pregnant with pride, or is it pregnant with humility?”

This week we will compare the stories of a prideful Uzziah and a humble Naaman. It will call into question your motivations and desires in an attempt to critically evaluate where your heart is focused.


MONDAY – Pride is Unwillingness to Let Go of Yourself
Big Point: Pride, or believing in one’s own ability, leaves no room for God!

It was pride that changed angels into devils; it is humility that makes men as angels.

-Saint Augustine

It’s easy to believe, deep down, that pride isn’t all that bad. Surely there are worse things than thinking, “Just believe in yourself and anything is possible!” That is not of the Bible. That is secular humanism. Believing in the goodness and ability of one’s self leaves no room for God!

Pride occurs when we place more value on our popularity, our pleasure or our power than our service to others. Or simply put, pride is preoccupation with self (good or bad).

Mark Driscoll wrote, “The most haunting verse in Scripture is found in both James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ If we insist on our way, our best, our fame, our glory, our best interest, the living God of the universe will work against us in direct opposition. Our pride puts us in this dreadful position.”

Everyone is proud. You’re proud. They’re proud. I’m proud. But, we’re all proud in different ways. It’s easy to point out pride in others while remaining oblivious to our own blind spots. Some of us think we deserve more money. Some of us think we deserve more respect. Some of us think we deserve more comfort. Before we judge and condemn other people for their pride, we need to ask, “How am I blind to my own?”

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Pride indicates a degree of haughtiness, a measure of contempt for others. It is a matter of the heart that is buried under the surface. Why is God so against pride? A proud person is so preoccupied with his self-proclaimed goodness that he never realizes that he has any sin from which he needs to be saved or corrected. He believes that he is above it all.

Question: What keeps us from being close to God? How does God break down those barriers? What must we do to draw close to God?

James 4:6 (New Living Translation)

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.



2. Proverbs 16:18 is a warning that pride and haughtiness have their consequences. Though in the short run there may be windfall profits, the text goes on to say that destruction and fall are inevitable. This makes sense, especially if you understand pride to a be a type of independence such that it ignores the wisdom of others and the benefit of their experience.

Question: In what ways can pride lead to a downfall?

Proverbs 16:18 (New Living Translation)

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.




3. God loves the humble. In fact, everyone loves the humble person, and others build the humble up. A man with pride is so self-centered that others are not fond of him; and, actually, his arrogance is what brings him low in the sight of others.

Question: What does it mean to be “lowly in spirit”?

Proverbs 29:23 (English Standard Version)

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.




LIVE… What will you do now?

What is your definition of pride? Do you generally think of pride as a bad thing or not so bad? How have the verses you read today changed your view of pride, if at all?



We are all proud in different ways. In what ways are you proud? Mark Driscoll said that “before we judge and condemn other people for their pride, we need to ask, ‘How am I blind to my own?’” Ask that question of yourself today.



Releasing our hold on pride is never easy. What help does God offer us in becoming humble? What reward will we get when we are truly humble, not merely in appearance or words only, but when our hearts and spirits are humbled? (Reread James 4:6.)



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

Take some time to pray today. Humble yourself before God and ask Him to forgive you for being proud. Ask God to help you change your way of thinking and face every situation asking what would bring glory to 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.




September 2014
« Aug    


2014 Memory Verses

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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