Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus – At the Movies

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Ah, The Matrix! In 2000, I saw a sanitized version on TV with my (then) 11-year-old son. I was clueless! So when Lead Pastor Ben Snyder unveiled a higher meaning to this sci-fi megahit, I was surprised to see Christ, forgiveness, and salvation throughout. Funny how God unveils spiritual truth through temporal examples!

In one scene, the main character, Neo, realizes the world around him is merely a mirage and believes it cannot hurt him because he is not of it. This scene demonstrates what happens when a person first discovers God’s offer of his love and forgiveness. By embracing that invitation, one becomes an eternal being—a child of God—in the world but not of it (John 17:14). That’s the moment of clarity. The moment we realize this domain is only temporary.

James 4:14
“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.”

We, like Neo, realize this temporal realm is not what it seems and charge out to conquer evil. Dare I say, he begins to feel invincible … until his arch-enemy “kills” him. How’d that happen? Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever forgotten that Satan is the father of lies and loves nothing more than to see us fail when we fall for those lies?

This happens to me more times than I can count. I forget I’m a child of the one true King and blink when Satan spews a lie at me, hitting the mark by sending pain, fear, pride, and failure to distract me from God’s missions for me.

Most recently, I’ve been plagued with an ongoing string of illnesses and have allowed Satan to make me flinch. Consequently, I resigned from four of the ministries I served. I felt defeated. Then my friend reminded me to see this setback from an eternal perspective—to remember God IS still on his throne and in control, and I am still his servant. She said I should pray and open my heart to whatever other ministry God may have for me now. Since then, I have become a prayer warrior, a better listener, and God has sent me three different people to help by sharing what he taught me when I was in their circumstances.

Remember that even though Satan may derail your service to God with his lies, he cannot take your salvation as a child of God! Jesus paid the price demanded for ALL your sins—past, present, and future. Satan can harass, distract, and lie to you, but you can choose not to fall for it.

Questions:
Are you so distracted by the temporal that you have lost touch with the eternal?

If so, what are you going to do about it?

Next Steps:
Consider reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis for an interesting take on how Satan and his minions rob us of our joy and effectiveness.

Turn off the podcasts, news reports, pundits, etc.  Step away from your phone. There is nothing Satan likes more than to distract us with fear mongering. Open your Bible and READ it—one verse, chapter, book, and testament at a time.

Pray. Make the most important thing the first and last thing you do every day. Jesus’ brother James wrote, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world” (James 4:8).

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for your love and how you can use all things to guide us to you. Help us to keep our eyes and hearts open to those lessons wherever you may put them. In Jesus’ name I 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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New Power Unlocked – At the Movies

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We watch movies like The Matrix as an escape, as a way to experience impossible worlds and imagine fantastical storylines that we could never live in real life. But as Lead Pastor Ben Snyder taught us this weekend, there is a message in this movie that is more relatable than we initially may think.

When we are introduced to the main character in The Matrix, it’s very clear that he never suspected he would end up successfully dodging bullets and fighting cyber bad guys. But we can sense that he begins the movie searching for something bigger. He needs to find the truth. As the truth is revealed to him, he’s skeptical. But when he starts to embrace his purpose, his powers begin to unlock.

When we go about our daily lives, things may feel as mundane as Mr. Anderson in his very bland office cubicle. But if we allow ourselves to ask questions, to search for truth, and to seek to know God, we will find freedom and discover our purpose.

When Neo stepped into his purpose, he quickly discovered an ever-present evil that was constantly trying to stop him. But because he had embraced his new role, he also gained some pretty great powers. “With great power comes great responsibility” (aka “The Peter Parker Principle” from Stan Lee’s Spider-Man comic books). Wrong movie, but just like Neo, we will encounter evil. We will have powers pushing back against us as we step into God’s purpose for us. But as we encounter these evils, we aren’t left unarmed. God gives us powers we never knew we had. And he equips us with exactly what we need. Stay connected with God, stay focused on his purpose for you, and he will give you what you need.

Hebrews 13:20-21
20 Now may the God of peace—who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and ratified an eternal covenant with his blood— 21 may he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen.

Questions:
Have you ever sensed evil push-back as you have stepped into your purpose? What was your response?

What steps have you taken to get to know God? What does it look like in a practical sense?

Next Steps:
Think of someone you know who you feel has stepped into God’s purpose for their life. If you feel comfortable, ask them about their journey. Have they felt resistance toward their purpose? Have they felt armed by God against the resistance?

Prayer:
Dear God, please reveal your purpose for me. Help me to understand my role in fighting against the evil in the world and stepping into the purpose you have given me. Thank you for not leaving me unarmed against the resistance I face in the world. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a blogger at GratefulSheep.com and a stay-at-home mom and wife. She loves writing for this team, and she hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Freedom Isn’t an Easy Truth – At the Movies

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I spent my adolescence in a place without space or time and thought I was the only one who knew. The aspiration for more had always played a role, but getting there seemed impossible. On January 21, 2001, I hugged my grandmother during a closing chapter in our lives, and she said, “Now, go live your life.”

Her words were powerful, but they were an uncommon encouragement. That moment told me something about the different ways God shows up to let us know he is pursuing us. Sometimes letting go of the past—even if it used to be a positive part of your identity—is necessary to capture your idea of freedom.

However, our perception of freedom doesn’t always mirror reality. As I went off to live my life as my grandmother had suggested, I found myself slipping back into past routines because it was easier

In these moments it is important to remember that we were slaves to sin, but God in his grace, made a way for us to find a new life. When we struggle we must also remember that God doesn’t see us as a disappointment, he sees us as his masterpiece.

Ephesians 2:10
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.

Freedom was harder to come by—maybe because deliverance allows us to see what God sees, which can be scary at times, especially when what he sees is something special about us. The challenge becomes acknowledging your worthiness. You stop being surprised by your capabilities when you wake up in God’s light. Living in your purpose speaks to his truth because you were always meant to happen.

Questions:
Do you think freedom is easy to obtain? Do you live in your past too often?

Next Steps:
Discover your purpose by attending GrowthTrack. Learn to forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Pursue God the way he pursues you by building your spiritual relationship during the week through prayer, life groups, and studying your Bible.

Prayer:
Thank you for all that I have. Help me see the way forward, even when the path is difficult. Forgive me for my doubts. Please, allow me to understand the things I can handle and continue to teach me how to let go of the things I have no control over. Thank you for loving me. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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I’ve Been Searching for You! – At the Movies

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Have you ever had moments in your life where you feel like everything is just a dream? Like maybe you are a character in a movie, acting out some pre-scripted plot? I know I have, and it has left me wondering: What am I truly here for?

In our new series, At The Movies, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder previewed clips of The Matrix. In it, the main character is living two lives: (1) a software programmer named Thomas Anderson and (2) a master hacker known as Neo. As Thomas, he goes through the motions of life, doing his job but going nowhere. As Neo, he is searching for something, someone—trying to understand if there is more purpose to life.

What he doesn’t realize is that while he has been searching for purpose, someone has been searching for him. In fact, he is being pursued by a couple of different entities. One is a group of agents who don’t have his best interest at heart, and the other is Morpheus, who wants to help him discover the secrets of the Matrix and his true potential.

I saw this movie years ago, but it never occurred to me just how much the analogy relates to our lives here on Earth, and to our relationship with God. Just as Morpheus saw potential in Neo and had been pursuing him Neo’s entire life, God sees that we are full of potential and has been pursuing us since the day we came into existence. The lengths Morpheus went through to find Neo were rather extensive, but they were nothing compared to the lengths God went through to reach us when he sent his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins.

Morpheus knew everything about Neo and his imperfect life as “Thomas” and still pursued him. In the same way, God sees our reality, our messes, and our hopelessness. He created us and knows us intimately, and he isn’t waiting for us to get it right either. Instead, he is asking us to trust him and follow his leadings.

Luke 15:3-5
3 So Jesus told them this story: 4 “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders.

Questions:
Can you relate your life to Neo’s?

How does God pursue us? How have you seen him pursue you?

Do you trust, or try to get out of life’s difficulties on your own?

Next Steps:
Take the time to learn more about God and his love for you.

If you haven’t done so, enroll in GrowthTrack to help discover your unique, God-given gifts.

Prayer:
Almighty God, thank you for seeing in me things that I don’t see in myself. Thank you for not waiting for me to get it right but, instead, loving me enough to pursue me aggressively. Father, help me to avoid the trap of a worldly life and help me to seek to know you better to find the life-changing adventure you offer. Help me to realize that on my own, I am doomed to fail, but when I relinquish control to you, there is no limit to what I can accomplish. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Is There More to the Story? – At the Movies

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The first movie I remember seeing at the theater was The Return of the Jedi. I was six years old, and we were on a family vacation in Florida. My dad and older siblings were excited to escape the heat and take in the conclusion of the Star Wars trilogy.  For me, it was more of an introduction to the series. The experience of watching Luke Skywalker and the rebel forces fight off Darth Vader and the evil empire captured my imagination.

Over the years, movies have played a large role in our society. Often, we watch movies to be entertained or to take a break from real life. However, the best movies reveal truths about life. Sometimes, they highlight the best parts of humanity and other times, the worst. Sometimes they make us laugh, other times, they make us cry. They help us reflect on the past and inspire us to dream about the future.

Within the movies we love, we can find unexpected messages about ourselves and the world around us that can change our lives.

This weekend, we looked at one of my all-time favorite blockbuster movies, The Matrix. In this movie, we see the main character, Neo, searching for answers to questions about his existence. He has a sense that there is something more going on in the world than what he sees in his everyday life.

Perhaps you find yourself in a similar frame of mind. You are questioning and wondering if there is more to your life. Perhaps you have settled into a nice routine, completing your to-dos and going through the motions with those around you, but you wonder if you have a greater part to play in the world.

The questions this movie challenges us with are: “What do you do when you sense that there is more to your life than what you see?” And, “Do you ignore it, or should you search for answers?”

Neo chose to search for answers. He wanted to see “how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Are you ready to search for the answers to your questions and ask God to reveal what he is doing around you?

 Proverbs 29:18  
If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what he reveals, they are most blessed.

Questions:
Do you sense that there is more going on in your life than what you can see?

When you have questions about life, do you tend to ignore them or search for answers?

Where do you go for answers?

Next Steps:
Read each day of the LivingItOut this week as we look at key truths and principles about searching for meaning in our lives?

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for being the answer to my questions. You are at the end of my searching. Help me remember these truths when I feel lost and when I search for purpose. Help me see all you are doing in my life and guide my steps today. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
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