Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – Bad Girls of the Bible

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Our guest speaker, Pastor Christine Sweeney, did an amazing job wrapping up our Bad Girls of the Bible series. The lyrics from Donna Summer’s song keep going off in my head, “Bad girls … Talkin’ ‘bout baaa-aaad girls, yeah.”

During the series, we’ve discussed several bad girls from the Bible:

  • Eve, who became so focused on the one thing God told her she couldn’t have, that she forgot about all of his blessings and provisions.
  • Jezebel, who was self-centered and would do anything to get what she wanted.
  • Delilah, who was a master manipulator and betrayed Samson for money.
  • Lot’s wife, who was so paralyzed in her past, that she missed out on the great future God was offering her.

It is really easy for me to look at the four women and shake my head in disgust. Unfortunately, I have to admit I have committed the same sins numerous times. I have been ungrateful, disobedient, self centered, manipulative, and stuck in the past.

In other words, at times I have made a real mess of my life and sinned greatly against God. So have you. We all have. I am ashamed to admit at times I have focused on what I think is best for me, instead of what God knows is best for me.

How do we change?

We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and remember how much he loves us and all he has done for us.

Christine ended this amazing series by focusing on this verse from Hebrews:

Hebrews 12:2 NIV
Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross …

We fix our eyes on Jesus. We realize that even though we have sinned against him, disobeyed him, and hurt him deeply, he still deeply loves us. He loves us so much that he left the magnificence of heaven to save us. He came down to earth, became a man to endure all that we endure, and yet, he never sinned. He suffered the agony and pain of the cross and rose from the dead to reconnect with God. We focus on all he has done for us. We know in our hearts he wants what is best for us, and we believe he is our Savior. We keep our eyes fixed on Jesus at all times, trusting his plan, obeying him, and praising him.

Questions:
How do you respond when things are not going the way you want? Which of the Bad Girls’ behavior do you struggle most with? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If not, why?

Next Steps:
Spend some time daily thanking God for all he has done for you. Pray, ask him for wisdom when you are struggling, and obey him. Surrender your past to him, looking forward to his glorious plan.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so overwhelmed by how much you love me. You are such an awesome God. You left the majesty of heaven and came to this earth as a servant to save me and reconnect me with God. I cannot imagine all the agony you must have suffered on the cross. Help me to trust that you have an amazing plan for my life, and give me the wisdom and desire to obey you. Remind me of all your blessings and provisions. Help me to always keep my eyes fixed on you, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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


Run!!! – Bad Girls of the Bible

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Last weekend, Pastor Christine Sweeney from The Tabernacle Church unwrapped the story of Lot’s wife and the importance of tearing off the chains that keep us from running toward all the blessings, life, and fellowship God wants us to have with him here and into eternity. So how do we keep from ending up like Lot’s wife, so fixated on her past and fearful of change that she was turned into a pillar of salt, never to receive the life God had designed for her?

First, ask yourself: “What is holding you back?”

Is it pain and resentment toward someone who did or said something so painful to you that you believe you have the right to hold a grudge against them? That you have permission to live in unforgiveness toward that person and not grant them the same forgiveness Jesus gave, and continues to give you, when you sin? Christine reminded us that in order to live forgiven and moving in the direction of the life-giving hope, kindness, and generosity of spirit God wants to bless his children with, he requires us to follow Jesus’ directions and example.

Mark 11:25 TPH
“And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults.”

Notice Jesus did not say, “if they apologize.” And very soon after he said that, as he hung in agony on the cross, he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing” (Luke 23:34).

Five years ago, I walked into my first Celebrate Recovery meeting at the Whitehouse Campus—all by myself—full of resentment and anger at someone. I knew there was “something wrong” with me. I had no idea what, but I knew it was holding me back from being who God wanted me to be. Through the weekly meetings and attending an in-depth 26-week Step Study (a Bible study using Jesus’ words from Beatitudes) to learn how to be freed from hurts, habits, and hangups, God changed my mind and brought me peace.

A major part of achieving that was to first acknowledge my own need for forgiveness. Then I needed to accept, for the sake of growing my relationship with God and living the life he wants for me, that I had to obey Luke 23:34. I had to forgive the person I was so angry at, and I also had to apologize to her for anything I may have said in anger.

The weight of carrying that heavy load of resentment and unforgiveness fell off of me, like a boulder rolling off a cliff. It was a life-changing moment. Only then was I able to let the fruit of the spirit grow in my life so that I could live in closer fellowship with the Lord.

If there is someone you just can’t forgive, please rethink that decision. Talk with a staff member at your  campus, your Group Leader,  or someone from Celebrate Recovery, and run for your life toward Christ.

Questions:
Are you holding bitterness in your heart, or thinking as you read this, “but you don’t know what happened to me …?”

Do you know what Jesus did to rescue you from “what happened to you” that made you a free child of God?

Next Steps:

Read some scripture verses on forgiveness and write them down.

Pray to our Lord and ask him to “take the sword from your hand” and give you the ability to let go of your anger and pain so that you can find peace and be a blessing to others.

Check out Celebrate Recovery and consider if it is the right next step for you. Seek out your campus pastor and/or a Celebrate Recovery meeting near you.

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for making it possible for me to be forgiven for my sins and to offer the same to others who also don’t deserve your love and forgiveness. I know that it is only possible because of your gift of salvation to all who are willing to call you Lord and Savior. Please, never let me forget how much I need forgiveness so that I remember to always offer it to others. It is in your 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.


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


Total Remodel – Bad Girls of the Bible

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Dishwashers are the unsung heroes of kitchen appliances.

Yes, you read that right. And no, I promise I’m not crazy.

A few years ago, my family completely redid our kitchen. Not just repainting the walls and installing a new light fixture, but a total gutting and re-making of the room. Cabinets ripped out, the tile floor broken to bits, the sink removed, and … I think you get the picture. During that time, we washed the dishes in the laundry room.

That’s when I decided that, no matter how much I thought I had disliked washing dishes before, it was far less miserable than when we were without a dishwasher or a sink in the kitchen.

Now with the kitchen beautifully completed, I look back and the time without a kitchen seems like a blip. But in the moment, it felt like remodeling the kitchen required more effort than it was worth.

Sometimes, I think that’s what it feels like when God is transforming us.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

This verse reveals that God changes us by shifting the way we think, sculpting our mindsets and thought patterns to mirror his truth. One tiny word in the verse sheds an important light on this process, however: let. We must let God transform us, trusting and surrendering as he grows us.

This weekend, Pastor Christine Sweeney unpacked the story of Lot’s wife and detailed how Lot’s family received warning of the coming destruction of Sodom, yet, still did nothing. Two simple verses struck me.

Genesis 19:16-17
16 When Lot still hesitated, the angels seized his hands and the hands of his wife and two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city, for the Lord was merciful. 17 When they were safely outside the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

When Lot and his family dallied, God’s angels pulled them to safety, toward God’s plan. Eventually, they stopped traveling with Lot’s family and gave them instructions for continuing. Lot’s family had been brought this far, and now, they had to let God lead them. As a good Father, God doesn’t force us to obey his callings, he invites us to.

Lot’s wife chose to ignore that invitation. She was too enamored with where she’d been to focus on what lay ahead. Whatever Sodom held, she prioritized it more and trusted herself more than she trusted God’s plan.

The same holds true for us. At times, we hold more tightly to who we were than to where God is leading us. It’s easy to fall back into old habits and our pre-Jesus mindsets. Change is uncomfortable.

But we have to keep our hearts open to God’s transformation in us, even when we think we’re making little progress. He takes our broken, sinful messes and weaves them into stories of grace, redemption, and love. He renovates the way we think, replacing the lies we rehearse with his truth. He rewires what we value—our own comfort, success, and pleasure—so that we hunger for more of him instead. It all starts with us letting him work in our lives.

Our God is in the business of total remodels, after all.

Questions:
What mindsets do you have that you think God is trying to transform?

Are you surrendering to that process?

Do you cling to your past so much that it prevents you from trusting God in the present?

Next Steps:
Identify the mindsets you need God to transform and repent.

Find Bible verses that speak to those issues and memorize them. Recite them to yourself throughout your day.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the way you transform my life. You don’t leave me where I’m at, but rather, lead me to becoming more like you. Please help me identify my mindsets that contradict your truth. Give me the courage to surrender them to you and let you transform them. The future you are leading me toward is far better than anything in my past. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Sarah Pagel, a regular contributor and editor or the LivingitOut.


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


Hold onto it Yourself, or Give it to God? – Bad Girls of the Bible

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Throughout my high school years, I struggled with worry. I held onto things instead of casting them aside, not trusting that if I cast my fear on God that he would carry it.

Pastor Christine Sweeney told us last weekend, “Preserving your past can paralyze your future.” Looking at my life, I know I was letting my relationships define me. This led me to make decisions I regret, miss out on opportunities, and left me feeling stuck. I felt like I wasn’t going to make it. I was constantly stressing about where the future was leading me.

God commands us to cast away all our anxiety. Our troubles aren’t meant for us to carry—we only buckle under their burden. Throw it away, release it, let it go! Give it to God to take care of.

I know when thoughts are swirling, when it feels like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, it can feel easier to hold on to your hurts, habits, and hangups than trust them to someone else. But God commands us to have faith and trust that he will provide for us. He will resolve the situation.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

He knows you. He cares about you. He knows your hurts, habits, and hangups. And he still loves you. Enough to be put on a cross to carry those burdens for you.

Questions:
What hurts, habits, or hangups do you need to release?

What are you worried about that you are not trusting God with?

What uncertain decision do you need to make to find freedom

Next Steps:
Trust in God’s promises, and pray in Jesus’ name when you feel worried.

I challenge you to take the next, uncertain step that is specific to you.

Prayer:
You are the God who makes it work. Sometimes, I hold onto things from my past. I let it define me instead of trusting you to care about me and provide what I need to work the situation out. I pray that I would cast out whatever is paralyzing my future. I release it to you, trusting that you know what is best. Please show me the uncertain decision I need to make to find freedom, and give me the faith I need to carry it through. I will wait on you, God, to find the freedom I need for my future. In Jesus’ name, 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:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Don’t Look Back! – Bad Girls of the Bible

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Over the weekend, we had the pleasure of hearing from guest speaker, Pastor Christine Sweeney from The Tabernacle Church. She wrapped up our series Bad Girls of the Bible with Lot’s wife. Unlike Eve, Jezebel, and Delilah, we do not even know her name.

The Bible has more written about her death than any other part of her life. But what we do know about her is that she was married to Lot, who was the nephew of the patriarch Abraham. In Genesis 12:1, the Lord told Abraham, “leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.” And so, Abraham obeyed the Lord’s request—he and his wife (Sarah) and Lot and his wife packed all their possessions and set out on this life-transforming adventure. They left their idols behind to follow the one true God, and he was faithful to them.

It is necessary to know where and what they left behind to better understand what would eventually set Lot’s wife up for her demise. They lived in the capital city of Ur in the region of Sumeria. This was a thriving community with many people, full of cultural and spiritual traditions.

Eventually, Lot and his wife parted company with his uncle, and they moved from the pastoral land to the city of Sodom. The Bible often describes Sodom as a sinful city known for its wickedness. In this city, there were likely elements of life that reminded Lot’s wife of her homeland, Ur. Perhaps, she welcomed this reconnection with her past as it seemed comfortable and familiar, leading her to immerse herself completely.

The outcry to the Lord about Sodom and its evil doings was so great that he sent two angels to warn Lot that he would be destroying the city completely. The angels told Lot to warn his other relatives in town, so he rushed out to tell his daughters’ fiancés, but they thought he was joking. The next morning, the angels were insistent that Lot hurry his family out of the city or they would be swept away during the destruction. After much resistance, the angels grabbed the hands of Lot, his wife, and his two daughters and rushed them to safety outside the city (Genesis 19:12-16).

Genesis 19:17
When they were safely out of the city, one of the angels ordered, “Run for your lives! And don’t look back or stop [emphasis added] anywhere in the valley! Escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away!”

Lot and his family were given their instructions by the angels—the outcome was in their hands. Unfortunately, Lot’s wife did not heed the angel’s warning.

Genesis 19:26
But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.

WHY did she turn around?

In Christine’s words, “She had been freed from the city, but she was still captive to her past.” Lot’s wife was disobedient to the word of the Lord, so she was forever preserved in salt. She lost out on the abundant life that God had planned for her.

Luke 17:33 NIV
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.

We need to use Lot’s wife’s mistake as an example of how to live our lives. We need to exchange our familiar, comfortable lives for the Lord’s plan which can be unfamiliar and scary.

Why? Because preserving the past can paralyze your future.

Questions:
Have you been freed from something but are still captive to the past? If so, how can you leave the past in the past?

Are you clinging to something powerless when you could be placing your trust in the Lord and the abundant life he has planned for you?

Next Steps:
Take an in-depth look at your current situation. Is your lifestyle like Lot’s wife? Are you living for earthly possessions? Or are you living open-handedly, ready to take what God is trying to give you? If you are ready to move forward and stop focusing on the past, let us know you’re ready to take a next step.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, open my eyes to the abundant life you have planned for me. Keep me looking forward and remove my desire to look back. Thank you for freeing me from my past and giving me a bright future. Thank you for the gift of salvation. In your son’s glorious name, I pray, 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.


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