Forecast the Consequences – Bad Girls of The Bible

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“Where was Jaron?”

That is a question that was asked by my friends quite often during my 20s. You see, I had a way of easing the tension in a room when opposing egos clashed, but my introverted nature kept me at home more times than not.

So, when I wasn’t there, “Where was Jaron?” often followed the aftermath of the previous night’s events. Things got to a point where I began to weigh the risks vs. rewards of a night out with my friends. And although I typically prevented drama, I knew that my group’s tendencies would one day bring me unnecessary burdens. I avoided future regret by forecasting the consequences of a night out and choosing to stay home.

I didn’t always forecast the consequences at the right time. Like everyone else, I have a list of regrets that were once avoidable moments. A few that come to mind are quitting a good job because I had a bad day, playing in a tournament with a compromised ACL, and not giving someone their “flowers” while they were still living. The last one carries more remorse than the others.

During last weekend’s message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder told us that instead of making assumptions, we should forecast the consequences of our choices. In other words, begin with the end in mind, because that’s what will help us in the moment. He added, “Anything outside of God’s plan for you and me will lead us further away from life. It leads us toward death.”

Proverbs 14:12
There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

Matthew 7:13-14
13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the 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.

Those verses remind us to honestly think about what we do next. We need to ask if deception is at play just as the serpent deceived Eve. Be aware that any moment can wear the mask of feeling good and looking right.

Despite our best intentions, eventually, we will mess up because it’s part of being human. However, God doesn’t burden us to carry our regret from the consequences alone. God walks with us, and when we try to hide, he finds us time and time again. He doesn’t judge us by our worst mistakes. No, God talks to us. He reminds us that it could’ve been avoided if we had anticipated the end, but he is there to love us, even through the disaster. He is the champion who invites us to carry his victory instead of our regret.

Questions:
Do you think about the consequences of your actions? How often do you place God at the center of your decision-making? What is the difference in the outcomes when God is at the center versus you?

Next Steps:
If people are pulling you away from God, make a conscious effort to move back toward him by placing him at the center of your life and choices each day. Start the day by reading your Bible and praying. Live life with other Christians, and find an accountability partner. Weigh the wants vs. the needs of your decisions.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for each day I have because it provides an opportunity to move toward the purpose you have in store for my life. Continue to place God-loving and human-loving people in my life. May I be reminded that the consequences of my poor actions aren’t a coincidence, but the regret from them doesn’t have to hold me in place. There is an opportunity to learn, grow, and love as you have intended. Amen.


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


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The First Lady – Bad Girls of the Bible

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Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder introduced our next series, Bad Girls of the Bible. The bottom line of the series is, “Your focus shapes your future.” This week, our focus is on the original bad girl, Eve. And today, we are focusing on Ben’s lesson that most of our regrets could be avoided if we considered the source.

As a female, daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, I wanted to know more about the First Lady of the world. So I Googled “Eve.” Much to my dismay, the first search result from that source proclaimed Eve to be an American rapper! I decided to change my source to Genesis 1-3, where I learned that Eve was created by God from Adam’s rib so that Adam would not be alone in the garden. Unfortunately, rather than obeying God’s direct command to not eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, Eve listened to the tempting words of the serpent instead and committed the original sin! Having committed a few sins of my own, I read on wondering if Eve had regrets.

I learned that not only was Eve the first woman of the world, and Adam’s companion, she was the mother of us all! She shared a special relationship with God and co-responsibility with Adam over creation. She also displayed certain characteristics of God. Although she was in paradise, she showed weakness by allowing Satan to undermine her contentment. Satan helped Eve shift her focus away from all that God had provided to the one thing he had withheld. Eve acted impulsively without talking either to God or her mate. She not only sinned but also shared her sin with Adam. And when confronted with that sin, she blamed others!

(Breathing a sigh of relief) … It seems the basic human tendency to sin goes back to the beginning of the human race! Like Eve, how often is our attention drawn from the much that is ours to the little that isn’t?

Why is our pursuit of happiness undermined by the green grass on the other side of the fence? To whom are we listening? Are our sources credible, life giving, and trustworthy? Or are they selfish and ego-centric? Do we need to refocus on what is most important?

Hebrews 12:1b-2a:  
1b And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2a fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of the faith.

Questions:
What regrets do you have? Can you lay them down and, instead, pick up and live out God’s Grace?

Next Steps:
Most regrets could be avoided if we consider the source. Make sure your sources are credible, life giving, and trustworthy. To help you with your next step, consider joining a CedarCreek Group or attending the Leadership Summit online or in person on August 5-6 for a new perspective.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for creation! Help us to see ourselves as an image of you. Teach us from credible sources. Help us teach others.  Amen.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and five grandsons.


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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Focus on the Truth – Bad Girls of the Bible

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When I was young, I remember some hurtful things that were said to me.  In 5th grade, some boys said I was stupid. I also remember trying to fit in with my peers but doubted that I did. Sometimes the voices were real, and other times, they were my own self doubt.

I think it’s important to analyze the “voices” in our lives. What are they saying, who is saying them, and most importantly, are they true?

This weekend, we read how the serpent used his voice to make Eve question what God said. His questions caused a shift in her focus, leading her to exaggerate the truth by adding to what God told her.

Genesis 3:2-3       
2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. 3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”

Eve exaggerated that she couldn’t even touch the fruit. That was not part of God’s instruction. We tend to exaggerate the truth too by telling  ourselves lies that shift our focus. We tell ourselves that we would be happier if we had a new car or new house. We tell ourselves that our actions are innocent and not a big deal, but in reality, they are the beginning of a dangerous path.

This weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “When you focus on the truth, it helps you avoid regret.” Instead of listening to voices in your life that say you are not good enough or that there isn’t anything special about you, listen to what God says is true about you.

You are loved.John 3:16
You are special.Psalm 139:15
You are his child.Galatians 3:26

And when you find yourself exaggerating the truth, ask God to help you see it more clearly.

John 8:32   
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Proverbs 30:5      
Every word of God proves true. He is a shield to all who come to him for protection.

Questions:
What truth are you exaggerating about God and/or others? Does it hold the proper authority?

Next Steps:
If you believe a lie, confront it by getting clarity from the source. Turn your focus to God’s truth.

Prayer:
God, I am sorry for convincing myself of certain lies or exaggerating the truth. I convince myself that I need something or that a certain sin is not a big deal. You are the truth and the giver of life. You lead me toward life, God, but I won’t experience the life you intend for me by living in regret. Show me what it is you really say as I focus on the truth. I pray for a spirit of discernment to know whether it holds the proper authority. If it does not and will lead me toward a lie, I pray it would fall away. Each day, I pray that I will be reminded of what is most important so that I would not live life in regret thinking that you are holding out on me, when in reality, you want me to keep my focus on what is really true. Amen.


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to 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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Shift Your Focus – Bad Girls of the Bible

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Last December, I came across a picture that completely blew my mind. In it, two women, Mary and Eve, stand facing each other. Mary is holding one of Eve’s hands to her pregnant stomach, full with baby Jesus. In her other hand, Eve is clutching the forbidden fruit. It is a beautiful, powerful moment for both women as they experience their Savior.

In the first week of our series, Bad Girls of the Bible, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “Your focus shapes your future.”

When you are driving, you don’t sit backward focusing on the road behind you. No, you sit facing forward so you can see where you are going. If you don’t, you’ll crash or, at the very least, go in the wrong direction. The same is true in our lives. If we only focus on our past mistakes, we’re setting ourselves up to veer in a direction we don’t want to go, or worse, we’ll “crash,” causing even more damage in our lives. But if we look forward to what God has planned for us, we will have a great future.

John 10:10
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus’) purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

In the Bible, Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, a rich and satisfying place. God’s only command was to stay away from one tree and to fellowship with him. Instead, But she was so focused on the lies a snake told her that Eve disobeyed God. She chose to eat fruit from the forbidden tree. By doing so, Eve experienced a great deal of pain. She was kicked out of paradise and separated from God.

After leaving the Garden of Eden, Eve was probably stuck in her mistake, unable to focus on anything else. How could she get around such a huge problem? Luckily, God had a better plan. Through Eve, and her children and her children’s children, God eventually sent his son Jesus to forgive the sins of the world.

The book Honest Advent, written and illustrated by Scott Erickson, includes a version of the picture of Mary and Eve with one notable difference. Instead of clutching the fruit, Eve has tossed it behind her and is gazing in rapt wonder at Mary’s belly. Eve’s focus shifted. It moved from her sin to Jesus—the Savior of the world, the forgiver of sins. She saw that he is the way, the path on which she must focus to lead her to a better future.

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

Questions:
What is your focus that will eventually lead you in the wrong direction? Is it your past, fear, anger, grief, lies? How can you shift your focus to God and his plan for you?

Next Steps:
Study the picture Virgin Mary Consoles Eve by Sr. Grace Remington, OCSO and try to find other details.

Be mindful to focus on life-giving rather than life-draining things. One way to shift your focus is to step into serving. Join CedarCreek and the Tabernacle for Serve Day on July 17 to serve in our community. There are so many activities going on: block parties, landscaping, painting, prayer, food prep, etc. Go to cedarcreek.tv/serveday to see how you can help.

Prayer:
Father God, my focus is so often away from you. Help me to look toward you and toward your beautiful plan for my life. I know that you have a rich and satisfying future for me. Thank you for sending Jesus to forgive all of my sins. 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.


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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


If Only … – Bad Girls of the Bible

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We have all said the two little words, “if only,” at some point, and when spoken, they have most likely been accompanied by some level of pain or shame. We talked about these two words this weekend.

As I think back over my life, I have no problem thinking of several different ways to end the sentence, “If only ….”  Most likely, you can easily complete the sentence too because we all have regrets—feelings of wishing we’d done something different.

Often, our regrets are from something we did that we wished we hadn’t. But they also form out of not doing something that we wish we had. Either way, those “if only” thoughts that we all have are about missed opportunities, and they have a way of lingering in our minds and hearts. The ones that remain the longest are the ones that sting the most, and it’s that sting that can cause us to develop a deep desire to avoid experiencing regret again.

If we are not careful, our desire to avoid regret can lead to anxiety and stress. It can even paralyze us from making decisions and take away from the life that God has for us.

There are healthy ways to avoid regret, and learning from past mistakes is one of the best ways to do it. Of course, we can learn from our own mistakes, but we can also learn from the mistakes of others.

This weekend, we kicked off our new series, Bad Girls of the Bible. Throughout the series, we’ll be exploring some of the less-celebrated stories in Scripture to see what we can learn from them on how to lead lives filled with more joy and less regret. Over the next four days, we will be looking at Genesis 1-3 to learn from the story of the original bad girl, Eve.

Before we get any further, though, it is essential to know that God is bigger than your regret. If you have done something you wish you hadn’t, God knows what it is and still loves you. If you regret not doing something and believe you have missed out on a better life, know that God is in control, and he offers you a life full of purpose, meaning, and joy. We can rest in the truth that God redeems our sins, mistakes, and our missed opportunities.

Romans 8:28       
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.

Psalms 103:11-12 
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. 12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Questions:
How would you complete the sentence? “If only …”?

What do you do to avoid regret?

Next Steps:
Read Genesis 1-3 in preparation for this week’s LivingItOut, and ask God to help you learn from Eve’s sin.

Memorize the theme verses for this series:

Ephesians 5:16-17
16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

Prayer:
God, thank you that my “If only …” thoughts are not the end of the story. You can take anything I have done or any opportunity I have missed and redeem it. Today, I ask that you lead me to make the most of every opportunity. Help me focus on the truth and understand what you want me to do as I live out this week. 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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan