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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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