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LIO 9/4 – Happy are the Peacemakers

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THURSDAY – Happy are the Peacemakers
Big Point: Peace is much more than a ceasefire.

A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.

—D.L. Moody

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Jesus is not referring to peacekeepers, but to peacemakers. What’s the difference?

Peacekeepers are compromisers. They avoid confrontation at all costs. They are experts at changing the subject, preventing arguments and misdirecting the conversation. The peace achieved by a peacekeeper is a pretend peace; it is a momentary peace. This peace is outward, external and incapable of changing anyone’s heart or mind.

A peacemaker actively overcomes evil with good. A peacemaker finds great satisfaction in removing hostilities and affecting reconciliation between enemies. Peacemakers will say, “There is a problem here and we need to solve it now!” Peacemakers see a problem and immediately go to work to correct, reconcile and restore. To be a peacemaker, you have to understand the real definition of peace.

Peace is an occurrence of harmony characterized by the lack of conflicting behaviors and the freedom from fear of violence. Some people think that a truce is a peace treaty. Baptist Pastor John MacArthur said, “A truce just says you don’t shoot for awhile. Peace comes when the truth is known, the issue is settled, and the parties embrace each other.”

True peace is an absence of conflict in which opposite sides are brought together in righteousness, ending in reconciliation. True peacemakers are disciples who strive to prevent contention and strife. They use their influence to reconcile opposing party strife among individuals, families, churches and the community. They change hostile attitudes to attitudes that seek the best interests of everyone.

The reason that we do not have peace is sin. Our problem is human greed, lust and selfishness, not politics, economy or society. The source of the problem is within man. If you haven’t already, you need to make peace with God. In the words of country songwriter Eric Church, “On the day I die I know where I’m going to go. Me and Jesus we got that worked out. I’ll wait at the gates till his face I see, and stand in a long line of sinners like me. I come from a long line of sinners like me.” Make peace with God and watch it permeate every aspect of your life!

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Matthew 5 contains the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus’ sermon proclaimed his attitude toward the law, the Beatitudes. Position, authority and money are not important in his kingdom—what matters is faithful obedience of the heart.

Question: Each Beatitude tells us how to be blessed. Blessed means more than happiness. It means to find hope and joy, the deepest form of happiness. How can being a peacemaker help us to be blessed and find hope and joy?

Matthew 5:9 (New International Version)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.




2. Sin always blocks our vision of God; so, if we want to see God, we must renounce sin and obey Him. Holiness is coupled with living in peace. A right relationship with God leads to right relationships with fellow believers.

Question: Although we will not always feel loving toward others, how can we pursue peace with other believers?

Hebrews 12:14 (New Living Translation)
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.




3. Humans are separated from God by sin, and only Jesus is our mediator who can stand between us and God and bring us together again. Jesus’ sacrifice brought new life to all people.

Question: According to 1 Timothy 2:5, what is the dual role that Jesus plays in the reconciliation process between God and people?

1 Timothy 2:5 (New Living Translation)
For, there is one God and one Mediator between God and mankind— the man Christ Jesus.




LIVE… What will you do now?

CedarCreek’s mission statement is “To help spiritually restless and unchurched people love Jesus, serve others, and tell the world about Christ”. Our mission as a church to reach more people with the Gospel does not end until Jesus returns. As an individual, how can you live out this mission in your life?




If you haven’t already, you need to make peace with God. You need to confess your sin before Him and ask for forgiveness. How can a change in your heart help you to make peace with God?




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

Try this prayer today: “Dear Lord, thank You for my many blessings; help me to find hope and joy in all that I do. And whatever I do, help me to be a peacemaking disciple for You. Show me the areas where I can intercede and bring others Your love for the sake of peace. 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.

LIO 9/3 – Blessed are the Pure of Heart

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WEDNESDAY – Blessed are the Pure of Heart
Big Point: As Christ-followers, our families must see joy in our lives, joy that comes from a relationship with Christ.

If I am not allowed to laugh in heaven, I don’t want to go there.

- Martin Luther

We all like to laugh—we share videos online of clumsy animals, skate boarding accidents and comedians. But, does laughter really affect our lives? Our relationships? Our children? Yes! In the book, It Starts at Home: A Practical Guide to Nurturing Lifelong Faith, Kurt Bruner and Steve Stroope share some insights into the effects of having laughter in the home.

“Have you ever known one of those couples who have been blessed with terrific kids? You know the ones. They are the family you watch from afar, wondering how in the world they got so lucky, or did so well. It is almost as if they have discovered a secret formula for raising great kids. What is this “secret formula” for successfully passing on our values to the next generation? What is the common thread between these and other homes that seem to have beaten the odds in parenting? As we’ve watched over the years, we have noticed the same important ingredient. The specific tone and makeup of each family varies, but the “secret formula” is the same. Every one of these couples discovered and mastered the art of enjoying their children and allowing their children to enjoy them. Put simply, they learned to create an environment where they had fun together! Observing such families has convinced us that laughter and fun are incredibly powerful tools in the process of passing on values.

While much of this book is dedicated to principles and ideas for teaching our kids, it all assumes a context of enjoying our kids. That, we believe, is one of the most important ingredients for increasing the parenting odds. When I spend time wrestling with our boys in the basement, I have done more to make our values stick than when I read them a Bible passage. Both are important, but the former makes the latter more meaningful. When my wife, Olivia, plays a round of Go Fish with eight-year-old Nicole, our daughter learns to enjoy Mom as a person, not merely to obey her as a parent. Again, both are important, but the former makes the latter easier to swallow.”

Of course, just having fun as a family doesn’t mean that your family is immune from problems, sin and tragedy. But, there is something here. As Christ-followers, our families must see the joy in our lives! Our hearts must be joyous and burden free! Our kids and others should see the joy in our lives because of Jesus!

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In biblical times, the “heart” was considered the center of one’s being, including his or her mind, will and emotions.

Question: Matthew 5:8 says we are blessed if our hearts—mind, will and emotions—are pure. Our reward is to “see God”. What does it mean to “see God”? What potential impact could that have in your life?

Matthew 5:8 (New Living Translation)
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.




2. David is asking God to not only save him from the enemy outside but also his frailty within. This speaks to David’s true devotion to God.

Question: How does living according to God’s truth produce a more fulfilling life?

Psalm 86:11 (New Living Translation)
Teach my your ways, O LORD,
that I may live according to your truth!
Grant me purity of heart,
so that I may honor you.




3. In the following passage, the imagery suggests an athletic contest in a great amphitheater. The witnesses are the heroes of the past who have just been mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11.

Question: What is the significance of the huge crowd of witnesses in Hebrews 12:1?

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.




LIVE… What will you do now?

Hebrews 12:1 is a verse that runners easily relate to, but not all of us enjoy running or consider running a priority in our lives. What does this type of endurance look like to you personally? What does it look like in your relationship with God? With your family? With your friends?



Do you laugh together as a family or with friends? Do you take time, electronic free, to enjoy each other? What gets in the way of fellowship? Think of at least one activity you can do this week to laugh with family and close friends.



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

Make Psalm 86:11 your prayer for today—pray and ask God to help you follow His Word and be pure of heart. Ask God to help you clear away the obstacles keeping you from laughing and from spending time with your family and close friends.

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 9/2 – God Comforts Those Who Mourn

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TUESDAY – God Comforts Those Who Mourn
Big Point: For those within the church, death is not the end but the beginning.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.

–C.S. Lewis

What do you think of when you hear the word “death”? For most people, death is not something they really want to think about. It is an ending. It is the final chapter. Death is the end of the line. It’s the journey to the great unknown.
For the Christian however, death is but a temporary interruption. The Apostle Paul said that Christians are not to mourn as the rest of the world does. Christ-followers approach death differently than the rest of the world because Jesus approached it differently. Jesus wasn’t scared to die. In fact, he chose to go to the cross because he knew the grave could not hold him.

Have you ever heard of D.L. Moody? He was one of the most famous evangelists of the 19th century. He started several schools and the Moody Bible Institute still carries his name and mission today.

He continued preaching and working right up to the end, although he was getting weaker between each event. When he preached, you couldn’t tell he was dying, he was so vibrant and full of life. Shortly before death, he left this quote: “Someday you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever.” (Bonnie H. Harvey, D.L. Moody; The American Evangelist)

It is perfectly acceptable for Christians to feel grief and sadness at the loss of life. But, they must never let grief reach the roots of their soul, lest they become bitter. Put your hope and faith in Christ so his joy will grow in you eternally!
READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Though Jesus was God, he experienced the human emotion of mourning. When his friend Lazarus died, the Bible records the fact that Jesus wept. Jesus understands our sorrows and earthly struggles.

Question: What does the word “comforted” mean in this passage and who will be doing the comforting?

Matthew 5:4 (New Living Translation)
God blesses those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.




2. The following passage is a snapshot from heaven. After Jesus returns to the earth to make all things new, the believers are taken to a New Jerusalem where all wrongs are made right.

Question: What difficulties will no longer exist once the believers are reunited with Jesus in heaven?

Revelation 21:4 (English Standard Version)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.




3. Paul wanted to give the Thessalonians, who were under heavy persecution, hope in Christ. He encouraged them by reminding them that Jesus was indeed coming back to both resurrect the dead and to take the believers back with him to heaven.

Question: What is the destiny of those who have previously died as believers in Jesus Christ?

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 (New Living Translation)
13 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.




LIVE… What will you do now?

When was the last time you experienced grief? How did God comfort you during your loss?



Why must Christians not grieve like the rest of the world does? What about Jesus gives you confidence when thinking about death and the afterlife?



How have your thoughts about death changed since coming to faith in Jesus? Do you worry about death? Why or why not?



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

Ask God to set your mind on eternity. Praise Him for conquering death and resurrecting His son, Jesus Christ, so that all who believe could be forgiven of their sins. Pray that God gives you an eternal perspective in regards to life and death.

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 9/1 – Series: Live.Love.Laugh.Learn. Laugh

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Laughter is the most beautiful and beneficial therapy God ever granted humanity.

—Chuck Swindoll

A little old woman stands on a busy street corner. Dressed in her simple clothing, she gazes at cars zipping by, fast food restaurants on every corner and billboards telling her that she doesn’t have enough. You’re taken with her. You wish you could have just one glimpse inside her thoughts because she seems to be in a far off place. She is somewhere slower, quieter and less cluttered. She smiles longingly and slowly journeys home. Maybe she is overwhelmed, thinking of the fast paced world. Or maybe it excites her, thinking of all the possibilities. One thing is for sure, our society today is worlds away from the time she once knew.

Gregg Easterbrook, author of The Progress Paradox, writes about how different the 21st century is compared to that of the 1800’s. In 1844, The Great Western Railways pulled out of London to whisk riders at a whopping 45 miles per hour. Commentators expressed horror at the unnatural swiftness of the train and physicians were fearful passengers would suffocate because of the speed. Easterbrook goes on to say how the average lifespan has nearly doubled, from 41 years of age to 77, thanks to eradicating diseases such as polio, smallpox and rickets. There are remarkable differences in the physical appearance of the poor. In the 1800’s, poor men and women were thin as rails, whereas today, they make up a large portion of our obese community. Easterbrook says this is due to the over abundance of food available. Even with all these advances and luxuries, the number of people who say they are “happy” has not risen since the 1950’s.

Easterbrook has many theories as to why this has occurred. One is that people are overwhelmed by all of the choices available. Another is that people have what is called “abundance denial”, where they construct elaborate mental rationales for considering themselves deprived.

As Christians, we can point this unhappiness to letting something else or someone else take the place of Jesus in our lives. Being a Christian does not ensure that we will escape sadness, of course; however, our sad times could be compared to running out of gas on the way to pick up a million dollar inheritance. We see it as a minor inconvenience with the knowledge of a huge payoff around the corner.

This week we will be learning about the Beatitudes, which were extremely counter-cultural to the wisdom of their day. The Israelites wanted a Messiah who would be a military leader. Jesus knew that defeating the Romans would not fill up the Jews, nor would it really save them. Jesus taught things that seemed backwards, yet lead to surefire happiness.

Jesus tells us that if we want to be happy or blessed, then we have to give something up. We will explore that this week. Who is it that is truly happy or blessed? What does their life look like? Happiness, in large part, is a choice. It is not dependent on outside circumstances, but should be placed squarely on the promises of Jesus. If God is for you, who can be against you?


MONDAY – Happiness has Nothing to do with Stuff
Big Point: God uses your weakness to show His strengths.

Contentment is one of the most distinguishing traits of the godly person, because a godly person has his heart focused on God rather than on possessions or position or power.

—Jerry Bridges

The record for the largest cash payout in world history occurred on March 30, 2012, when three people from Kansas, Illinois and Maryland split a massive lottery jackpot. Have you ever pondered what you would do if you won the lottery? The typical answer is to pay off some outstanding debt or buy a larger house, but have you ever wondered if being able to buy everything you’ve always wanted would bring you happiness?

According to NBC News, in an article entitled “$550 million will buy you a lot of….misery”, research studies show again and again that lottery winners report either being no more happy than before or significantly less happy! (Especially one winner who found himself becoming the frequent target of burglars.)

Even when you take mass sums of wealth off the table, no one seems to be satisfied. Pastor Andy Stanley wrote about a Gallup survey on how people define “rich” in his book How to Be Rich: “For each and every person [at all income levels], “rich” was roughly double the amount possessed by the person defining it…Most people think that anyone who has at least twice the wealth that they have is rich. Which means, of course, that nobody’s rich, but everybody knows someone who is.”

Jesus spoke about money almost more than any other topic. He knew that we have an insatiable desire for more, and that it is one of our biggest sources of unhappiness and anxiety. Matthew 6:19 says, “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.” In the end, what does this pursuit of stuff get us according to Jesus? Not much.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. Matthew 5:3 is part of Jesus’ most famous message, the Sermon on the Mount. The first of eight Beatitudes, this verse describes the type of person who will enter God’s Kingdom.

Question: What must the poor do to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven?

Matthew 5:3 (New Living Translation)
God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.




2. Jesus talks about divided loyalties in Matthew 6:24. This verse appears in a section of Scripture in which Jesus is encouraging his followers to “store up treasures in heaven.”

Question: Why can’t someone serve two masters? What are the two masters to which Jesus is referring?

Matthew 6:24 (New Living Translation)
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.




3. The Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys were filled with many ups and downs. He taught in some of the greatest cities of the day and also found himself shipwrecked and in prison. In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul discusses what he has learned on his journey.

Question: What is the secret to being content in “any and every situation”?

Philippians 4:12-13 (New International Version)
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.




LIVE… What will you do now?

What do you think it means for someone to be “rich”? How would you define it? Does this definition match up with your current life situation? Think about the difference between the two. How can you find happiness where you currently are?



If money and possessions don’t buy happiness, what does? Think about what aspects of your life make you “rich” in other ways. What important, long lasting things can you put your time and energy into, instead of trying to “keep up with the Joneses”?



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

Thank God for everything that you have. If there are things on your heart that you desire (material or otherwise), talk to Him about them. If something is important to you, it is important to Him. Ask God to show you where your desires might be self-centered and moving you away from His plans. Finally, ask Him to help you align your goals with His and to be content with the blessings He has already given you.

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 9/1- Series: Live.Love.Laugh.Learn: LAUGH

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

LIO 8/29 – God’s Love Brought to Full Expression

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FRIDAY – God’s Love Brought to Full Expression
Big Point: We only truly love when we love like God.

Love. We’ve spent a whole week studying it. We have learned that love is not necessarily about warm, fuzzy feelings or sensations of passion for that one special someone that can make our knees tremble at the very thought or sight of them. Oh sure, those reactions sometimes accompany love. And to be sure, those are wonderful feelings that bring a whole lot of joy. But other times, love is tough. Many times. Perhaps most times.

We are taught that we are to love people whom we may not consider lovable by the world’s standards: irritating co-workers, annoying family members, even enemies. And what does it mean to love those kinds of people? In very simple terms, loving someone, anyone, means we do nice things for them that are in their best interest whether we feel like it or not. We put others’ needs before our own. And why would we do that? Because God loved us first…when we were annoying and irritating and even His enemy. There are a whole lot of people out there who need our love whether we feel like loving them or not. And Jesus set the bar for us…Love God and Love Others.

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

John, in the verses just prior to the ones below, explains that God showed us how much He loved us by sending His own son (His one and only child) as a sacrifice to die a tortuous death so we wouldn’t have to.

Questions: What is the simple reason John tells us we should love others? Why does John mention that no one has ever seen God? What role do we play in this world by loving other people?

In what ways have you seen God in the way that others love? In what ways does your love show others God’s love and character?

1 John 4:11-12 (New Living Translation)
11 Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. 12 No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.



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

Thank God for loving you by sending His own son to die so you could be with Him one day. Thank Him for loving you even though many times you are not the most lovable person. Thank Him for loving you even though you are imperfect. Then ask God to help you return the favor to another person and love them as He would love them.

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

1. Read 1 Timothy 1:5.  Describe the kind of love that Jesus wants us to be filled with. What does that really look like?

2. What expectations in your relationships are going unmet? Have they been communicated? Are they realistic?

3. Is there an issue in your life you are afraid people might find out about? How can you resolve this?

4. Are there areas in your future you are concerned God cannot control? Read Philippians 4:6-8. How can you give those concerns to Him?

August Memory Verse:

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

John 21:25 (New 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: August 30th, Philippians 1:1-30
  • Next Weekend: Next week we will continue with the series, “Live. Love. Laugh. Learn.” Jason Tucker will be speaking about “Laugh”. Service times are Saturday, August 30th—5:15 pm, 7:00 pm and Sunday, August 31th—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

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



Soul Detox by Craig Groeschel

This week’s Living It Out written by:

Ashlee Grosjean
Becky Miller
Luke Shortridge
Kelda Strasbourg
David Vernier
Jackie Williams

LIO 8/28 – Uncontrolled Paranoia Kills Love and Relationships

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

THURSDAY – Uncontrolled Paranoia Kills Love and Relationships
Big Point: Sincere faith builds up love. The opposite of this is uncontrolled paranoia.

Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.

–Corrie Ten Boom

Faith is trusting that God will do what He says He will do. In any relationship that is built on trust, faith plays a key role in developing intimacy. You must have faith that the other person will make good on the trust you’ve extended to him or her. When you don’t have faith, it produces uncontrolled paranoia. Lack of faith and paranoia will destroy a relationship.

When you don’t have faith, you tend to focus on the “what ifs”. What if they cheat? What if they disappoint me? What if they leave? Often it’s something out of their control—What if they get sick and die? When you mentally go through all the “what ifs”, you’re not addressing what is really going on because your mind is so consumed with worry. These questions cannot be answered 100% in the present. It takes faith, along with commitment to the relationship. Otherwise, we live in fear and constant anxiety.

When you place your faith and trust in Jesus, in the knowledge that God will never leave you or forsake you, you can trust and believe that no matter what happens in any relationship, God is with you. By resting in His sufficiency, you can have confidence that everything will be alright. You will never be alone. You will never be forgotten. You will always be loved. You will see that God’s plan is good, no matter the circumstances.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In this verse, the Apostle Paul is talking about hearing and believing the Good News. Back then, people would have heard the gospel preached. Now, we can access it ourselves in our Bibles. Our faith comes from digging into the Word and listening to God’s promises.

Question: What do we need to hear and understand?

Romans 10:17 (New Living Translation)
So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.





2. Throughout Hebrews, the author makes an argument for faith in the existence and goodness of God. Faith is an absolute necessity, whether to perceive the things for which we should hope, to understand that God is the Creator of all, or to offer acceptable worship.

Question: What is our reward for having faith in God?

Hebrews 11:6 (New Living Translation)
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.





3. This verse is from Jesus’ most famous “Sermon on the Mount” in which He explains the vast differences between worldly thinking and being kingdom-minded. He tells us here, and not for the last time, that we should not worry about anything because our Father will provide.

Question: How does worry affect our lives and health?

Matthew 6:26-27 (New Living Translation)
26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?




LIVE… What will you do now?

How often do you read God’s promises for you, which are laid out in His Word? How do you think reading these regularly would increase your faith and trust?




Think about a time when you worried about an aspect of a relationship. Did worry help the relationship or hurt it? How could you have reacted differently?




We are often wonderstruck by God’s creations, such as stars, plants and birds. Do you ever think of yourself in the same light as God’s other creations? How could realizing you are more important to God than any other of His creations allay your fears?




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

Thank God for His promises and love. Praise Him for making you more precious than the most delicate orchid or the grandest swan. Ask Him to guide you into His Word, full of His promises. Thank Him for His forgiveness when you worry and do not trust. Ask Him to strengthen your relationships through faith in Him.

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

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

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

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

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

Conscience is the voice of God in the soul.

-James H. Aughey

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

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

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

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

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

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

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

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

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




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

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

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




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

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

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




LIVE…What will you do now?

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




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




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

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

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

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


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

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

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

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

–Louie Giglio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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




LIVE… What will you do now?

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




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




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




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

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

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

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


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

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

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

–Coach Boone,
Remember The Titans

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

    -C.S. Lewis

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

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

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

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

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

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

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

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

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




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

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

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





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

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

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





LIVE… What will you do now?

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




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




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




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

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

Digging Deeper with this week’s teaching pastor:

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


October 2014
« Sep    


2014 Memory Verses

November, 2014
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Past Memory Verses

Click here to download the 2013 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2012 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2011 Memory Verses.

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