A Godly Foundation

Joshua 24:15
“… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

When we are armed with that belief system, we have a foundation that Jesus illustrates in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

Why do I do the things I do?

For the most part, I genuinely believe that my motive is rooted in my personal mission statement: Honor God.

I want to honor God with my words, actions, abilities, and resources. Do I do that perfectly everyday? Absolutely not! That is where I grow the most, though. You see, through God’s grace, if I honestly believe I could have done better, I am given an opportunity to learn and grow. Each experience grows me closer to God and makes me a better person.

For me, I have to fight to deny my selfish ambition. There are constantly attacks to do things that would temporarily satisfy me but not honor God. As an example, I’m writing this devotional. It would be just as easy to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. But the more I serve God, the more disciplined I become in my mission statement.

My friends, spiritual muscles don’t grow overnight. We have to work on our faith daily and verify our motives. I wholeheartedly love to help people. I will do anything for anybody. But I have to tell you, that spiritual ambition took time, and I had to build my belief system on a Godly foundation.

Using your gifts and abilities to honor God is not a natural response—it is a supernatural response. The more you apply proper motive to your words and actions, the more you’ll grow as a Christian.

Questions:
Whom do you serve and why? What motivates your thoughts and actions? How can you fight the temptation to ask: “What’s in it for me”?

Next Steps:
Take a step back and question your motives. Take that moment to get some clarity, connect with God, and ensure that what you’re doing has pure intention.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help us to grow in our ability to serve. Give us genuine hearts that seek to honor you with our abilities and resources. Help us to remember that you are always with us, and we can rely on your wisdom. Open our eyes to the opportunities, and give us willing hearts to serve. May we stand confidently, knowing you are using us to do amazing things for your glory. Amen.


This post was written by Mike Bilik. Mike is a father to 3 amazing daughters and one awesome son. Spare time is rare, but given the opportunity, you are likely to find him with friends hiking, hunting, or fishing.


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Goals!

I’ve set goals to concentrate on this summer: my faith, friends, family, and my health. I have found that defining these goals has provided me with some direction. It’s helped me be more intentional about staying connected.

I am taking advantage of Facebook Live prayer time, the daily LivingItOut Bible Study, and prayer and worship through online services to help me grow my faith. I have chosen to volunteer at a soup kitchen, offered to drive friends and family, and set aside time for fun and relaxation to meet my relationship goals. Relationships take time and energy, but it’s what we were created to do. My health is important to me as well—eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest requires planning. (Now there is a goal!)

I have found that I need to be careful to make sure I’m not missing out on one of my goals because I’m too focused on another. Goals can become like the “gods” that Joshua talks about. You have to be aware of how one affects the other. It’s all a balancing act—like the spinning plates that Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about. I have to constantly check my motives for my choices and actions and pray continually so that I am not making any one “goal” my “god.” There is only one true God. Joshua was right in deciding that he and his house would follow the Lord. I can’t imagine a life lived any other way.

Joshua 24:14 NIV (emphasis added)
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

When you know what is most important, it makes it easier to say “NO” to what isn’t. When everything is important, nothing is important. So let’s get rid of all the unnecessary … the distractions … the unimportant. THROW AWAY what is NOT MOST IMPORTANT!

Having a statement, or a rally cry, brings you back to what is important NOW.

Life gives us so many choices in a day! When we choose the words that reflect our values, those words help give clarity, connection, and calm. We hold on to what gives value and let go of what doesn’t.

Choose to serve God, throw away the unnecessary, and use your gifts to serve others!

Questions:
Are you disconnected and, therefore, disintegrating? What is your battle cry? What three words describe what is most important to you? Are your values integrated in your every day?

Next Steps:
Set some goals that will help you choose what matters most to you.  Decide what needs to be thrown away to accomplish those goals. Write it down, and share it with someone you trust.

Prayer:
Most holy and wonderful Father in heaven, thank you for this day. Thank you for the opportunity to get clarity on what matters most, to connect with other like-minded Christians, and opportunities to serve in your glorious name. Give us strength to stay focused on you as the world seems to spin out of control around us. Show us, Lord, how to bring light into a dark hour. In Jesus’ name, 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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The Choice Is Yours

Think about who you are at this moment and the choices you made to get here. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said we face up to 35,000 choices a day. Some of those decisions are as simple as whether you’re going to drink soda or water. Other choices are much harder. They determine what type of parent, friend, worker, or student you’re going to be. They make up the most significant moments of your life and help decide who you are. They have the potential to lead you down a variety of roads.

In Joshua’s statement to the Israelites, he was calling people to make a choice. He was saying choose today who you are going to serve. He was asking the Israelites to declare who they were which would determine what they would do.

Joshua 24:14-15 NIV (emphasis added)
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I think about some of the choices I have made over the years and the roads they’ve led me down. Unfortunately, the roadmap of life doesn’t always come with complete directions. Navigating alone is a dead end. I have faith that the one who created my map will get me to where I need to go. My wrong turns remind me that even when I don’t know where I am going, I know whom I chose to belong to and follow. And I know that I will never be completely lost.

Psalm 37:23-24
23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Do you need help navigating?

The choice is yours: Whom will you serve this day?

Questions:
Are you comfortable with who you are? Do you find it easier to make hard choices when your focus is on God? Do you search for your identity in God or in other people?

Next Steps:
Pray about the decisions you need to make in your life. Choose specific words and goals that define you as an individual and family. Choose to show everyone who you are in God.

If you haven’t done so yet, make a choice to follow Christ. If you have questions or want to know what your next step is, reach out and connect with us at CedarCreek.tv or download our app.

Prayer:
God, thank you for giving us a choice to serve you. Our faith is stronger because it was never forced. Continue to lead us as we grow in who we are as individuals in Christ. Thank you for reminding us of your promises. May we use our faith to share your love, as you have graciously shared it with us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


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


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Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

This past weekend, we looked at how words put together in a simple statement can provide you clarity, connection, and calm.

We read in the Bible that Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land, had a statement that he used to bring clarity, connection, and calm to the Israelites when they found themselves drifting from God. We find it in Joshua 24.

Joshua 24:14 (emphasis added)
Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

In this powerful statement, Joshua was saying, “This is what we are about!”

Words are powerful, and when we make a declaration about who we are and what we are going to do, it provides us with clarity, connection, and calm. Over the next few days, we are going to look at a few of the key elements of Joshua’s statement and apply them to our lives.

In their message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder and his wife, Lauren, talked about how they had spent some time with their four kids developing a list of values that were important to them as a family unit. They invited us to do the same.

The idea can be kind of intimidating, so it might help to develop a list of words to start. You can easily Google “values” or “core values” to jump-start your process. As a family, a couple, or a single person with your CedarCreek Group or friends, list the values that are most important to each of you. Further discuss those values to bring clarity and connection as you listen to each other explain the reasoning behind your individual choices. It really brings wonderful insight and opportunity for deep and heartfelt discussion. You might learn something about the people you do life with! Eventually settle on the top three or four words you and your unit value most.

I tend to land on gratitude, generosity, faith, and integrity. In my family, I am grateful for the loving relationships that I have. I try to be generous with my time and my possessions. I desire to live as a follower of Jesus, and to let people know about my faith in him. And I strive to let my “yes be yes” and my “no be no” (Matthew 5:37), so people can depend on me to do what I say I will do. When things get a little chaotic and upside down, I can fall back on these values to guide my responses. This brings me a great sense of calm because I know how I want to respond.

Once you have defined what you value, you can move on to developing a purpose or mission statement that incorporates these values. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life said, “Fulfilling your life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God’s glory.” Do a little self-discovery work and figure out what your mission is! It will bring glory to God and clarity, connection, and calm to you and your family.

Questions:
Have you taken steps to define your core values? Can you limit them to three or four with your family or group? How might they help you construct a mission statement for you and your group?

Next Steps:
Spend some time praying about the values you have identified. Ask God how he wants to use those values in your life, and how they can bring glory to him. Incorporate them into a couple of sentences that say, “This is what we are about!”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that you have designed each one of us uniquely. You have put us into the groups of people we find ourselves in now, with a purpose that only we can fulfill. As we spend time finding out how you have wired us, please give us wisdom to know how to use our gifts to further your kingdom. We want to complete the mission you’ve created us for, knowing that it will bring glory to you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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The Power of a Moment

If there is one thing COVID-19 has taught me, it’s that in-person relationships matter. As an introvert, the idea of staying home alone for an extended period of time is appealing. However, as an introverted mom of five children, ages 2-9, there is no such thing as “alone time.” Someone always needs me, and they will channel Indiana Jones to find me no matter where I hide.

Personally, COVID-19 isolation resulted in none of the connection I craved (long talks with friends and family) and all of the connection that I often feel like I need a break from (10 little hands all wanting to touch me—and my love language is not physical touch). I found myself just wanting to escape to pick-up groceries. Yet I was emptied of the life-giving connections my dear friends provided on a weekly basis. I used social media as an attempt to bridge the gap, but when it comes down to it, we all need a person to touch and an ear to listen. My soul was revived when I was able to reunite with my friends, and my children felt the same way when they were reunited with their friends.

We all need to feel like we matter and that someone wants to hear us and be with us.

When I stop and think about how empty my soul felt when I was taken from my core group of friends, I was conflicted: What am I telling my children when I want them to stop touching me? When I need time away from their needy hands? When I need to accomplish this one more thing before I can read a story or push them on the swing? Am I looking out for their interests first, or am I being selfish? Granted, there are times when dinner must be made or someone else’s needs take priority, but are the constant touches, whines, and requests a sign that I am ignoring the greater need?

Philippians 2:4
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Our lives are full of interruptions. If you do not have children, there are the needs from extended family members or work that seem to always be tugging us away from what we would prefer to be doing. Jesus never viewed those around him as interruptions. They were his mission. When I think about many of his miracles, they happened while he was on his way to do something else.

Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow spoke about the woman who was suffering from years of bleeding. She was not the person Jesus was on his way to minister to, but when she came into his path, he connected with her and brought her healing. Jesus healed a blind man, a demon-possessed child, and a man with leprosy in much the same way. They sought him out, and he willingly allowed them to “interrupt” his day.

The people God puts in our lives are not the “interruption,” they are the ministry—your purpose. So next time you find yourself being interrupted from your “work,” stop to look at the person God has placed in your life as your ministry and your true work.

Questions:
How is your attitude when you are interrupted by another person’s needs while you are working? Do you gladly connect with them or grudgingly comply with their requests? Do you view the interruptions of some people (your peers, employer, “important people”) with more grace than others (children, family, etc.)?

Next Steps:
This week, make an effort to connect with those God has placed in your life. If you have children, make time to read a story or play with them. If you do not have children, think of someone who is important to you and make an effort to meet with them on their terms.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for never looking at me as an interruption. Thank you for always viewing the people in front of you as your mission and purpose. Thank you that you served the lowly and “unimportant” over those the world valued more highly. Give me eyes to see those you put in my path as my ministry and purpose. Help me make connections with others so they feel heard, seen, and loved. Thank you for seeing me even though I do not deserve your love or attention. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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Pass it on!

During the weekend message, Perrysburg campus Pastor Josh Whitlow talked about how moments of insight can deliver realizations and transformations.

A timely summer example is:

Preamble to the U.S. Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, driving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Amazingly, 244 years ago, these words formed a nation without any social media or 24-hour news. Written by wise men, but left to interpretation, this declaration started a journey that we are still perfecting today. Still fighting about. Still fighting for.

In comparison to other nations, we are young children, growing, learning, and hopefully working together. Many of our founding fathers listened to their fellow colonists and sought guidance in forming our transformational government. Perhaps they read:

Proverbs 1:5 (NIV)          
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.

The wise are always learning and recognizing their need to be better. What are ways that we can learn? Podcasts, books, listening to past messages, reading the Bible and memorizing verses. All of the above are great learning tools. But for me, I need to stick my finger in it, get my hands dirty, and feel the dirt of the road on my bare feet.

On our recent family beach vacation, we enjoyed both teaching and learning with our four grandsons. Our youngest grandson, who will be one later this summer, spent time putting sand in his mouth and tasting seawater, something we adults tried to teach him not to do. By the end of the week, I think he was figuring out that if he put sand in his mouth, he got something better to eat! My 2-year-old grandson loved to scare the adults by fearlessly running into the waves. He repeatedly got knocked down but kept getting up and trying again, which is something we all could learn from. My second oldest grandson enjoyed tossing a frisbee; this was something new to him. He also dug numerous holes in the sand only to see them repeatedly erased by the waves! To our surprise, he continued to dig. And he excitedly learned about God’s beach creatures, especially loggerhead turtles! My oldest grandson loved jumping over the waves, flying kites, riding bikes with his dad, and playing beach golf with his grandfather.

All four grandchildren found the beach a treasure! All of the adults enjoyed the time together strengthening our family bonds. Everyone found experiences to learn and grow from. I hope our children and grandchildren will fondly share these family memories with our great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren one day.

One of my favorite moments each night was when we prayed before dinner, and the older grandsons would beg to lead us in prayer. On our last night, we went around the table sharing what we were thankful for—it was beautiful to realize how truly blessed we are!

2 Timothy 2:2
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.

As you learn and grow, pass it on, remember that moments of insight deliver realizations and transformations. Everyone has room to grow and we can learn from each other.

Questions:
Are you a lifelong learner? What are you learning now? How and from whom are you learning?

Next Steps:
Pass on what you have learned, teaching others so that they may do the same.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for teaching me and helping me to teach others to be lifelong learners. Thank you for our blessings. Teach us to pray for our country and our children, making it a better place to live. 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 four grandsons.


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Hemming Moments

During the weekend message, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow mentioned life is better when you can create meaningful moments for others and that every memorable moment is EPIC (Elevation, Pride, Insight, Connection).

Luke 8 recounts Jesus walking through a crowd of people on his way to heal Jarius’ sick daughter. At some point, a woman sneaks up behind Jesus and touches the hem of his garment, and he takes time to minister to her.

Luke 8:46-48
But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

He stopped in the crowd having “realized that power had gone out from him” (Mark 5:30). Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “Who touched me?” The disciples must have thought it was a ridiculous question. The crowd was so big and everyone was crowding around Jesus, so they were probably thinking, “Who hasn’t touched you?”

Through faith, the woman believed that simply touching the hem of Jesus’ garment would heal her. Scripture records that “immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering” (Mark 5:29).

After being told to identify herself, the woman fell at his feet, grateful for his touch, yet fearful of his rejection. Jesus said, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.” Jesus purposefully used this incident as a connection to create a meaningful moment in the life of an outcast woman, to touch her soul. She must have felt cut off from God, and doctors offered no hope for her bleeding condition of 12 years. Jesus wasn’t about to let this woman just get lost in the crowd.

As Josh mentioned, Jesus knew someone had reached out to him in faith, and he wanted to come face-to-face with her. He wasn’t angry—he elevated the moment by accepting her with God’s peace. He wanted this woman to know that he saw her for who she truly was. He exposed her to the crowd to remove the terrible burden of “uncleanliness” that would have been associated with her illness during that time. He calls her “daughter” to not only restore her own self-esteem but also her standing in the community. He clarified, “your faith has made you well,” so that the healing would not be considered magic or superstition. Because of the woman’s unwavering faith, God worked through Jesus to heal her.

Questions:
While in the crowd, Jesus recognized the woman’s faith and called attention to it. He was letting others know that he accepted and loved her. The crowd didn’t think much of her, but he did. Through this he created a moment in her life that she could be proud of. When was the last time you created a “proud moment” for someone by recognizing something they did? Who can you create a proud moment for this week?

When it comes to this woman’s faith, what can we learn from her? Do you have the nerve to push your way to Jesus the way this woman did? How would you assess the quality of your faith?

Next Steps:
Create a moment in someone else’s life that recognizes their accomplishments. Let someone know what you appreciate about them. Tell them why you admire their faith.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you are so patient with us. I pray that you would grow bold faith in me today. Bring me to the place where I will reach out for your promises with the same vigor as the sick woman in this story. Also, open my eyes to opportunities I have to lift someone else up in front of others the way Jesus did for this woman. Help me to create meaningful moments by honoring those around me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Gary Schnabel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Pump It Up

When I was a kid, somewhere around the late 80s and very early 90s, I remember seeing the commercial for Reebok Pump sneakers. You pumped the basketball “button” on the tongue of the shoe and it would make you run faster and jump higher! The kids in the ad looked as though they could fly—it was amazing! There’s just something about being “up,” being elevated, that makes us feel special.

But what does it mean to be truly elevated? By definition, it means to be above, to rise up.  How can we make moments rise?  How can we bring the feeling of “up” into our experiences, especially right now?

Let’s think about something—a moment—probably one of the shortest amounts of time, and yet some of the most important and defining things happen in a moment.

Psalms 139:16
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.

Our moments are so precious to God that he laid them out before the day was over. When my eldest daughter was born, everyone told my husband and me that time would fly by, it would feel like a moment. And it is most definitely true! So, to enjoy these moments together, we disconnect from the rest of the world. My husband and I put away our phones, no social media or Pinterest, no tablets or TVs. We sit and we laugh and play games. We make purposeful, mountain-top moments by just enjoying the moment.

Matthew 27:51 (emphasis added)
At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom …

God only needs a moment to make a lasting and incredible impact, and that is all we need as well.

John 2:1-11 tells the story of how Jesus turned water into wine. In one moment, he was able to make a complete transformation that elevated the situation.

We all have an opportunity to create moments of elevation for those around us. This week, help create a peak moment for your spouse, friend, child, or coworker. Do something for them that makes an ordinary moment in the day feel special. Surprise your family this Saturday with a daytrip somewhere special. Say, “Yes” to your child when they ask for a second cookie. Buy lunch for a coworker. These may seem like small gestures, but they can go a long way in letting others know that they matter to God, and to you.

Questions:
How can I elevate the moments in my life? What things, people, or situations can I give more thought and time to in order create an elevated and meaningful moment? How can I let God get the glory in all of my moments?

Next Steps:
Take time to think about what kind of intentional moments you would like to have. Make plans that will allow for moments of elevation in spirit, mood, and relationships, and then capture those moments to build a collection of treasured memories.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for all of the moments! Help me to be purposeful in how I use my moments, and teach me how to capture and nourish each one. Thank you for giving me the ability to recognize you in the midst of my every day, and help me know when to take the time to enjoy what you have given me! In Jesus’ name, amen!


This post was written by TreVe Carter. TreVe is a housewife. She loves taking care of her two daughters and Mother. When’s she is not beating her husband in Jeopardy, she serves at Cedar Creek on Brew Crew. She loves Jesus. She also loves to cook and bake and one day would love to compete on the Holiday Baking Championship.


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Meaningful Moments

Think of a time when someone created a special moment for you. What did the moment entail? How did it make you feel? What made it special?

I’m blessed because creating meaningful moments is my husband, Kevin’s specialty. In April, I celebrated a “Quarantine Birthday” (like so many of us), but that didn’t stop Kevin from making it special. We celebrated with a big breakfast (another one of his specialties), balloons all over the family room floor, a birthday tiara, colorful streamers and signs, delicious takeout for dinner, and ended the night with a piñata! A piñata—HOW FUN! All of those extra details created a meaningful moment.

This weekend, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow shared that life is better when you create meaningful moments for others. When we do that, we realize that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). For Kevin to use his gifts to bless others (in this case me), he in turn is blessed. One of Kevin’s spiritual gifts (and love languages) is the gift of service, and he can often be seen using this gift to serve others.

The Bible encourages us in 1 Peter 4:10: “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” When thinking of others, Paul also encourages us to outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10). Finally, we are encouraged to not “forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God” (Hebrews 13:16).

When we focus on the good of others, our actions show that we consider others as more important than ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Verse 4 of that same chapter states, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” God’s design for us is to love HIM first and love others next. We can do that by creating meaningful moments for those around us.

This week, we will talk about how to do this through elevation, pride, insight, and connection. I hope you’ll continue to join us!

Questions:
How has someone blessed you with a meaningful moment? What are some ways you can create a meaningful moment for someone this week?

Next Steps:
Pause and look beyond yourself. Instead of thinking what others can do for you, think and pray about how you can be a blessing to someone else this week.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the example of Jesus who loved others so well because he put them first. Help me to be more like Jesus and put others’ interests before my own. Help me to be a blessing to someone this week and to create a meaningful moment in their life. Use my gifts, talents, abilities, and resources not only for my own good but for the good of others. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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The Dust of the Rabbi

Matthew 4:18-22
18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind.

Have you ever really considered these verses? Have you ever really thought about this invitation, and what it meant 2,000-plus years ago in the northern region of Israel that surrounded the Sea of Galilee?

These two groups of brothers were working in their families’ businesses, which is what Jewish boys often did when school wasn’t an option. Their fishing businesses provided both food and money to buy things they couldn’t provide for themselves. It was probably how their families had lived for generations.

Apparently, these boys weren’t that good at it because in Luke Chapter 5:5, it says that when Jesus came along, they had fished all night and not caught anything! Still, this guy Jesus, whom they may have heard about from their cousins the Zebedees when they were hanging around with John the Baptizer, made them an offer, and they dropped everything to follow him. James and John did the same!

They left everything! Their businesses, their families, their synagogue, and their communities. They left it all and walked into the unknown, an adventure that we still read about today!

They knew a little bit about what it was to follow a rabbi. There was a saying that a disciple “was to be covered by the dust of his rabbi.” This meant the disciple followed the rabbi so closely and imitated him so thoroughly that they were covered by the dust as the rabbi’s sandals stirred up the dirt. The disciple lived as the rabbi did, emulated his behavior, and sat under his wise teaching. But Jesus chose these brothers to be fishers of men. What a curious invitation!

Still they gave up convenience, comfort, and control to follow him, and what an adventure they had! Imagine following Jesus as he spoke the parables, healed the sick, cast out demons, and taught them how to pray and to trust in him and his Father. For three years, they followed him, and then one horrible day, the dream was over.

Who were they now, since their rabbi was gone, dead on a Roman cross? All that they had come to believe about him died that dark afternoon. Sunday changed all that when the risen Jesus appeared to the disciples, but John’s gospel says they returned to the Sea of Galilee and took up their old occupation (with the same dismal results). Jesus helped them out once more and then gave them their next job!

The adventure, along with the discomfort, inconvenience, and lack of control, continued! Through their efforts and God’s grace, over the next thirty to forty years, the greatest movement the world has ever known was born and nurtured: the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Questions:
What breaks your heart? Are you willing to be inconvenienced, uncomfortable, or out of control to begin to change it?

Next Steps:
When you find the thing that breaks your heart, pray about what God would have you do about it. Research the problem, and find a way you can begin to make a change. Think about this quote from Edward Everett Hale, “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting us on this great adventure of knowing and following you! Even though what you ask might be uncomfortable or inconvenient at times, I pray that you grant me the courage to obey the opportunities you place before me, that I might know you and love you more through them. I am only one, but still I can do something. By your will and power may the something I do grow your kingdom here on earth. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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.


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