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LIO 10/23- What we hate is good for us…

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THURSDAY – What we hate is good for us…
Big Point: Patience is enduring what God allows without complaint.

“He [Jesus] has a right to interrupt your life. He is Lord. When you accepted him as Lord, you gave him the right to help himself to your life anytime He wants.”

-Henry Blackaby

The “Marshmallow Experiment” on YouTube illustrates temptation and the hope of future rewards. In this fun video experiment, an adult seats a young child alone in a room at a desk in front of one marshmallow. The adult tells the child they can choose to eat the marshmallow or wait. And if they wait until the adult returns, they will receive a second marshmallow. The child is told to stay in the chair, not leave the room, and is then left alone. Watching how several children react to the test parallels with how we react when our patience is tested with temptation and how we all have different levels of endurance and perseverance.

Most of the children choose to wait, but those who wait have various ways of coping with the time. Some handle the marshmallow repeatedly or smell it, or even lick it while struggling not to eat it. Others try to ignore it, intentionally looking away or day dreaming but look like they too are struggling.

One of our spiritual challenges is letting God work in us, for as long as it takes. Patience is enduring what God allows. In our nano-second world of instant gratification, waiting patiently is rarely seen, let alone encouraged, nurtured or developed. But God works in us like a cake in an oven, not a cake in a microwave! Ever bake a cake in a microwave? It is going to produce questionable results. Microwave technology was not designed with cake baking in mind. Ovens produce the best cakes. God works like an oven, giving us some heat (temptation) and watching all the ingredients come together over time.

READ and THINK….What does the Bible say?

1. For first century Christians, suffering was the rule rather than the exception. Paul tells us in the future we will become, but until then we must overcome. This means that we will experience difficulties that help us grow.

Question: You probably find your patience tested in some way every day. How does God use patience to develop us?

Romans 5:3-5 New Living Translation (New Living Translation)
3We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance (patience). 4And endurance develops strength of character, and strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.




2. James doesn’t say if you face trials but when you face them. We will have trials!

Question: We can’t really see the depth of our character until we see how it reacts under pressure. Why should we be grateful that God tests our character from time to time?

James 1:2-4 (New Living Translation)
2Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.




LIVE  … What will you do now?

When your life is full of difficulties and persecutions, be glad. A reward awaits you. You are to be perfect, mature, and complete, not lacking anything. Ask God and he will answer.



Patience is the willingness to endure what God allows. Have you had an experience where you struggled with patience. Describe that experience.



How did that experience mold you? How was your character refined by the experience? What did you learn from it?



What did you learn about God during that experience that you didn’t know before going through that “darkroom” experience?



Are you able to mentor others who may now be going through a similar life experience? How would you advise them? What verses would you use with them?



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

Here’s a prayer that you can use at the end of today’s study: Dear Lord, thank you for my trials and tribulations and for helping me learn to rejoice in them. For I know that my patience and perseverance will strengthen me and mold me into the person you planned me to be. 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 10/22- God’s Voice Will Guide You Through the “Darkroom.”

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

When you come to the edge of all the light you have known and are about to step out into darkness, faith is knowing one of two things will happen. There will be something to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.


WEDNESDAY: God’s Voice Will Guide You Through the “Darkroom.”
Big Point: The key to surviving the darkness is listening for God’s voice.

For most, it is not hard to imagine going to bed at night in good physical health with all five senses in tact. Most of us do this daily without even thinking about it. You wake up the next morning and begin your routine. Imagine what it would be like to wake up when the alarm sounds but upon opening your eyes it is black. No amount of rubbing or blinking your eyes helps. Everything can be heard but nothing can be seen. Panic would most likely set in and you would fumble around in what once were familiar and safe surroundings but now feel like a deep cavernous cave of fear and dismay. You would call out for a spouse, a family member, reach for a phone to call someone, anyone and although very frightened your fear would subside slightly when you hear the voice of someone tell you, “It is going to be okay.”

For many Christians this scenario is similar to how we live our spiritual lives. We go about our daily routines with our senses or lives in tact.  We believe we have a firm foundation in Christ because we go to church on Sunday’s and own a Bible. Of course, there are hiccups along our way but they quickly fade with the monotony of routine. Until that day comes when tragedy strikes. An occurrence that throws our entire lives into a tailspin and cripples our cores worse than the most violent of earthquakes. A day where the darkest room of our lives is entered and we can see nothing of the future, but only hear our world crashing down. It is in these moments that we need to allow God’s voice to guide us.

 READ and THINK…What does the Bible say?

In this life, we are faced with darkness and evil. Many paths are presented before us to walk down and many are meant to entangle us in roots of false values and philosophies. God wants us to walk toward Him each day and He knows we need His light to guide us. Studying scripture will greatly help us to see clear and stay on the right path.

Question:  What does this verse say will illuminate our paths?

Psalm 119:105 (New Living Translation)
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.




Sometimes we think that struggles caused by our own sin and bad choices are not a concern to God. When we carry these worries, stresses and daily struggles alone it shows that we have not fully trusted God with our lives.

Question: According to this verse, why do we need to give all our worries and cares to God?

1 Peter 5:7 (New Living Translation)
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.




LIVE…What will you do now?

1 Peter 5:7 tells us to give our worries to God because He cares for us. When crisis emerges, what thoughts or emotions accompany your first instinct when you enter into the “darkrooms” of your life?



If God’s word is the tool to guide us, then how are you doing with that? What can you do this week to be more disciplined and purposeful about reading the Bible?



What are some verses that you need to write down or memorize to help you turn toward God’s voice while you’re making your way through your “darkroom” experience?



We’re not alone because God is with us during times of crisis, but we need others, too. Is there someone in your life that can help you be accountable with staying connected to God during spiritual crisis?



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

Are you communicating with God through prayer? If not, today is a great day to start! Even though He knows what is going on in our lives He still wants to hear from us! Remember, there is no “magic formula” to praying!

For today, thank God for establishing a relationship with us and giving us His word to light our paths. Praise God for His plan and ask Him for strength to become more spiritually disciplined in reading the Bible and praying. Ask Him to help you trust fully in Him and not become discouraged when negative circumstances arise.

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 10/21- “Darkrooms” Create Space for God to Develop Us.

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

In His infinite wisdom, God allows trials in order to develop perseverance in us and to cause us to fix our hopes on the glory that is yet to be revealed…Our faith and perseverance can grow only under the pain of trial.

 –Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness

TUESDAY – “Darkrooms” Create Space for God to Develop Us
Big Point: Darkrooms are where God develops our character and conviction.

Henry Bosch, founder of Our Daily Bread, wrote “In the development of photographs, the film must first be taken into a darkroom. Only after the chemicals have done their work in the dark is it safe to expose the negatives to light and produce the final prints. The light, which would have destroyed the film, now brings out its beauty.”

God takes us into His darkroom to develop godliness in our spiritual life. As we pass through trial, sorrow, frustration, and disappointment, the image of Christ is produced in us. Then we are ready to be displayed in His light.

Author Gary Thomas says that God’s goal is to make us “holy, not happy.” However, when we find ourselves in a darkroom experience, our greatest desire is to get out! Yet, God walks us through the darkroom for His purposes, and it takes time for God’s work in us to fully develop.

We often blame people or circumstances for our despair and frustration. But sometimes it’s the hand of the heavenly Father momentarily shading the light from our pathway. He takes us through such experiences because He wants to provide us with the benefits of darkness.

Are you in God’s darkroom? Then don’t despair. He is developing Christ-like character and conviction within you.

READ and THINK….What does the Bible say?

1. Written by Moses, Genesis tells us of the creation of the world and provides the historical basis for the rest of the Bible.

Question: In whose image were we created? What does it say about our value if we are made in God’s image?

Genesis 1:26 (New Living Translation)
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.




2. Peter, an apostle of Christ, stated his reason for writing this letter was to encourage his readers who were facing persecution for their faith and to stand firm in their faith.

Question: As we develop as Christians, we sometimes want to go back to our old ways. How do these verses encourage us to live?

1 Peter 1:13-16 (New Living Translation)
13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. 14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”




3. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the church’s work of service in the world.

Question: Although we may be in the darkroom, we have not been abandoned in the dark. List the positives of this verse.


2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (New Living Translation)
8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9 We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. 10 Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.




LIVE….What will you do now?

We are made in the image of God. Yet, as a result of sin, we are always fighting the tension between living under the influence of the spirit or living by the influence of our own desires.

As we try to live for God, we will inevitably encounter tremendous difficulties. What spiritual struggle are you facing TODAY?



How could you allow God to use your struggle/experience to develop you to be more Christ-like?



What part(s) of your character could God be developing? (Use the Fruit of the Spirit as a reference).



What are you doing or what can you do to get you through this experience?



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

Thank God for His Son Jesus. Ask Him to develop in you a Christ-like character that only can be developed in the darkroom.

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 10/20 – Series: #Selfie Improve Your Selfie

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

“I don’t take selfies all of the time. I just do them once and awhile, like everyday.”



Do you remember the first time you took a digital photo? You pressed the camera button and instantly, the image appeared! And the best part was that you could keep it OR delete it and take another photo. #amazing! Many of us have lived through old-fashioned film processing. (Did you ever experience the devastation of sending off a roll of 36 exposures and when the pictures were returned two weeks later, you realized that 32 of those photos prominently displayed your thumb and the other four were hazy and out of focus?)

Now, imagine taking a photo and waiting up to eight hours for the image to appear? That’s impossible?! Actually, it is—or it was. Photography was invented in the early 1800’s and early images could take up to eight hours to develop. Lots of chemicals were involved and during that time, images captured on film could only be developed in darkrooms, that were literally, dark. If film was exposed to light before developing in the darkroom, then the image would be ruined.

Believe it or not, darkrooms still exist, even in our digital photography age. These rooms exist to take images captured on film and carefully develop them by a process that includes time and focused attention. Darkrooms are a place of intentional development.

This weekend, Barb talked about how God uses difficult experiences in our lives to develop us, specifically our character. She used a “darkroom” as an analogy for the difficult spiritual development journey that God sometimes takes us through to develop increasing Christ-like character.

What’s a spiritual “darkroom”? It’s any situation that creates a spiritual crisis of faith. In a spiritual darkroom, we often experience fear, confusion, even doubts about God. It’s that feeling like the rug was ripped from under our feet. If things get bad enough, we’ll feel like we’re drowning or suffocating in our situation. Along the way, we’ll call out to God for rescue or relief. Some of us will cry out in faith, while others will cry out in anger—threatening to walk away from God.

It’s okay to struggle in the “darkroom”.  Struggle is okay.

God allows these “darkroom” experiences to develop our character and conviction in a way that we would not just by reading our Bible or attending church on the weekends.

While we’ll never eagerly seek out a darkroom experience, we can learn how to embrace what God wants to do IN us while we’re there. In the darkroom, we can allow God to develop our faith and we can learn how to prioritize God’s voice.

Most of all, we emerge from the darkroom with the light of Christ shining brighter through us than ever before. We’ll shine in a dark world and our story will be told with a sense of power and conviction that our audience will be unable to deny.

Darkrooms are difficult part of our life journey, but the transformation of our character show us just how great God is!


MONDAY – Where is God Trying to Get My Attention?
Big Point: God desires to develop our character and convictions.

“Nothing is more pathetic than having a small character in a big assignment. Many of us don’t want to give attention to our character, we just want the big assignment from God.” 

-Henry Blackaby

The new television show, “Selfie” is an American romantic situation comedy series that follows the life of Eliza Dooley, a woman obsessed with the idea of achieving fame through the use of social media platforms, including Instagram where she posts selfies. She beings to worry that “friending” people online is not a situation for real friendship, and she seeks help from Henry Higgs, a marketing image guru. The character names are a reference to Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins, the main characters of the 1912 George Bernard Shaw play “Pygmalion,” further popularized by the 1956 musical “My Fair Lady.”

Everyone wants to become a better person, however, most of us evaluate our self-image based on people who are doing worse than us. It’s easy to think that we’re better than the guy down the street cheating on his wife. It’s easy to think that we’re better than the woman in our office who steals notepads from the supply room. Yet, as long as we compare ourselves to those folks, it’s easy for us to excuse the places in our lives where we need to challenge ungodly behavior. We have to recognize that God’s standard is the only standard for character. When we evaluate ourselves, we need to evaluate ourselves against His standard.

READ and THINK….What does the Bible say?

1. Not only is the faith itself precious, but Peter’s words indicate that the trial of faith is also valuable. Believers will share in the “praise, glory and honor” of God.

Question: How does fire purify gold? How do trials relate to faith?

1 Peter 1:7 (New Living Translation)

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.




2. Our priority should be to establish good character versus seeking fame or great wealth. We are all equal before God, and all guilty before God, no matter our wealth or status in life.

Question: It is easy to define the value of riches, silver and gold, but what is the value of a good reputation? Why is a good reputation considered more valuable than riches?

Proverbs 22:1 (New Living Translation)

Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. 




3. Christian character is produced by the Holy Spirit, not by the mere moral discipline of trying to live by the law.

Question: How does the Holy Spirit produce “fruit” in our lives?

Galatians 5:22-23 (New Living Translation)

22But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!




LIVE  … What will you do now?

Which character/virtues of the “Fruit of the Spirit” need the most attention in your life? Use POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT as an evaluative scale.

Love: selfless affection for others as               POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
modeled by Christ

Joy: unfailing inner brightness,               POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
regardless of circumstances

Peace: peace with others & peace with God    POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT

Patience: willingness to endure what               POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
God allows without complaint

Kindness: pleasant inward disposition             POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
or attitude towards others

Goodness: pleasant outward disposition         POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
or attitude towards others

Faithfulness: commitment to God in all           POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
situations and at all times

Gentleness: strength with restraint or      POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT

Self-Control: ability to withstand human          POOR, FAIR, GOOD, EXCELLENT
passions or desires that are apart from God

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

Thank God for showing you unconditional Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control. We hope that you desire for these qualities to be evident in your life—but you’ll need God’s Holy Spirit for this to happen. Pick 2-3 areas of the Fruit of the Spirit that you realize need more development, and pray about them.

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 10/20 – Series: #Selfie Improve Your Selfie

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

LIO 10/17 – Seeing Yourself as Christ Sees You

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

FRIDAY – Seeing Yourself as Christ Sees You
Big Point: You are worth more to God than you can even imagine.

Self-deprecation has become somewhat of a trend these days. Some Christians think they are being spiritual by beating themselves up. And although Paul said, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am” (2 Corinthians 11:30), it’s important for Christians to realize that God made them just as He did for a purpose. God does not make mistakes, so no matter what weaknesses you may have, you are not a mistake. You are created in His own image. You are beautiful, unique and God’s holy precious child. He has counted all the hairs on your head. That’s how special YOU are to Him!

If you find yourself feeling worthless, you need to ask yourself, “What determines my self worth? Is it the world? Other people? My parents? Or is it the One True God?” You are not a culmination of your bad choices. You are not a culmination of your material possessions, your profile picture or the image you present to the world. You are a child of God.

God wanted you here for a purpose and Christ died so you could live out that purpose. To think you have no purpose on this earth is to deny the glory of God and the sacrifice of Jesus. It’s time to start seeing yourself as God sees you and start living the life that Christ made possible for you!

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

God’s character goes into the creation of every person. When you feel worthless or even begin to hate yourself, remember that God’s spirit is ready and willing to work within you. You should have as much respect for yourself as your Maker has for you.

Question: How does it make you feel that God carefully knit you together? Do you see yourself as a precious child of God?

How does reading this verse help you to realize your worth? How should this verse change the way you feel about yourself?

Psalm 139:13-15 (New Living Translation)
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.




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

Thank God for making you one of His valuable children. Thank Him for loving you and for creating you in His image. Thank Him for His reminders of your worth. Pray to be able to see and value yourself the way He does, and that others do the same.

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

1. What does it mean to have your identity rooted in Christ? What types of things have you previously looked at to find your identity?

2. Read Isaiah 64:6. What does this passage tell you about your good deeds? Why is performing good deeds an ineffective way to cleanse sins?

3. Kyle used the word “sanctification” this past weekend, meaning to become more like Christ and less like your old, sinful self. As it relates to becoming more Christ-like, what areas in your life currently need the most work?

4. What role does prayer play in overcoming sinfulness? For your answer, look to James 5:16.

October 2014 Memory Verse:

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)

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: Oct. 18—Hebrews 10:19-39

Next Weekend: Next week will continue the series, “Selfie”. Barb Roose will be speaking about “Improving your Selfie”. We hope that you’ll join us at one of our five locations or at the iCampus at CedarCreek.tv

Missional Membership Celebration! On Thursday October 16th at the Perrysburg Campus, all CedarCreek members are invited to a celebration which is sure to make you smile. Nationally-renowned comedian Michael Jr. will be bringing the funny! RSVP for the Membership Celebration at CedarCreek.tv/rsvp

TONIGHT! Celebrate Recovery: Worried about making bad choices tonight? Find support and encouragement at Celebrate Recovery tonight at 7pm at all campuses. (And you won’t have regrets tomorrow morning!) 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


NIV Application Study Bible

The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel

This week’s Living It Out written by:

Alison Frye
Kaila Mugford
Martha Preckler
Luke Shortridge
JoAnna Studer


LIO 10/16 – The Freedom of Integrity

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

THURSDAY– The Freedom of Integrity
Big Point:  A secret life weighs heavy on one’s soul.

Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed.

—David Jeremiah

Imagine if you had no deep, dark secrets. What if everything you said was righteous and pure? How would you feel if all of your relationships were completely free of strife? Sound like a pipe dream? Maybe. But still worth pursuing!

The Apostle Paul talked about living this type of life when he wrote the book of Galatians. In what has come to be known as the Fruit of the Spirit, Paul talked about the type of life that is good and pure and pleasing to all. It is a life dominated by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 says:

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

This is what a life of integrity looks like! It’s a life without double talk or regrets. It is a life without apologies or arguments. No more blaming. No more complaining.

Here’s a question: Who are you when no one is watching?

The answer to that question, largely, speaks to your integrity. Are you the same person, regardless of who is with you? Is your private life and your public life one in the same? If not, that simply means you have some work to do. You need to circle back to God’s laws and embrace His way of living.

Many people believe that God’s laws exist to limit their own freedom. This could not be further from the truth! God’s laws are in place so that His people don’t have to live a duplicitous, guilt-ridden, double-sided life! He wants you to feel peace within yourself. He wants your every thought, belief and action to be completely pure.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. James, the half-brother of Jesus, did not believe in Christ’s divinity during his ministry, but became a believer and leader of the early church after Jesus’ resurrection. During this time period, the church was under immense persecution and James was writing, among other things, to show the importance of community for those within the church.

Question: God has given you two main weapons to fight hypocrisy. What are they?

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




2. The writer of 1 John was John the apostle. He also wrote the gospel of John and was a first hand witness to the ministry, teaching and miracles of Jesus. The Christians that he was writing to were under attack by false teachers.

Question: When Christians sin, what does it say about their allegiance to God?

1 John 3:7-8 (New Living Translation)
7 Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. 8 But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil.




3. Luke 16:10 comes from Jesus’ parable (story) of the shrewd manager, one of Jesus’ many teaching stories. The manager realizes he’s about to be fired so he cuts deals with his master’s debtors so that they will treat him favorably after he’s out of a job. Even though he acted deceptively, the master applauds his shrewdness because he proved himself to be wise with details.

Question: How does this verse apply to the matter of holiness and living righteously?

Luke 16:10 (English Standard Version)
One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.




LIVE… What will you do now?

What small sins are you currently justifying? Do you have anything in your life that you know is less than pleasing to God? What is God calling you to do about it?



In your opinion, what makes a person someone of integrity? Would you use the word integrity to describe yourself? Why or why not?



What troubles you the most about your own struggle to act in a way that is consistent with your beliefs?



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

Thank God for His laws and principles. Ask Him to give you the wisdom and strength to follow them completely. Ask God to bless you with an undivided life, one that honors Him in every social situation.

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 10/15 – Allowing God to Release You From Your Past

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

WEDNESDAY – Allowing God to Release You From Your Past
Big Point: Becoming the person God wants you to be means moving past your sinful past.

Nobody can produce new evidence of your depravity that will make God change His mind. For God justified you with (so to speak) His eyes open. He knew the worst about you at the time when He accepted you for Jesus’ sake; and the verdict which He passed then was, and is, final.

—J.I. Packer

As mentioned on Monday and Tuesday, the first part of our faith journey is acknowledging our need for Christ. The next key step to becoming more Christ-like is stepping out from under the weight of the guilt of sin. Many Christians struggle to see themselves the way God sees us, as His precious and sanctified children. After our initial beginning of a relationship with Jesus, we have been forgiven and made right with God. That does not mean that we will never slip up and have a moment of weakness, but we are striving for perfection. A stumbling block for many of us is to see ourselves as Christ sees us.

In his book, Christian Atheist, Pastor Craig Groeschel says, “As a pastor, I’ve discovered that many people are dying slowly in a secret tomb of shame. Some are ashamed of their poor financial condition, plagued with guilt about their irresponsible spending and debt. Others are ashamed about sexual sin from their past. Many carry extreme guilt with them into their future relationships. Countless people are crippled by the shame of secret addictions. Some people even live with false guilt after suffering as victims of sexual abuse. Shame usually follows a pattern— a cycle of self-recrimination and lies— that claims life after life. First, we experience an intensely painful event. Second, we believe the lie that our pain and failure is who we are—not just something we’ve done, or had done to us— and we experience shame. And finally, our feelings of shame trap us into thinking that we can never recover— that, in fact, we don’t even deserve to.”

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In the following verses, the Apostle Paul discusses his struggles to fight for perfection. He is open and honest about his struggles here. He had a history of doing this in his letters, as evidenced by chapters such as Romans 7.

Question:  According to verse 13, what is one stumbling block on the way to possessing the perfection granted by a relationship with Jesus?

Philippians 3:12-14 (New Living Translation)

12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.




2. In the following verse, Paul wants believers to understand the culmination of grace. Their salvation was a free gift from God but they were saved for a purpose.

Question: According to Ephesians 2:10, why were you saved from destruction, otherwise known as “created anew in Christ Jesus”?

Ephesians 2:10 (New Living Translation)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.




3. Our acceptance of Jesus marks a turning point in our life’s journey. Conversion, the moment when someone accepts Jesus as his or her Lord and Savior, marks complete spiritual regeneration. The Holy Spirit enters into that person and indwells in him or her permanently.

Question: According to this verse, what is true once you accept Jesus? What does this imply for your past and future as a Christ-follower?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (New Living Translation)

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!




LIVE… What will you do now?

Do you have anything from your past which you still need to work through? What past sins still seem to haunt you?



In what ways is your past a stumbling block for you? Do you find yourself coming back to the same place of blame or shame? How can you be rid of it for good?



God has created us to do His good works. What does that look like in your life?



When you came to faith in Christ, you became “new”. What elements in your past has God re-written? How have you seen God bless you or others as a result of your decision to become a Christ-follower?



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

Thank God once again for His wonderful forgiveness. Ask God to search your mind and heart for any remaining shame or regret over your past. Rest in His love and ask Him to reveal the good things He planned for you long ago.

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 10/14 – Holiness Is Worth Fighting For

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

TUESDAY – Holiness Is Worth Fighting For
Big Point: God wants you to be holy, not necessarily happy!

If you think you can walk in holiness without keeping up perpetual fellowship with Christ, you have made a great mistake.If you would be holy, you must live close to Jesus.

— Charles Spurgeon

After you realize that you are utterly lost and that life is pointless without the higher purpose of God, everything changes. You have taken the first step of a changed life. It’s a life of  immeasurable worth – a life of meaning and inconceivable joy.  But what happens to all the scars, hurts and bad habits from years of sinful living? What happens to all the dark areas of life that you have kept locked away? Unfortunately, they don’t just vanish. Instead, God wants you to take ownership of all of it. He wants you to throw open the windows and let in the light. This can take years of struggle. Thankfully, God is patient and walks with His children through every challenge they face.

This process can be compared to an iceberg, 90% of which is underwater. As the sun shines on the exposed surface, it begins to melt, moving the rest of the iceberg ever closer to the light at the surface. In the same way, we are usually aware of only a small part of our sinfulness and need, which is all we can deal with at any one time. However, as the light of God’s work in our lives changes us in the areas we know about, we become aware of new areas needing God’s help and the work of becoming more like Christ continues.

To become more like Christ means growing in your desire to devote your life to loving others and living for him. It is being cleansed AND prepared for God’s service. Give the Holy Spirit access to all areas of your life and blessings will come.

So how does this work? Jesus, while preaching the Sermon on the Mount, said “…blessed are the peace makers…” not the peace lovers. You need to go to war with those areas of your life that are in direct opposition to the will of God. Face the sins you are still allowing in your life. Make war with your flesh and watch God change your life.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. The Apostle Paul is writing to believers in Rome and explaining how he has a spiritual nature and a sinful nature, both constantly warring with one another.

Question: What does this reveal about the struggles believers continue to have after becoming saved if they are not relying on Christ in all things?

Romans 7:18-19 (New Living Translation)
18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.




2. Peter pointed out to his original audience that God is merciful, just and loving, in contrast to the gods of Rome and paganism. He used the word “holy” here to say that the Christians needed to be completely free from sin and set apart for God’s service.

Question: What exactly is Peter encouraging his readers, God’s children, to be on guard against?

1 Peter 1:14-16 (New Living Translation)
14 So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then. 15 But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. 16 For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”




3. “We all have areas where temptation is strong and habits are hard to conquer but there is a difference between committing a sin and continuing to sin. A true believer who commits a sin repents, confesses and receives forgiveness. A person who continues to sin, by contrast, is not sorry for what he or she is doing. Thus this person never confesses and never receives forgiveness. Such a person is in opposition to God, no matter what religious claims he or she makes.” –NIV Life Application Study Bible.

Question: What was John saying about those that call themselves Christ-followers but don’t address ongoing patterns of sin?

1 John 3:4-6 (New Living Translation)
4 Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. 5 And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. 6 Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is.




LIVE… What will you do now?

Do you have any ongoing patterns of sin from which you’ve been unwilling or unable to turn away? Describe this struggle. What impact is this struggle having on your relationship with God?



Talk about your feelings after you fail (sin) in an area where God wants you to think or live differently. Why is it impossible to rationalize bad behavior to yourself?



What can you do to finally turn from this sin so you can continue to grow in your faith?



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

Thank God for your faith and His grace. Thank Him for loving you so much He sent Jesus to rescue you from eternal separation from Him and a life without meaning.  Ask Him to help you to stay close to Him every minute of every day. Ask Him to guide you with His wisdom through His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

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 10/13 – Series: #SELFIE Identity Crisis

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

I only got 10 likes in the last 5 minutes. Do you think I should take it down? Let me take another selfie.

–#SELFIE by The Chainsmokers

Selfie [sel-fee] – photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet or webcam, especially for posting on a social networking or photo-sharing website. (source: Dictionary.com)

Did you even need that definition? Odds are, you probably already know what a selfie is and have posted them all over social media. This word is so familiar and entrenched in our day to day life that we have trouble remembering what life was like before social media. Yes, that was all the way back to just 10 years ago! Think about what a selfie really is: a picture, perfectly crafted to present the very best image of ourselves. We control the lighting and our expression. We can delete the image if the smile is wrong, hold the camera a little higher to make our eyes appear larger or add a filter to cover our imperfections. These pictures are way more than a self-portrait. They are a declaration of how we want others to see us and the ultimate publicity campaign for ourselves. When posted on social media, selfies translate into “likes” and “comments” and provide instant confirmation that we are accepted.

And if you’re not buying the story that selfies are a crafted image of yourself, when was the last time you posted a picture of yourself after too little sleep, with eyes crossed or on the day you forgot to rinse the conditioner out of your hair? On the contrary, we post our “seatbelt selfies” from the front seat of the car right when we leave our house because it’s the best we’re going to look all day long.

Truth is, we take more selfies today than any other time in history. We are more in tune with our public image and presentation of that image than ever before. We’ve hired ourselves as chief publicity officer for our Facebook pages, Twitter handles, E-Harmony profiles and blogging platforms. We know that a happy, smiling selfie is the key to the illusion of a perfect life, but who are we really? Does a great public image with selfies and social media give us any more clarity on who we really are?

Good news. God makes the journey to discover your identity pretty simple for those who believe in Him. Scripture says that we were created in God’s own image. Our authentic self should be rooted in Christ and our actions should line up with God’s law. But, as sinful, imperfect beings we have a disconnect. Even after coming to faith in Christ, our lives reflect Titus 1:16, “Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good.”

Pastor Craig Groeschel even goes so far to call himself a “Christian Atheist”. It’s what happens when you SAY you believe in God but act like He doesn’t exist. When actions and beliefs don’t line up, you have an identity crisis that no selfie can mask. You’re stuck and missing out on all the best that God has promised you.
Our identity is more than just a perfectly crafted picture of our outward selves. Your identity should be solely based on the fact that you are a child of God, created in His own image, and that He has claimed you for His own for all eternity!


MONDAY – Your Sin Problem Is  Even Worse than You Think
Big Point: Sin is always present, regardless of its acknowledgement.

A thin veneer of religion cannot cover the darkness of our hearts. The sins that can destroy you seem rather harmless.

—Timothy Keller

Have you ever done something you know you shouldn’t have? Have you NOT done something when you know you should have? Of course, everyone has those moments. It’s called sin. Sin is a problem for everyone because it separates you from God. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that the magnitude of our sin is worse than we think.

Sin does not come from an outside source, it comes from within. That is a hard pill to swallow, but it’s true. Unfortunately, many people believe they have a ticket to heaven because they’re good people and do good works. These people operate under two false assumptions: 1) their sins are not that bad, and 2) their sin does not separate them from a holy God.

The truth is, you carry your sin around with you all the time. It slowly weakens the person you ought to be, and creates a presence that makes it harder to do the right thing. Even Paul, the author of the majority of the New Testament, said, “I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” (Romans 7:21)

Paul wanted to do right according to God’s law, but the sin within him resisted. Likewise, God’s law has been given for everyone to follow, but human nature is defiant. When you’re told specific moral code or rules to follow, you immediately think, “Nobody tells me what to do!” or, “Only I know what’s best for me!” Nothing could be further from the truth. God knows what’s going on inside of you. He knows what’s best for you because He made you. Sin is sin, and no amount of good deeds will ever make up for it.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In his time, Jeremiah was a man who stood alone. He declared God’s law, but those around him continued to sin. These people had the law, the prophets of God and a history filled with God’s miracles, yet they cherished sin.

Question: How does Jeremiah 17:9 contradict those who say, “I need to follow my heart”?

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




2. Sin makes us unclean so that we cannot approach God any more than a beggar could dine at a king’s table. It doesn’t mean God will reject us or that He despises our efforts to please Him; it means that if we demand acceptance on the basis of our “good” conduct, God will point out that our righteousness is nothing compared to His infinite righteousness.

Question: Why are the righteous deeds of people like filthy rags? What does this passage say about what our sins do to us?

Isaiah 64:6 (New Living Translation)
We are all infected and impure with sin.
    When we display our righteous deeds,
    they are nothing but filthy rags.
Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall,
    and our sins sweep us away like the wind.




3. Sin is never harmless. In this verse, God speaks directly to Cain right before he murders Abel. Cain’s jealousy was like a crouching animal and hadn’t yet caused harm. But when it strikes, it’s deadly. Sin is deadly to everyone who chooses to live in it.

Question: According to Genesis 4:7, what is sin trying to do to you? What must one do to counter this?

Genesis 4:7 (New Living Translation)
You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.




LIVE… What will you do now?

Have you ever compared your sins with another person’s and thought, “Well, I’m not as bad as they are”? Why did it bring you comfort when you know that all sin separates you from God? How can you work to remember that the next time you’re faced with the choice to sin or not?



Do you ever resist God’s law because you don’t want to be told what to do? Why do you think God created rules for you to follow? How would reading the Bible help maintain an awareness of sin’s presence and the need to follow His law?



Describe the last time you were tempted to sin and resisted. What allowed you to follow God’s law in that moment of temptation?



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

Take a moment and thank God for His laws for you to follow. Ask Him to make you aware of the sins that you might think are harmless, so that they don’t turn into something more. Pray for the will to follow God, even when your heart rebels.

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.

December 2014
« Nov    


2014 Memory Verses

December, 2014
“The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.’”
Luke 1:35 (NLT)

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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