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Bible Study

LIO 3/30-SERIES: I Don’t Know What I Believe…Why I Am Here

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

A career makes a living, a calling makes a life!

– Rick Warren

When meeting people for the first time, the first question often asked is, “What do you do for a living?” It’s not likely that someone will ask, “So why do you think you’re here? What’s your calling?” Probably because it would make for a rather socially awkward first question, but also because most people don’t know the answer for themselves.

That simple question about what we do for a living plagues us because it implies something about our significance. In our culture, we are often defined by our work. When we’re not in our dream job or able to throw out a title that sounds like a dream job, it taps into something deeper—our desire and need for significance. We want to know the answers to the questions, Why am I alive? Does my life matter? What is my purpose? These questions point toward a singular question: What is my calling?

The Greek word for ‘call’ is kaleo, which means “God is calling you”. It’s used over a hundred times in the New Testament and is referred to as your assignment, purpose and mission for life. Pastor Rick Warren puts it: “Your calling is not your career. Your calling is far, far, far more significant. Far larger, far more all encompassing, than your career.”

While searching for their life purpose, many people turn to so-called “experts” who tell us, “look from within to find your calling”, “follow your dreams”, “go after your ambitions”, “aim high, set goals and never ever give up”. While these suggestions seem appealing, and even inspiring to some degree, they don’t answer the question, “What is my purpose in life?”

It’s possible to be a raving success in life and you could completely miss out on why God put YOU on earth, His purpose for you. Linger too long without knowing the answers to these questions and you’ll likely move into subtle depressive thoughts, as well as self-destructive and self-defeating activities. That’s definitely not what God planned for you!

When we seek out the True Expert—God—we find answers to our life’s calling. God wants us to discover the calling that He created uniquely for each one of us. Our calling activates once we come to faith in Jesus Christ and as we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives.

Our calling as a church speaks to the calling God puts in each of our hearts. In fact, this calling is captured in the mission statement of CedarCreek Church: to help spiritually restless and unchurched people love God, serve others and tell the world about Christ.

This week, we are going to look at God’s call on your life, why it’s completely your own yet isn’t about you, and how each of our lives are critically important, woven into God’s purpose and story for all humanity.

 

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT GOD’S PURPOSE AND PLAN FOR EACH OF OUR LIVES.

MONDAY — Called for a Purpose
Big Point: If God calls, will you answer?

The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude 

Oswald Chambers

Most of us screen our phone calls. In fact, many of us don’t even answer it if we do know the number! With over 6.6 billion cell phones in the world, that’s a lot of screened communication coming in. What about you? Do you answer it every time? Hope a message is left? Call the number back if there isn’t a voicemail left? Now, imagine if it was God calling your cell phone, it would be a number you knew, would you answer it?

We’ve all been told “it’s your life so have it your way”. We have all sought things to fulfill ourselves, like money, work status, that new pair of shoes, a new car, a new house or a new relationship. Once we exhaust our satisfaction and the newness fades away, we are left feeling unfulfilled and seeking the next big thing. We may try to fill the void again by changing jobs, taking up a new hobby or starting a new relationship. These are things that we do, but they do not define us.

“It’s not about you,” begins Rick Warren’s book “The Purpose Driven Life”. It’s about our relationship with God. He calls us into relationship with Himself and it’s our truest identity, along with all of our Christian family, to be a child of God—a daughter or son of the King.

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. For Christ-followers, the hope that we have for ourselves and the future is based on the complete assurance of victory because God is powerful and will be victorious over evil in the end.

Question: What is given to those who believe?

Ephesians 1:18-19 (New Living Translation)
18I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe in him. This is the same mighty power.

Answer:

 

 

  1. In these verses, Paul gives a brief summary of the gospel: God loves us, called us, and sent Christ to die for us. We can have eternal life through faith in Jesus, because he broke the power of death with his resurrection. We do not deserve to be saved, but God offers us salvation by grace anyway.

Question: What assurance does this verse offer of how and why we are called for His purpose?

2 Timothy 1:9 (New Living Translation)
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
What role does salvation through Jesus Christ play in discovering God’s calling on our life? Why must we come to faith first before we can know our call?

 

Think about 2 Timothy 1:9. How do you feel about God having “a plan” for you? What’s the difference between God’s plan for our lives and how we’d feel if someone else had a plan for our lives?

 

The quote for today is from Oswald Chambers who said, “The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.”

 

Rate your spiritual attitude on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being not ready to listen to God’s purpose for your life to a 10 being fully open for God’s direction.

 

Are you open to hearing God’s call?

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Try this prayer: Dear God, it’s not about me! Give me courage to hear Your voice and answer Your call, knowing that with God all things are possible. 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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

 

LIO for the Week of 3/30-SERIES: I Don’t Know What I Believe…Why I Am Here

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

LIO 3/27— Everyone Will Be Connected

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

FRIDAY— Everyone Will Be Connected
Big Point: You can change eternity for someone with a simple invite.

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, recently wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal stating, “Connecting everyone is one of the fundamental challenges of our generation.” Think of all of the ways we try to connect with the people in our lives. We text, use social media, send emails and talk on the phone (on Mother’s Day at least!) all for the purpose of finding meaningful connections. While it is important to connect with people in this life, there are connections we make that will matter for eternity.  

This is the last week of the Big Invite. Who have you invited? Who did you think about inviting but didn’t? Our invites are potential connections that could be made for eternity. Stepping out in faith could make the difference between someone spending eternity in heaven rejoicing, or eternity in hell experiencing unspeakable and unending misery. How amazing will it be when we get to heaven and see someone there because we had the courage to take that small step of faith and invite them to church? These are the connections that matter. What an awesome privilege God has given us: we can change someone’s eternity for the better.

The power of an invitation is the first step in changing not only a life, but their eternity as well. Those stories cannot be written without people like you extending the invite for connection. Every individual is loved by God and the most powerful way for someone to come to know and understand His great love is to find a place of worship with other Christ-followers. All of that starts with one invite to church.

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

In this next passage, we get a glimpse of what eternity will be like. We will experience God like never before.

 Question: Where will God be throughout eternity? Who will He be with? With whom will you spend eternity?

Revelation 21:3 (New Living Translation)
… Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.

Answer: 

 

   PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
If you have never made the decision to spend eternity with God, you can do so now. He knows your heart and is willing to come into your life and change your afterlife. If you have already made that decision, think about someone in your life who needs Jesus. Pray for opportunities to talk to them about Christ.

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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

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

  1. The topic of this past weekend’s message was “I Don’t Know What I Believe… The Afterlife”. What were you comfortable with? What area(s) made you uncomfortable? Explain.
  2. It’s pretty difficult to wrap our minds around eternity. Why is it important, at the very least, to make an attempt to?
  3. The teachings of Jesus don’t leave room for interpretation on how you spend eternity with God. How can you personally face your own death with confidence?
  4. Lee talked about how the narrow gate leads to life in heaven with Christ. What are the popular images of heaven in our culture today? How does that line up with the heaven Lee described from Scripture this weekend?
  5. Take a moment to calculate the number of days you have lived so far. Now take a guess as to how many more days you expect to live. What is the most eternally profitable way you can spend your remaining days?

March 2015 Memory Verse:

I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.
John 12:46 (New Living Translation)

Weekend Updates!

Next Weekend: Invite someone to join us for “I Don’t Know What I Believe:Why I Am Here”.

Easter Services: “The Power of the Cross”, Easter weekend, Friday April 3-5. Check out CedarCreek.tv for complete list of service times.

Podcasts are Here! You may have heard Lee mention during a weekend message, or saw it mentioned in print, that our own Kyle Gray has started a series of podcasts on Revelations and Reading the Bible in a Year. Consider listening in to Shatterbox Radio at CedarCreek.tv, click on media player; at the iTunes store, search for “shatterbox radio”, or through the CedarCreek Church app.

TONIGHT! Celebrate Recovery: Are you struggling? We can help! There is a Celebrate Recovery meeting at your campus every Friday night at 7pm. Celebrate Recovery is for anyone struggling with anxiety, co-dependency, depression, addiction and more. Visit CedarCreek.tv/celebraterecovery for more information.

Have some feedback? Email questions or comments to MarnaW@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: www.livingitout.tv.

RESOURCES:

CedarCreek Download, Sept 2005

Coldcasechristianity. com

Wall Street Journal.com

 Desiring God.org

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study Team:

Ashlee Grosjean

Julie Mabus

Kaila Muford

Pam Haynam

Jackie Williams

Martha Preckler

Shelley Adams

Mary Jo Sutton

Sherry Rollins

LIO 3/26 – Rewards in Heaven

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

THURSDAY – Rewards in Heaven
Big Point: Salvation is built on Christ alone, but rewards are tied to deeds.

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.

– Saint Augustine

Lee talked this weekend about the five things we experience in heaven: everyone who believes is a winner, gets a makeover, gets a great job, will be happy and will be connected. These are the rewards for how we played the game. Author J. Warner Wallace states in his book, “Cold Case Christianity”: As Christians, we believe that we are saved solely by the grace of God. When we say this, we mean we believe God sets us apart for salvation based not on anything we could do on our own effort, but based on the free gift of salvation offered by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Every faithful follower of Jesus Christ will receive the best gift of all: eternal life. Our works play no role in our salvation. We cannot earn our way into heaven, this is a gift of God, so no man or woman could ever boast they earneda place in heaven with God. The question: are there additional rewards waiting? While we, as Christians, dont believe our works have anything to do with our entry to heaven, we do understand our works have everything to do with our reward once we get there.

Jesus clearly told his followers the Kingdom of Heaven would be a place where individual saved believers would be rewarded according to their deeds. If you do a lot with what God has given you, you will get a greater reward and responsibility in heaven. If you squander what God has given you, dont be surprised to find that your reward is much less. Paul seemed to understand this as well. Paul clearly told the Corinthians that their salvation was built on Christ alone, but in addition to this, each of us, as saved Christians, also build on this foundation of salvation with good works, resulting in our reward in heaven.

 

READ and THINK. What does the Bible say?

  1. Jesus specifically tells us that heaven is a place where rewards will be given to those who believe. In this verse, Jesus is teaching about what our response should be to persecution.

Question: God has rewards waiting for us and much of this Sermon on the Mount from Jesus is an admonition for us not to forsake our heavenly reward by seeking worldly rewards and acknowledgment. Why would persecution be good? What are we told to be?

Matthew 5:12 (New Living Translation)
Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.

Answer:

 

  1. God promises us salvation as a free gift, but He clearly calls us to live a life He can bless, both here on earth and in the life to come.

Question: This verse gives us a sense of the level of responsibility God has in store for Christ-followers in Heaven. What is the great job described here?

 1 Corinthians 6:2 (New Living Translation)
Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?

 Answer:

 

  1. The “Holy City, the new Jerusalem” is described as the place where God will “wipe every tear from their eyes” forevermore. There will be no death, pain, sorrow or crying. What a wonderful truth! No matter what you are going through, it’s not the last word—God has written the final chapter and it is about true fulfillment and eternal joy for those who love Him.

Question: Have you ever wondered what eternity will be like? 

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

Answer:

 

LIVE What will you do now?
Jesus and Paul are simply reflecting the heart of God when they tell us we will be saved by His work and rewarded for our work. What is it that will earn us a reward?

 

What kind of reward might we receive based on our work here on earth? Does it change your perspective on how you choose to spend your time when you look at it like that?

 

PRAY God, what do you want me to know and do?
Try this prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the free gift of salvation and for the promises of treasures in heaven. Help me to live a life that will be blessed and a blessing, both here and in the life to come. 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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 3/25– Narrow Gate

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

WEDNESDAY Narrow Gate
Big Point: Heaven is more wonderful than we could ever imagine!

 

What do you see when you think of heaven? The Bible describes heaven as a place of immaculate beauty, precious jewels and perfection. In American culture, we have access to many things. Many of us are very comfortable with our “stuff”. We can see beautiful landscapes from across the world with just the click of a button. We see celebrities with ten luxurious cars and sometimes a multitude of elaborate houses. Our culture has deteriorated into one that glorifies material excess and power. We, therefore, tend to lose our wonder and excitement for heaven. Shame on us if we are willing to settle for a cheap, materialistic, knock-off version of heaven! God has told us that heaven is more wonderful than we can imagine. So heaven must be indescribably wonderful! More than you can imagine.

There are many misconceptions though. The book “Heaven”, by Randy Alcorn, lists some common ones about heaven, along with what the Bible actually says (see table). Some don’t believe it is a physical place, rather a place where we float around happily, yet aimlessly. This is not what God has in store for us at all! We will have purposeful, productive work to do in heaven. We will have responsibilities, not boredom or inactivity. We will spend time worshipping and continuing to learn more and more about God and who He is. There will be no pain, no suffering, no sadness, no sin. Instead we will have a purpose, we will be joyful, amazed by God, and best of all: we will be in His presence! Sounds amazing, right?

 

3.35

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

1. In the book of Zephaniah, Zephaniah warned the people of Judah that God’s punishment was imminent if they didn’t return to Him. He made it clear that blessings would come, but first, there would be judgment. The following verse describes the blessings for those who obey the Lord.

Question: What does this verse say about God’s love for us?

Zephaniah 3:17 (New Living Translation)
…He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Answer:

 

 

  1. Paul humbly explained that his teachings relied on the Holy Spirit, not lofty words and impressive wisdom. He explained that wisdom from God is different than worldly wisdom.

 

Question: Humans have made innovative inventions, beautiful art and architecture, yet we are unable to even fathom what God has prepared for us. What does the following verse tell us about God’s character? 

1 Corinthians 2:9 (New Living Translation)
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Answer:

 

 

  1. In the following verse, Paul assures us that in heaven we will be given a new body with new life, crafted for us by God.

Question: Our eternal bodies will reside in a sinless world, unlike our fallen world where our bodies are subject to disease. What does this verse imply about our eternal bodies?

 2 Corinthians 5:1 (New Living Translation)
…we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.

Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
Do you ever find yourself feeling so comfortable in your current life that you worry about giving up certain worldly things when you die? If so, what can you do to change your view of heaven?

 

 

Our actions in this life help determine the rewards we may receive along with what role we will play in heaven. What role do you think God may have for you? Do you think you are “training” well enough? How can you improve?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you an understanding of the wonders of heaven that you may be hopeful and always eagerly awaiting your eternal home. Thank God for sending His son here to die for our sins so that we may spend eternity with 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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

LIO 3/24– One Word for the Wide Gate

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

TUESDAY – One Word for the Wide Gate
Big Point: Hell is literal, it is real and its gates are wide.

You need to think more about eternity, not less.

Rick Warren

Yesterday we talked about the afterlife and the choices that are presented to us. The bottom line is pretty straightforward. We accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God because he came to earth as the one acceptable, perfect sacrifice required to save us from our sins. He then died and rose from death three days later. This is the core of Christianity. Either we accept the entire truth or we do not. Accepting this truth requires faith that when we leave this world, we will be in heaven with Jesus. Understanding that we may never fully grasp what waits for us after we die, we have to trust God and know that our future in eternity is safe with Him.

The opposite is true if we do not accept Jesus Christ. If we choose to reject the gospel of Christ, eternity looks vastly different. We will be separated from God in a place called hell. Hell is very real and it is described in great detail in the Bible. It is a place of endless suffering and torment. It isn’t an easy subject to discuss because we want to equate God to nothing but love and hell does not seem loving. Jesus makes a very clear statement about those who believe in him and those who do not; one familiar passage is John 3:16 where he says that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. A couple of verses later, he says that those who believe are not condemned but those who don’t believe are.

It is hard to wrap our minds around an all-loving God who would send people to hell. However, God loves us enough to allow us to choose which path to take. The ball is in our court. It is our choice to accept Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice or to reject it. Even though Jesus tells us to choose life, unfortunately, many will reject the gift of salvation and will be separated from God. This is truly the greatest tragedy of all.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. Paul is encouraging the people of Thessalonica because they were enduring persecution and suffering. He was letting them know that God will avenge those that not only persecuted them, but also those that rejected the Gospel.

Question: What happened to those that turned away from the teachings as written in these verses?

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 (New Living Translation)
8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might.

 

Answer:

 

 

  1. This passage in John very clearly shows the distinction between those that accept Jesus and those that do not.

 

Question: What are the benefits of accepting and trusting Jesus? What about those who don’t “see life”?

John 3:36 (New Living Translation)
And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment.

 Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
Do you believe in a literal place after life called hell? If not, why?

 

 

 

Who goes to hell? How would you answer the question, “How can a loving God send someone to hell?”

 

 

Why is our view of hell so focused on the physical aspect of pain? From your perspective, which would be hardest to endure: physical pain or the absence of God’s love?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask Jesus to help you believe and understand that there is a literal heaven and a literal hell. Ask God for help when you have doubts accepting that there are people who end up in hell. Pray for other people who you may know that also struggle with accepting this as truth.

 

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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

 

LIO 3/23-SERIES: I Don’t Know What I Believe…The Afterlife

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

There is one very serious defect in Christ’s moral character and that is he believed in hell. I do not feel myself that any person who is really profoundly humane can believe in everlasting punishment.

– Bertrand Russell

Noted Philosopher and Agnostic

No matter who you are, there is a difficult truth about your life that you will inevitably face— one day you are going to die. Your heart is going to stop beating and your lungs will stop taking in breath. There is a multibillion dollar enterprise dedicated to slowing the aging process but the mortality rate in America is still hovering right at 100%. We have all heard the common clichés, “biting the big one”, “meeting the big man in the sky”, and “biting the dust”. All of these phrases are making light of something really awful. Our earthly lives just can’t last forever.

So what is next? Have you ever thought about what heaven is like? For that matter, have you ever thought about hell? Thinking about these things can be troubling but it’s more troubling if we don’t think about them at all! God actually commands us to do this!

Colossians 3:2 says, “Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.” It may seem obvious, but thinking about the afterlife can actually change your earthly life today. It can give you hope and encouragement; plus it will help you put your treasure in the things that really matter.

In the book of James, life is compared to a vapor that appears and then quickly vanishes. The Bible also goes on to describe life after death as lasting “ages of ages”. If life lasted forever here on earth, we would never have to think about what happens afterwards! We would never have to trust in God for anything. Simply put, we would not need faith.

Scripture says that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6). This is especially true on the topic of life after death. Do you really believe what God says about the afterlife? Have you placed all your faith in Him or do you still have your doubts? Do you use everyday clichés to lighten the impact of your temporary stay on this earth? Or do you trust in God to receive your spirit wholeheartedly, whenever that day may come?

You do have a choice. And your choice matters. Who do you believe? Where have you placed your hope? Have you accepted all of Jesus’ teachings or have you only embraced the teachings that you feel comfortable with? It may surprise you to know that Jesus talked more about hell than he did heaven. Yes, both heaven and hell are real places! And, people are going there! For the believer, though, to die is to gain the ultimate reward of Christ. There should be no fear of hell for someone that has accepted Christ. Jesus’ love for humanity is and was great enough to speak plainly about what happens after death. And, Jesus sits at his Father’s right hand, ready to welcome into heaven any sinner who places their trust in him!

 

THIS WEEK’S STUDY IS ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE AND WHAT SCRIPTURE HAS TO SAY ABOUT IT.

MONDAY — Last Chapter and Happy Endings
Big Point: The afterlife does not always end the way we want it to.

Seeing death as the end of life is like seeing the horizon as the end of the ocean. 

David Searls

      Who doesn’t love a happy ending? Between movies, romance novels and TV shows, we are always rooting for the guy to get the girl in the end. This is the type of world we live in. Our society thrives on ensuring that when you leave the theater or close that book, you are feeling good and satisfied. However, what happens when the villain wins or the girl turns down the guy’s proposal? What happens when the ending doesn’t turn out like we think it should?

Now think about the afterlife. For Christians, we understand that there is a life with Jesus that is beyond death. Death then becomes not an end, but a new beginning. However, there are times when we want to pick and choose what the afterlife will be like. We tend to treat Christ’s teachings like a buffet, taking out or choosing not to accept what he taught, especially about the afterlife. He said that we have two choices: life or death. We have life when we choose to follow Jesus and when we leave this physical world, we will continue to live in heaven with him. If we deny Christ, death means hell and separation from God. Jesus spoke on heaven and hell with distinct clarity and vivid imagery, indicating that these are real places. Jesus told his disciples that his Father’s house has many mansions or “rooms” and that he must go to prepare a place for them. He also describes hell as a “fiery furnace” where there will be much suffering — both emotional and physical.

The beauty behind these two choices is that Jesus tells us the truth about both and to choose life! Choosing life means to not only choose Jesus, but all of his works, miracles and teachings. Unlike the movie or book that can be re-written and changed to our liking, we can’t pick and choose what we like and don’t like about God, Jesus or the afterlife. We must be all in.

 

 

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. In Matthew, Jesus is teaching on many things: giving, prayer, how we should treat others, etc. He also teaches on the afterlife and describes God’s Kingdom, and also hell.

 

Question: How does Jesus describe these two places? Why does Jesus describe one as wide and the other as narrow?

 Matthew 7:13-14 (New Living Translation)
13 You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.

Answer:

 

 

  1. In the following passage, Jesus is teaching on the kingdom of heaven and he uses vivid imagery to describe hell.

 Question: What are the sights and sounds that will encompass hell? What type of feelings are invoked from this imagery?

Matthew 13:50 (New Living Translation)
…throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 Answer:

 

 

LIVE… What will you do now?

Accepting Jesus means accepting his teachings on heaven and hell. With honest reflection, do you feel any resistance to Jesus’ words about the afterlife? List them here:

 

 

Now, what can you do to help combat these doubts?

 

 

Heaven is something most people accept as “real”, but it is more difficult for some to also accept hell as a real place. We spend our lives trying to avoid suffering, so to think that there is a place where there is nothing but suffering is a hard pill to swallow. Are you one of those people? What is it about the thought of hell that bothers you most? What is the remedy to this? If you are resisting the remedy, why?

 

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
In light of accepting Jesus’ teaching on the afterlife, try praying this prayer: God, open my eyes to the truth of the afterlife as taught by Jesus. Help any area of unbelief that I may have so that I can choose life!

 

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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

 

LIO for the Week of 3/23-SERIES: I Don’t Know What I Believe…The Afterlife

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

LIO 3/20— Make Someone Feel Special!

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

FRIDAY— Make Someone Feel Special!
Big Point: There is life-changing power in a personal invite to church!

Do you remember the amazing feeling that followed when you were invited to something special? Whether you receive a Facebook invitation to a birthday party of someone you admire or an exclusive invitation to a private event at a chic location, we all love it when someone that we care about makes “the ask”.

There are some “asks” in life that won’t happen without your participation— like asking someone to come to church with you this weekend. Think about the people who work in your office, the other students in your class, your server at your favorite restaurant—people who need hope, encouragement and most of all, Jesus.

Think about all of the times that you sat in a CedarCreek weekend service and thought, “I wish that so-and-so was here.” While you can’t tie someone up and kidnap them to the 10:45am service (seriously, don’t do that…), you can extend an invite card and make a simple ask.

Here’s what we know: you’re going to run into someone between today and the start of tomorrow’s weekend service that you can invite to church. That invite card in your wallet or purse is an invitation to an experience that someone has been waiting for his or her entire life—but it won’t happen unless you step up.

Let’s all take advantage of the power of the invite TODAY!

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. Peter made it his life’s work to talk to nonbelievers about Jesus. In one sermon alone, over 3,000 people came to faith in Christ!

Question: Even in ancient times, people had differing ideas of how to connect with God. Read 1 Peter 3:15-16 and identify Peter’s instructions for how to talk to nonbelievers about Jesus Christ. If you only had one minute to explain your faith in Christ, what would you say to a nonbeliever?

1 Peter 3:15-16 New Living Translation)
15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a beleiver, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.

 Answer:

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
We hope that you’ve been convicted to stand confidently in the one true God. Wrap up this week’s study praying that God would give you opportunities to share your faith with others. Ask God to reveal to you who you could invite this weekend.

 

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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

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

  1. Unlike any other religious leader, Jesus claimed to be God. How important is it that we believe what Jesus claimed about himself?
  2. How does believing Jesus is God’s Son affect your life? For those who believe, how can someone tell by looking at your life?
  3. Believers and nonbelievers often struggle with the questions of why God allows suffering and why He doesn’t relieve the suffering of the world right now. What has Jesus already done to relieve suffering?
  4. What kind of pain affects your life the most, physical or emotional? Have you ever felt like the pain you have gone through was worth it?
  5. After hearing Lee this past weekend, answer the question, “Does science disprove Christianity?” Has your thinking changed on this?
  6. This series is titled, I Don’t Know What I Believe. After hearing about God, is there an area you still need to take to Him in prayer, to Scripture to see what it says, or to a wise and trusted believer to work through?

 

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

John 12:46 (NLT)

Weekend Updates!

Daily Bible Reading Plan: You can sign up for a daily personalized Bible reading plan to be delivered right to your inbox. Visit YouVersion.com or Biblegateway.com to select a reading plan today.

Podcasts are Here! You may have heard Lee mention during a weekend message, or saw it mentioned in print, that our own Kyle Gray has started a series of podcasts on Revelations and Reading the Bible in a Year. Consider listening in to Shatterbox Radio at CedarCreek.tv, click on media player; at the iTunes store, search for “shatterbox radio”, or through the CedarCreek Church app.

Next Weekend: Invite someone to join us for “I Don’t Know What I Believe: The Afterlife.”

TONIGHT! Are you struggling? We can help! There is a Celebrate Recovery meeting at your campus every Friday night at 7pm. Celebrate Recovery is for anyone struggling with anxiety, co-dependency, depression, addiction and more. Visit CedarCreek.tv/celebraterecovery for more information.

Have some feedback? Email questions or comments to MarnaW@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: www.livingitout.tv

RESOURCES:
The Reason for God by Tim Keller

gci.org

Christianity Today, Why Believe in God 

Slate.com

Dare2Share.org

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study Team:

Stephanie Coil

Barb Roose

Karri Tawney

Shelley Adams

Sherry Rollins

Ann Wiskochil

 

LIO 3/19– One of the Great Debates

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

THURSDAY – One of the Great Debates
Big Point: Fact or Fiction?

 

Religion and science are opposed…but only in the same sense as that in which my thumb and forefinger are opposed – and between the two, one can grasp anything.

– Sir William Bragg

What is science? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “science” is knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation. Pastor and best-selling author Tim Keller, in his book The Reason For God, looks at the methodology science uses to explore: “Science assumes a natural cause for everything and if something doesn’t match up, then it’s accounted for lack of data. So, at the highest level of science, you realize all of it’s a theory. We don’t really know molecules and atoms exist…it’s all theory.” Keller also goes on to list the things that science can’t do: Give you meaning in life, teach you right from wrong, and tell you what to do with your guilt. But, the answers to the things that science can’t do can be found in the Bible!

Another resource puts it this way: The Bible is not a textbook on science. That doesn’t mean it is unscientific – just that its primary focus is not a scientific explanation of the phenomena it describes. It does claim to be the Word of God. God could have given us a detailed scientific explanation of creation. But, based on what we know now, such an explanation would have had to include quark theory, quantum physics, chaos and relativity, all operating in perhaps 11 or more dimensions. But, God chose not to address these topics in the Bible. The Scriptures are given to make us ‘wise for salvation’ (2 Timothy 3:15). Faith and salvation are primary themes of the Bible. The Scriptures are to show us the way to our ultimate destiny, not to answer every question about where life came from. Because scientists focus on a different set of questions than those addressed in the Bible, we can expect their answers to be different from, but not necessarily incompatible with, what it reveals.

Let’s use the resurrection as an example. If Christ truly rose from the dead, then he successfully conquered death. That’s a big deal. What evidence do we have that Christ was raised from the dead? The evidence is an empty tomb. That’s a problem for anyone who thinks it’s not true. If Christ’s enemies had found the body, don’t you think they would have paraded it around town? Or something even more heinous? Or let’s say the disciples made it all up. Let’s say they hid the body so that people would believe Christ rose from the dead. But that doesn’t line up with what they did next. They went out preaching the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, but they didn’t do this for money, or to become mighty and powerful rulers. In fact, they risked their lives to preach about the resurrection of Christ. And all, except John, were eventually killed for it. They did it because, as eye witnesses to Christ’s death and resurrection, they knew it was true.

READ and THINK… What does the Bible say?

  1. As the first book of the Bible, Genesis tells of the creation of the world and provides important historical reference for the rest of the Bible.

Question: The first verse of the Bible is crucial to the rest of the Bible. What big scientific fact is stated in this verse? If someone doesn’t believe this, how does that impact his or her faith journey?

Genesis 1:1 (New Living Translation)
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Answer:

 

  1. Throughout his letter to the Corinthians, Paul presents issues that are troubling the community in Corinth and offers ways to fix them. Some Jews and Greeks rejected the idea that Jesus Christ was crucified and resurrected. Others believed, knowing it was the power of God who raised Christ from the dead.

Question: What characteristic do people who reject Christ’s resurrection have? What about believers?

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (New International Version)
22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Answer:

 

LIVE… What will you do now?
Do you believe in the Biblical account of creation or the scientific account? How did you arrive at your current beliefs?

 

What, if any, other beliefs do you have that are based in science and not the Bible?

 

What do you believe in the Bible that you would like more “proof” of that it really happened the way the Bible says?

 

PRAY… God, what do you want me to know and do?
Ask God to help you believe His Word fully. Ask Him for understanding as you read Scripture that challenges what you’ve believed about science and the world around 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.

 Thanks for reading today’s daily devotional! We encourage you to enhance your spiritual growth by participating in a Daily Bible Reading plan. There are thousands of individual reading plans available and there is ONE that is just right for you!

. CLICK HERE to download a basic “Bible in a year” plan. Customizable reading plans available at Youversion.com or Biblegateway.com.

2015 Memory Verses

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

April, 2015
“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”
Ephesians 3:20

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

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

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

Past Memory Verses

Click here to download the 2014 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2013 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2012 Memory Verses.

Click here to download the 2011 Memory Verses.