For the Cause of Christ – Be You

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The Bible is a book full of people who epitomized what it looks like to Be You—to use your gifts to serve the cause of Christ. All Christians are called to share the Good News of salvation that only comes through accepting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are also called to show God’s love through prayer and acts of kindness to those around us.

Many of you are asking, “How?” How do we, flawed and fearful “mere mortals,” use our time on earth to share God’s message and care for others, so they may also know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and live a life of deep meaning and grace?

Thankfully, the Bible is full of examples of people without obvious, outstanding abilities, who loved God and served him right where they were.

Ananias, a tent maker in Damascus, was visited by God and told to take a message to the infamous Christ-hater and persecutor, Saul of Tarsus. Ananias may have questioned God’s sanity because he reminded the Lord of Saul’s hatred toward Christians. The Lord then explained,

Acts 9:15-18
15 “…Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.

Later, God sent Paul (formerly called Saul) a dream of a man from Macedonia who was pleading for help, so Paul traveled to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). When he arrived, he met a wealthy and well-connected woman named Lydia, who was a high-end purveyor of rare purple fabric. Once she heard the salvation message from Paul, she became a follower of Jesus and assisted Paul and his missionary team in many ways (Acts 16:11-40).

And then there was Barnabas.

Acts 11:24-26
24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

If regular, everyday people like Ananias, Lydia, and Barnabas could do it, so can we. Yes, we’re flawed and have limitations and fears that hold us back, but we’ve also been given incredible, unique gifts and circumstances. Like them, we need to trust God, choose to step out of our comfort zones, and serve where God sends us to serve.

Be You—for the cause of Christ.

Questions:
What’s holding you back? Is it fear? Of what—failure, judgment, your limitations? Go with a servant’s heart and leave the outcome to the Lord.

Next Steps:
Sign up for and attend GrowthTrack at your CedarCreek campus. It is composed of four, free, 1-hour classes taught the first four Sundays of every month. You will learn who you are in Christ, identify your God-given gifts, and receive some suggestions on how to use those gifts to serve others.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for saving us from the cost of our sins and former rejection of your sovereignty over our lives. Please grant me the desire and opportunity to grow closer to you through Bible study, church attendance, and daily prayer. Help me to be curious about what adventures you have for me through my openness to serve you wherever you send me.  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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God’s Got This – Be You

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Although I was raised in the church since I was twelve years old, I mostly just went through the motions. To be honest, I never really read the Bible until the past few years. I believed it, I trusted its truth, but I just didn’t get it. I knew it was God’s story, but it seemed outdated, and I struggled to relate to all those people with unfamiliar names, using words and parables I didn’t understand.

But as I’ve committed to spending more time in his Word, I’ve come to realize that although the Bible is God’s story, it’s also our story. A story about ordinary people, using their unique gifts from God to make extraordinary impact. These people didn’t have it all figured out, but they followed God and left the rest up to him.

Acts 11:22-26
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

In Acts 11, we see Barnabas leaning into his spiritual gift of encouragement, and as a result, many people become Christ followers. Since Barnabas was human, I can only imagine he voiced some doubts: “What difference can I make? I’m just a regular guy. I’m no Moses or Abraham or Jacob or …”

But Barnabas chose to take a faithful step into what God was calling him toward, despite not having it all figured out. Because of his trust, he ended up making a tremendous impact on the early church.

Charles Stanley said, “Obey God and leave the consequences with him.” God does not ask us to meet certain metrics or goals or outcomes. He’s given us each a unique set of spiritual gifts, and all he asks is that we use it. He’ll take care of the rest.

Ephesians 3:20
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.

The Bible is the word of God. And it’s also a story about people. People who want to be in control. People who question God. People who feel unqualified. People who worry. People who are concerned that, even though he’s God, he just might be overlooking some important aspect of a situation.

Real people.

We may not have it all figured out, but God does. He gave us each unique gifts to use for his purpose. When we trust that he’s in control and allow him to work through us, there’s no need for us to worry about the outcome—God’s got this.

Questions:
Is there anything holding you back from using your spiritual gifts to do God’s work?

How can you move toward letting go of the need to have it figured out so that you can trust God with the outcomes?

Next Steps:
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, attend GrowthTrack to learn more about how God uniquely created you.

If you know your spiritual gifts, take some time to pray and meditate on them. Listen for what God might be calling you toward.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for making me uniquely me and for the spiritual gifts you’ve given me. I pray that I can use these gifts to make a difference for your Kingdom. Help me to let go of any control or fear or doubt that I am too ordinary to do your work. Help me to listen for your calling and to step in when I hear it, leaving the rest up to you. In your name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Ryan Leone. Ryan is grateful to help people experience Jesus through the written word. He and his wife Mia are Ohio natives who now live in Boulder, Colorado with their dog Bella. Ryan spends most of his time running trails through the Rocky Mountains, exploring God’s beautiful creation.


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Ordinary People Making an Extraordinary Difference – Be You

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One of the things I love about the Bible is that God used ordinary people, like you and me, to make an extraordinary impact on this world. The people in the Bible weren’t perfect—they had their own issues, and they frequently messed up. Yet they were willing to obey God and allow him to work through them. This gives me hope and encouragement that God can make a difference in this world through you and me.

God has given each of us spiritual gifts to help accomplish his plan. One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement. I love to support others, give them hope, and praise them. God often prompts me to send an encouraging text, give praise, or thank someone. It is amazing when we use our spiritual gifts—we shift the focus off ourselves to meet the needs of someone else.

Barnabas was an ordinary man from the Bible, who shared my gift of encouragement.

Acts 4:36a
For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).

Imagine how encouraging Barnabas must have been to receive that nickname. People who encourage others fill the rest of us with joy. They give us hope when we are struggling and strengthen our resolve when we need it most. They are often positive and upbeat, and bring out the best in us. They are people we want to be around.

Barnabas was able to see the best in others, and he played a pivotal role in the apostles’ acceptance of Saul into their ministry. Before Saul’s conversion, it was his mission to arrest and murder Christians. Naturally, they were afraid of him.

Acts 9:26-27
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the other believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on his way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

Barnabas had the courage to personally take Saul to the apostles and tell them how much he had changed. As a result, Saul went on to become a very influential apostle and lead many people to Christ. Barnabas continued to tell others about Jesus and encourage them in their faith (Acts 11:22-23).

Acts 11:24
Barnabas was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and strong in the faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

Barnabas was an ordinary man who used his spiritual gifts to make an extraordinary difference. What’s stopping you from using your gifts to make a mark in the world around you?

Questions:
What are your spiritual gifts? How are you using them? How do you feel about God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things? How are you using your gifts to make a difference?

Next Steps:
Complete GrowthTrack to learn your spiritual gifts. Join the DreamTeam or a Group.

Prayer:
God, I am overwhelmed that you love me so much. I often fall short, and yet you can still use me to accomplish great things. Help me to listen and obey your promptings. Fill me with your joy and peace, and help me to make a difference. 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.


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Ordinary People, Extraordinary God – Be You

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Growing up, my teachers and family members never failed to mention the stark contrast between my brother and me. He was naturally charming and energetic; I was more reflective and thoughtful. While he was never home because of his impressively jam-packed schedule, I would often sit in my room asking, “What is wrong with me?”

It was not until I grew in my faith that I learned that God gives each of us unique spiritual gifts that all work together for his glory. It is by no coincidence that God places us where we are in our lives—he meets each of us where we are and gives us opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those around us.

Psalm 139:13-16:
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

In this passage, the writer marvels at how elaborately and intricately God created each one of us. God knew every single nuance of our being, even before we were born! He knew our hair color, our personality types, and our passions and hobbies. He knew where we would be born, what our circumstances would look like, and which spiritual gifts would best suit us and those around us.

After many prayers of discernment, I was able to identify my spiritual gifts and live a life that allows me to make a lasting impact on the lives of those around me. I found that I was blessed with the gifts of encouragement, shepherding, and teaching. It finally became clear to me that, by tapping into the gifts that God gave me instead of trying to be someone else, I could use my gifts to their full potential—and make my mark on the Kingdom of God.

Instead of listening to the little voices in the back of my head telling me what I “should” be, I chose to intentionally live the way that God created me to be. And that is my prayer for you.

Questions:
What gifts has God given you in your own life? How can you use them to show others the love of Jesus?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack to find the specific spiritual gifts that God has given you.

Read the story of Barnabas (Acts 13-15) this week. Discuss how God used Barnabas, an ordinary person, to make an extraordinary impact on the Kingdom of God.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for creating each one of us with unique gifts and a purpose. You knew my purpose long before I was even born, and you have a plan for my life. Help me to discern and develop my spiritual gifts so I can use them for your glory. Please help me fight against comparison and insecurity. Instead, make me firmly planted and secure in your promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer, a first-time contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Make Your Mark – Be You

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Do you want to make a difference with your life?

I’d venture to guess most people would answer “yes!” to this question.  Now, let me ask you another…

Do you feel like you are making a difference with your life?

I think many of us feel like we aren’t living impactful lives, because we aren’t doing “big things” to make a mark on the world. However, over the past four weeks in our Be You series, we’ve been exploring how ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.

I recently watched a documentary called Free Burma Rangers about a humanitarian group started by a man named Dave Eubank. Using his God-given gifts, along with the skills and expertise he had developed as a special forces officer, God used Eubank to establish an organization to provide help, hope, and love to the ethnic groups oppressed by the Burmese government.

While I found the efforts of the organization impressive, I was really inspired by Eubank’s incredible faith. He didn’t set out to create FBR. In fact, his original goal was to help just one person, thinking “I’ll help one person, and they’ll be glad and I’ll be glad.” Eubank stepped into what God called him to, and God grew things from there. At times, he and his team found themselves in risky, life-threatening situations, and Eubank would think, “No way, Lord, this is crazy!” But then, feeling a prompting to obey, he stepped out in faith to do what seemed impossible. Not that there wasn’t tragedy sometimes, but Eubank offered what he had, obeyed God, and trusted him with the consequences. In the process, he made a mark with many people coming to faith.

We see this same strong faith in Barnabas in the book of Acts.

Acts 11:24
Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder unpacked how Barnabas (aka Son of Encouragement) served God with what he had and made his mark. Whether it was donating money from a real estate deal (Acts 4:36-37), encouraging others to trust Paul after his incredible conversion (Acts 9:27), or building up and teaching the early Christians (Acts 11:26), Barnabas was faithful.

Although much of what he did may seem mundane, Barnabas made a mark in this world and was remembered in Scripture for bringing many people to the Lord. What he did wasn’t glamorous, but he faithfully offered God what he had, obeyed and trusted God with the consequences and, ultimately, made a mark in the lives of others.

Continue reading this week as we unpack how Barnabas made his mark and learn how you can too.

Questions:
What is something you want to be remembered for?

What is a passion you have that you could share with others?

What is one area in which you could obey God and trust him with the consequences?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack if you haven’t already. If you have, review your spiritual gifts and consider how you can step into using your personality, place, and passions to share the life-changing adventure of Jesus with others.

Pray about leading a Group this summer! A Group is a great way to share your passion with others and introduce people to Jesus and the life-changing adventure with him. Attend Group Leader training to learn more about leading a Group.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for all of the unique ways you have equipped me to share your love with others. I am not always as quick as I should be to step into these opportunities. Help me be bold for you, Lord, and spread your love to others right where I am. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kelly Pagel, the Director of the LivingItOut.


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The Impact – Be You

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I remember when my kids were younger, around 2002, an event called “Impact” came to their elementary school. It was a performance of rollerbladers, BMX bike riders, and skateboarders. The show was phenomenal and really impressed the kids!

The performers were just kids who wanted to tell other kids their stories about the “Impact” God had on their life! And although their stunts were amazing, it was their testimonials for Christ that made a lasting impact. I know of at least two kids from that class who became pastors, and others are in the field doing God’s work. That particular, seemingly small, intersection went on to create a legacy with those kids, now adults, impacting lives for Jesus.

Lydia’s story is also one of continued legacy. There wasn’t just impact in that one moment, but this intersection created a ripple effect for the future.

Philippians 4:15
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.

Philippians 4:22
And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.

Remember, Lydia was a dealer in fine purple cloth, which was rare and expensive. This got her an audience with the more affluent people of her community. I imagine she had lots of friends and clients in high places, and many opportunities to share her beliefs. (Followers cannot help but share the love of Christ with others when given the chance!) As she amassed wealth from selling her cloth, she was able to provide for the needs of Paul and the others.

As a public-school teacher, I’ve had opportunities to serve and to share the love that Jesus so freely shares with me. There have been so many chapters and changes and adventures! Saying “yes” to God’s call in your life can be so exciting and invigorating!

Open your ears, heart, and hands and serve God where you are with what you have. Only God knows what might be possible if you open yourself to his intersections in your life.

Questions:
What gifts do you have that God can use? Who are the people in your life that you can influence for Christ?

Next Steps:
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, take GrowthTrack and find out. Sign up for a Group. Volunteer on the DreamTeam or for Serve Day. Keep trying new things until you find that place that brings you immeasurable joy!

Prayer:
Father, quiet my mind so I can hear from you. Help me to open my heart and trust you, Lord!  Give me faith as I open my hands. I am so blessed that you have invited me into the work that you are doing in this world! Protect me from the enemy who prowls and tries to stop me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep. Julie loves her husband John and their combined five adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite activities are walking their two dogs and golfing. She loves sharing her faith and is grateful for the chance to be a LIO contributor.


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Receiver to Giver – Be You

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My younger sister, Mary, is in kindergarten, just learning how to read. The first time she tried, she stuttered out every sound, taking forever to figure out just a few words. Now, several months later, she can read a whole book, and with much less hesitation. I love watching her progress, seeing her learn to love stories!

The Book of Acts (the acts of the apostles) follows stories of the first church leaders. One was Paul, the first Christian to spread the Gospel by traveling. On a journey to Greece, Paul stopped in Philippi, where he spoke with some women gathered by the river.

Acts 16:14
One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

Far from her home, Lydia was likely either a young widowed mother or a single woman. Either way, it would not have been easy for a woman to live without a husband or relatives nearby. She poured her work into selling purple cloth, which was very challenging to make. Yet, when Paul came to the river, Lydia listened.

Lydia already worshiped God, but she didn’t have a personal relationship with him. Lydia had never been told the Good News about Jesus until Paul shared it with her.

Acts 16:15
She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Acts 16:40
When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

Hearing the Good News about Jesus changed Lydia’s life. She went from just worshiping God to having a personal, everlasting relationship with him. It didn’t stop there. Lydia’s household was baptized alongside her, and she repeatedly opened her home to Paul and the other apostles. Lydia received Jesus’ love—and she wanted others to have it too—so she gave her home and her time to them.

My sister, Mary, is now learning to write her own stories. She has gone from reading books to creating her own, from passively enjoying a story to actively making a story for others to find joy in. This is the adventure God called Lydia into, and it is the one he invites us into as well. God says, “Come, beloved, join me in loving others!”

Questions:
What limitations do you believe prevent you from opening up to God’s invitation? How can you open yourself up to him? Where is God calling you to stop being passive and take a step on his adventure?

Next Steps:
Pay attention to where God is calling you. Attend GrowthTrack or join the DreamTeam. Find someone to pray for or extend an invitation to church. Before rolling out of bed, waking up your kids, walking into work, or going up to the cashier—ask God to show you how to demonstrate his love.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for choosing to use ordinary people, like me. I have no qualifications or degrees in the work you do, yet you have chosen me anyway. What an honor and a gift! Please, keep me open to your call. Open my eyes to the work you do in, around, and through me. Your love is so incredible—I get to both receive and give it! 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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God’s Open-Door Policy – Be You

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I shy away from attention, which has caused me to miss out from time to time. If it ever seemed like the lights were too bright, I would close myself off in the dark. It’s something I’m working on.

Last month, I received an email about a potential press opportunity for my writing. The attention that could be gained from it was something I didn’t want. The old me would’ve deleted the message without responding, but I chose to think and pray about the offer. My wife didn’t even know about the email because, as I mentioned to her, if I would have told her, she would’ve pushed me when I didn’t want to be moved—and “no” would’ve been my final answer.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about being open to challenges, trusting God, and using our unique gifts. I prayed about that email and was reminded of another prayer I made in August 2019: I wanted to use my gift of writing however I could, and I promised to be patient while I waited for opportunities.

I accepted the press opportunity that was offered to me, and it opened another door and another door and another. Everything is unexpected, but it’s not by accident.

Last year, I was asked if I had ever thought of doing public speaking. “I’ll never do something like that,” I said. This past week, I was one of two writers (one from the US and one from the UK) on a panel for a company that employs 750 writers. I spoke on and off for over an hour, live, with guests from California to South Africa and everywhere in-between.

All of that was made possible because I willingly opened myself to a challenge and trusted God with the outcome.

Questions:
What stops you from choosing to be open to challenges? What gifts from God are you letting fade away?

Next Steps:
Pray about the things that keep you from being more open. Take GrowthTrack to learn about your spiritual gifts, then join the DreamTeam and volunteer in your community to open yourself up to how God wants to use you.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me to discover my spiritual gifts and encourage others to do the same, so that we can all move toward living lives of purpose. I know that God has gifted me to bring glory to his kingdom. Help me to communicate his truth with wisdom and intuition in fresh ways—and not be afraid to color outside the lines when necessary. 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.


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Compounding Intersections – Be You

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During the weekend message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about compounding intersections—the “coincidences,” opportunities, and interactions that can have a huge impact on our future if we’re open to them.

In Acts 16, we see Paul lean into some of those intersections as he travels to Macedonia and has a conversation with a unique and unlikely person who ends up helping him make a difference for Christ. If you missed the weekend message, watch it online to hear that story. Right now, I’d like to talk a little about my story. Please stick with me—there’s a point to all of this, I swear.

I’m in a great season of life right now. Yes, I’ve had some deeply challenging seasons in the past few years, and I’m sure I will have challenging seasons in the future. But here, now, I’m living a life I love.

Here’s a snapshot of it: I own a house that truly feels like home, where I live with my best friend/roommate and our two cats. I love my job at the church, where I get to use the way God’s wired me to fill a need, working for a mission I care about. I have an amazing support system of family and friends.

It’s an imperfect life, certainly, but also a deeply fulfilling one. Some days it’s hard to imagine living any differently—this just feels so natural. But honestly, when you dig deeper, it’s pretty unusual.

Owning a house of my own, as a single, 20-something woman, isn’t normal—nor is it that common to buy a house with the intention of having roommates. It’s just what I felt called to do.

My roommate is not from Toledo—she’s from a small farming community outside of Columbus, with a nursing degree from Case Western in Cleveland. We became friends while getting our Bachelor’s Degrees at a tiny, Christian liberal arts college in Indiana. We were in different majors and probably wouldn’t have ever gotten to know each other if not for the fact we both studied abroad in Ireland during our freshman years.

The job I love so much, I never intended to have—I wanted to work in publishing. But when I was struggling to find a job in my desired field, I applied to CedarCreek’s internship program (kind of on a whim—I even said in my application that I wasn’t sure I’d be a good fit). A year later, I was praying they’d offer me an apprenticeship because I loved the work I was doing; a year after that, I had a permanent position.

Many of the friends I spend the most time with right now are through a Group I joined about a year ago, led by a friend I met through the internship. Without that Group, I probably never would’ve gotten to know most of the people in it, and I’m so grateful that I have.

Sorry, that was a lot of rambling about me. Here’s my point: I would not be who I am or where I am, doing the work I get to do, surrounded by the people I get to do life with, if I hadn’t listened to God’s leading, leaned into the opportunities he gave me, and stayed open to the compounding intersections that resulted. It is my prayer for you that you would do the same—you have no idea where those intersections may lead, but God does.

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.

Questions:
What are the intersections God wants you to be open with right now?

What opportunities is God currently nudging you to lean into?

Next Steps:
Set aside time each day to pray and listen to where God might be guiding you to make a connection or make a difference.

Throughout your day, actively look for intersections God may want to use.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you use our lives to write powerful stories when we let you lead. Thank you for the unlikely connections that lead to lifelong friendships, the detours that lead to meaningful callings, and the painful phases that create powerful life change. Open our eyes to the areas in our lives you want to use to make a difference. May your will be done in us and through us.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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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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!


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Be Open to God’s Intersections – Be You

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Acts 16:9-15
9 That night Paul had a vision: A man from Macedonia in northern Greece was standing there, pleading with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 So we decided to leave for Macedonia at once, having concluded that God was calling us to preach the Good News there.
11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

How did you get to where you are today?

Did you set goals and do everything necessary to reach them to the best of your ability? Or, perhaps one or more hurts, habits, or hang-ups (either your own or others) got in your way and kept you from acting upon an opportunity that you feel could have changed your life for the better.

Everyone’s life includes some percentage of these opportunities, occurrences, and even unnoticed events that affect the outcomes of who we are and what we do. When piled up and weighed, they become what Lead Pastor Ben described in his weekend message as, “compounding intersections of your life.” He went on to say that every day of our lives, we interact with various people, in various places and for a plethora of reasons. The result is a “compounding effect” that creates outcomes we never saw coming.

Personally, my change of trajectory occurred at 22. I was still in college after five years—because I was having so much fun and making so much money as a bartender. My boss walked up to me and said, “I’m so disappointed in you. Why are you still here?” That question was the catalyst that, first, made me angry but, more importantly, made me see myself and my actions clearly.

I finally had the courage to make a big change. I graduated, moved to NYC, and earned an MBA. I moved on to an entirely different and better life, which included salvation, my husband of 30 years, and motherhood.

Pastor Ben continued unwrapping his message by explaining how the apostle Paul went from being a Christian-hating Jewish leader to a world-renown preacher of the gospel. Ben shared how Paul’s huge life-change came about and how he bravely went to places and people to preach the Good News. He trusted God versus trying to do it on his own, and went wherever God sent him.

Sometimes people received Paul’s message, but other times, he was beaten, arrested, and kicked out. While one experience is certainly preferred over the other, both offer compounding intersections of opportunity to share God’s love and the message of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Questions:
How did you get where you are today in your life, and how can you use your life to tell others about God’s love for them?

Are you afraid of sharing the gospel because you don’t know how it will be received? What can you do to get over that?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack to help find answers to those questions and to help you move into being the hands and feet of Christ to a world that is desperately lost and in need of him.

Join a DreamTeam at your CedarCreek campus to engage with other followers—your forever brothers and sisters in Christ—and serve God together. By doing so, you’ll grow deeper relationships with them.

Read your Bible every day, even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

Join a Group.  Summer session begins June 11th.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for the gifts of your love and your Son. Through his suffering and death on our behalf, he has given me access to eternity with you, who loves me most of all.  Please help me to be braver and to share your message of love better and more frequently. 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.


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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