God Opportunities to Move You – The Adventure of You

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Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder wrapped up our series The Adventure of You by unpacking the story of Esther. The crucial word in the title is YOU.

You are given opportunities from God to move you toward what moves him. However, these opportunities are not all about you. Rather, they put into perspective what really matters. Ben tells us that we are here on purpose for a purpose. Once we realize that, we are able to move toward what really matters—what matters to God.

What do you think will be important 100 years from now? It won’t be all the stuff we have accumulated on earth; it will be our relationship with God and our relationships with all the people God has put around us. We are given God opportunities to make an eternal difference in people, just like Esther did.

Esther 7:2-3
2 … the king again said to Esher, “Tell me what you want, Queen Esther. What is your request? I will give it to you, even if it is half the kingdom!” 3 Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor with the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my request, I ask that my life and the lives of my people will be spared.”

This was not a simple request for Esther to make of the king. Esther could have lost her life since the king had not requested her presence.  Esther accepted a God opportunity that set off a chain of events that would make heaven more full. Events that wouldn’t resume until 30 years later when a cupbearer named Nehemiah was given the opportunity to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to where a priest delivered a message whereas people returned to Israel and established their country again. About 400 years later, Jesus was born in a town called Bethlehem, lived a perfect life, and then sacrificed himself for our sins, which made it possible for the whole world to be saved. None of this would have happened had Esther not accepted God’s adventure for her life and saved her people.

WOW! It is realistic to say that Esther had no clue her act of courage with King Xerxes would produce so many crowns in God’s Kingdom.

1 Thessalonians 2:19 (emphasis added)
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is YOU!

Questions:
What God opportunity have you been invited to step into today? Are you willing to accept the invitation?

Are you using your life to make heaven more full? If not, say yes to a God opportunity and see what happens.

Next Steps:
Consider reading Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. This book has topped charts, sold millions of copies, and been translated into 85 languages. I highly recommend it!

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for giving us the God opportunities that move us closer to what moves you. Open our eyes so we may see these opportunities, and grant us the courage to live them out. Make us a movement of people that seek kingdom crowns. In your Son’s holy name, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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An Invitation For Your Presence To Be A Present – The Adventure of You

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Do you ever reflect and wonder about some of the opportunities that passed you by? I’m not suggesting to live in the past. Rather, consider the blessings you may have missed that could have made a world of difference. It’s time for each of us to start believing that God created us to aspire to be more.

Too often, we think that our talents, gifts, and blessings are for us alone. “But talent is a common thing. People waste it every day. They abuse it. They take it for granted. Success comes not from what God has given you but from what you do with it.”

I would like to say that’s a brilliant quote from someone like Nietzsche or Maya Angelou, but it’s from the movie “Gladiator”—no—the lesser-known “Gladiator” movie from 1992.

Imagine if the riches from King Xerxes and the admiration of the people had been enough for Esther. Going from orphan to queen, who could blame her?

Esther 2:17-18
17 And the king loved Esther more than any of the other young women. He was so delighted with her that he set the royal crown on her head and declared her queen instead of Vashti. 18 To celebrate the occasion, he gave a great banquet in Esther’s honor for all his nobles and officials, declaring a public holiday for the provinces and giving generous gifts to everyone.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder mentioned that it’s our abundance of things that sometimes keeps us from seeing God’s opportunities. But opportunities from God are always bigger than you.

Esther 4:14
“If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

God opportunities are always more significant—even when we’re already thinking big with our gifts and blessings. Former NBA player Dikembe Mutombo was attending Georgetown University with a great purpose in mind. Coach John Thompson saw the 7-footer and offered him a basketball scholarship. When Mutombo turned him down, stressing that his desire was to become a medical doctor and save lives in his native Democratic Republic of Congo, Coach Thompson presented him with a bigger opportunity. He said with the money earned from playing basketball, Mutombo could go home and build hospitals that would save even more lives.

Coach Thompson may have spoken the words, but the opportunity came from God. In 1997, while still in the prime of his NBA career, Mutombo’s foundation built a $29 million hospital in the capital of his native home. By 2012, the hospital had treated close to 500,000 people.

What is the opportunity God is inviting you into?

Questions:
How do you spot God opportunities in your life? Do you feel unhappy or lacking when you keep blessings to yourself? How do you use your gifts from God?

Next Steps:
Take GrowthTrack to help unlock your spiritual gifts and start using them the way God intended. Use your time, energy, and extra blessings to make a difference in your community. If you aren’t sure of what to do, seek out different organizations and ask them what they need from you. Join a Group or positive social media groups to participate in various projects.

Prayer:
Father God, first, thank you for blessing me each day. I am humbled by the grace shown from the blessings and opportunities I have squandered in the past. Continue to show me new ways to use my talent in the world, and thank you for giving me the confidence to share and grow a gift that I used to keep for myself. Allow me to continue to grow as a blessing as my faith continues to grow in you. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Operation Obstacle – The Adventure of You

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Most obstacles are “God opportunities” in disguise.

It is easy to miss potential when all you are focused on is your own problems.

As someone who was a workaholic, using work to escape, I should’ve been humbled in January 2016. An injury put me on the shelf for four months. But, I healed from the injury and got back to work elsewhere, leaving the company I was with. I gave up on my previous job. When I was given the option to return to work, I turned it down. I saw a challenge and walked.

Similarly, in January 2021, extenuating health issues forced me out of work for four months. It was nothing short of humbling. Although I once again found myself in the midst of a challenge, I didn’t run, and I received many blessings in return. I suffered with some form of angst, yet I received great care. I suffered debt, yet I received income. And every need I encountered was met with fulfillment.

In my previous situation, I let my anxiety get the best of me and lost sight, focus, and track of my blessings. By the grace of God, with every life-giving meeting and opportunity to serve I’ve been presented, I’ve grown. He’s blessed my path with life-speaking people and experiences, from CedarCreek Groups to DreamTeams.

Now, the same business I’d given up on before recently opened a shop in Toledo with plans to open several others in the area. I just happened to come across a listing after searching for positions I knew to be within my skill set (and within my limitations). Of course, I applied … and I just started working there this past Monday! They are growing in an area that God has prepared me for through my experiences over the last four years.  Finding Jesus has positioned me to be a light in this new market.

Ben shares that there will be moments on your faith journey when you can’t see God. But you must trust that, even when you can’t feel him … you can faithfully move forward, knowing HE is still involved. Just because you can’t see his name, doesn’t mean he’s left the game.

Most obstacles are God opportunities in disguise.

The obstacle you are experiencing today might be God inviting you into something new. An opportunity to make a difference.

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

James 1:2-3           
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

Questions:
What’s your obstacle? How is it challenging you? How will you lean into your heavenly Father to see what he’s showing you?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t already, complete GrowthTrack to help you discover God’s purpose for you. If you’ve completed GrowthTrack, find a place to live out God’s plan for you. It could be a DreamTeam or a new situation you may be avoiding.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you are my source. No matter the obstacle, I will count it a blessing. I will rest in the knowledge that you are doing work. You’ve promised to always finish the work you started. You always illuminate my path, like a lamp to my feet. I trust in you through thick and thin. No obstacle is too big for you. You always go before me so I know I can handle what you allow in my path. All glory to you through your Son. Thank you, Father. Amen.


This post was written by TJ McCroskey, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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The Unexpected – The Adventure of You

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Do you have any embarrassing memories that, no matter how hard you try to forget, always seem to creep back? I went to a Christian school in fourth grade where we had a weekly church service. The speakers typically passed out candy if someone answered a question, but I was always too nervous to raise my hand. Well, one fateful day, a certain Bible verse was shown on the screen, and the speaker asked where the verse could be found.

Without thinking, I raised my hand and blurted out, “The Bible.”

Of course it was from the Bible! I felt so embarrassed when the teachers began to laugh. Obviously, they wanted to know the specific book in the Bible. After that experience, I wasn’t willing to raise my hand again for quite some time.

For a while, this memory brought on shame and humiliation. But it didn’t have to be a source of such feelings. It kept me from participating because I was afraid of messing up again.

This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about a very important person in the Bible—Esther. If you fast forward to the end of the story, you see how she bravely saved her people, the Jews, from genocide. But at the beginning, you would not expect her to be a hero.

Esther 2:5-7
5 At that time there was a Jewish man … whose name was Mordecai son of Jair. … 6 His family had been among those who … had been exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. 7 This man had a very beautiful and lovely young cousin, Hadassah, who was also called Esther. When her father and mother died, Mordecai adopted her into his family and raised her as his own daughter.

Esther was not only an orphan but part of a people in exile, making her a slave as well. Who would have expected that she would save the Jews? She had a lot more to carry around than a grade school mess-up.  But God loves to choose the unexpected.

1 Corinthians 1:28
God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.

God chooses people “counted as nothing,” people who are unexpected. He chose Esther, and he wants to invite you into an adventure as well.

Questions:
Are there any memories that weigh you down? Is there anyone you can share them with, any way to find freedom from that voice of shame?

Nest Steps:
Share something that has been giving you a false identity with someone you trust. Or take it a step further and join a group that will help you find freedom from sins in the past. Ask God to use you in his adventure.

Prayer:
Father, there are many things in my past that weigh me down. I give them all to you. Please use me in your incredible story. Help me listen to anything you have to say, any steps you want me to take. Thank you for choosing me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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You Want Me To Do What…?! – The Adventure of You

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Have you ever seen the movie, “300”? It is nasty and violent, but the bad guy is the same King Xerxes described in the book of Esther.

King Xerxes married a beautiful Jewish girl named Esther. After years of living like a rock star in the palace as Xerxes’ queen, Esther’s cousin and guardian, Mordecai, asked her to intervene for all the Jewish people living in Xerxes’ empire, who were slated for extermination. King Xerxes was one powerful, ungodly man.

Years earlier, Esther’s adventure started when she was orphaned  then adopted by her cousin Mordecai. They lived in the same town as Xerxes. After the king became mad at his wife, he sent out minions to round up the most beautiful women in his kingdom so that he could choose a new queen. Of all the women he saw, Xerxes fell madly in love with Esther.

Life was wonderful as the queen of Persia—great food, nice clothes, and people who obeyed Esther’s every command. There was one rule, though: anyone who showed up at the King’s “office” uninvited was killed.

So why were the Jews going to be exterminated? Xerxes’ top aide,  Haman, hated Mordecai for refusing to bow down to him; Mordecai would only bow to God. In retaliation, Haman told King Xerxes lies about the Jews and convinced him to order that all Jews living in the empire be murdered on a particular day of the next year. When Mordecai heard this, he told Queen Esther to convince the king to rescind his order or all their people would die. (Incidentally, she never told the king she was Jewish, or related to Mordecai.)

Enter God’s Big Adventure for Esther. How does she respond to being asked to approach King Xerxes without having a prior invitation? She tells Mordecai, “No.” Remember—it’s a guaranteed death sentence!  Mordecai is having none of her nonsense, though, and tells her:

Esther 4:13-14 
13 “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

Mordechai’s admonishment set her on God’s great adventure for her life. It was then that she began … well, it’s a great read, so let me know how you like the ending.

Questions:
Have you ever asked God what his plan is for your life?

Does your life reflect your true God-given titles: “Child of the King” and “Servant of the One True God?”

Are you looking for the opportunity God is inviting you into?

Next Steps:
Fast, pray, and listen for God’s response when you ask him to reveal your Big Adventure. Then embrace it, and trust God to fulfill his plan for your life.

Prayer:
I praise your holy, perfect name, Lord. You are the great “I am” not “I was” or “I will be.” You are forever whom you say you are: the Creator of all that ever was and will be, our Abba, and King. Please, forgive me for letting fear and selfishness keep me from serving you with all my heart and strength. Help me to remember life on Earth is only temporary, but as your child, you promise I will be with you forever in eternity. Help me to keep that focus and live “on purpose,” serving you however you ask me to. In Jesus’ powerful name we pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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