Wired for Connection

Toledo was a dreadfully lonely place for me when I moved here for graduate school. I left a small, private Christian college where I had many close and life-giving relationships and moved to a place where I knew no one. I was three hours away from my family, and the only person I “knew” was an acquaintance from my undergrad who was in medical school and getting married. I had never felt so alone as I went to sleep in my apartment that first night.

Things got better when I started classes, but my new friends did not share my deepest convictions. My life was spent in class, working to support myself, and studying alone. I tried several area churches but never found a place where I belonged. In fact, I felt ignored. There are few things worse than being in a church and feeling ignored by everyone.

Finally, out of desperation, I went to CedarCreek with the mentality that, “If I’m going to be ignored, I’d rather be ignored in a big church.” Well, that was over 15 years ago, and I no longer feel alone. I met my husband, made some life-long friendships, and found a place where I can minister to others.

This weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder interviewed Darci Ault, a health and wellness professor from the University of Toledo. Darci said that our bodies are hardwired to handle stress, and one of the ways that it helps us is by creating a need for connecting with others. The longing for connection with God and others is exactly what we need in the midst of our struggles.

We see through Scripture that we were created to be in community:

Hebrews 10:24-25
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

Matthew 18:19-20
19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

The importance of connection in Christian community is threaded throughout the Old and New Testaments. When we are connected with other Christ-followers, we are able to encourage one another. When we struggle, we can confess our sins to one another and then pray for each other. In order to find freedom, we need rich connections with others.

We also need a meaningful connection with Jesus on a regular basis. In John 15, Jesus calls himself the “True Vine” and us the branches. Just as a branch cut from a tree withers and dies, so too will we wither and die if we are not connected with Jesus. In order to find freedom in our lives, we need authentic relationships with others and life-sustaining connection with Jesus on a regular basis.

Questions:
Do you have anyone in your life who is able to encourage you in your walk with Jesus? How is your connection with Jesus? Do you connect with him on a daily, weekly, or “as needed” basis? What could you do to make these connections more regular?

Next Steps:
Look up the following verses: Ephesians 2:22, Romans 12:4-5, 1 Timothy 3:15, Acts 2:46-47, Proverbs 18:25, 13:20, 17:17, 27:17. What do they say about relationships with others and/or with Jesus?

Consider joining a Group at CedarCreek. The directory is open and you can find a group that works for you today.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 19 – My freedom (Galatians 5:1)

Thank you, God, for freeing me! You have freed me from sin and

from shame. You have freed me from the law and from striving to earn salvation. You have freed me from death itself! For all those things and more, I praise you. Help me to live as someone who is free. Don’t let me fall back into the posture of a slave, to fall back into serving the things that used to control me. May you be the only one I serve, for you bought my freedom and loyalty at a high price on the cross. In gratitude I ask, may your will be done in my life. Amen

For Friday’s prayer focus for parents click here.

Day 20 – My growth (Ephesians 4:15)

Heavenly Father, I am not who I was before I met you—and it’s all because of you. Thank you for the growth I have been through, and thank you that you’re not finished with me yet! Teach me to be more and more like your Son every day. Help me to submit humbly to the situations you use to change my heart, even whenI wouldn’t choose these situations for myself. Above all else, may I grow in love for you and for others. In Jesus’ name I pray! Amen.

For Saturday’s prayer focus for parents click here.

Day 21 -Praising him (James 4:8)

Dear Father, I praise you for all you have done in my life and in my heart over these last 21 days. Thank you for drawing close to me and for leading me. Help me to continue growing and taking steps toward you throughout this year so that I might know you more and make a difference for you.

For Sunday’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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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Letting Go

I really love our current series, “The Struggle Is Real.” This week, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke about helpful ways to address the struggles we have in our lives. Sometimes, I do not deal well with the struggles in my life. I have a tendency to become anxious and worried when I am struggling. If I don’t immediately pray about my struggles and ask for God’s help, I will try to control the situation.

The need for control is one of my greatest weaknesses. Someday, I plan on writing a book titled, “I Am a Recovering Control Freak.” (Notice I said recovering, not recovered.) I find when I am trying to control the situation that I often create a lot of chaos. I waste time thinking of solutions. I get angry when people don’t do what I want them to do. Often, my controlling behavior aggravates the people I am trying to help. I become irritated, anxious, and exhausted. I lose all of my peace, hope, and joy. Luckily, I have learned to turn to Jesus for help, and he fills me with his grace.

2 Corinthians 12:9         
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

I love that verse. It reminds me that God is in control. He has a perfect plan, and I can trust him. He doesn’t need my help. When I surrender my weaknesses to him, he can do amazing things through me. I am so thankful his power works best in my weakness.

God is teaching me that when I start to feel anxious and worried, I need to take a deep breath and let go of my need for control. I need to admit my weaknesses to God and ask him for help. I need to trust and rely on him. Not myself. I don’t need to control the situation. I need to surrender all of my struggles to him, and let him fill me with his grace, hope, peace, and joy.

Questions:
How do you deal with your struggles? How often do you admit your weaknesses to God and ask him to help you? How do you feel when you allow God to work through your weaknesses? How can you experience God’s grace, hope, peace and joy during the struggles of life?

Next Steps:
Look up verses about dealing with your weaknesses and struggles. Write the verses on index cards and meditate on them. Next time you start to feel anxious meditate on those verses. Praise God for his grace.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 18 – Commitments to him (Psalm 37:5)

Heavenly Father, you are trustworthy. I know I can rely on you, so I commit everything I have and am to you. May I carry out your will in my actions. May I bind my thoughts and behavior to your path for my life. Help me to trust you in all that I do. Teach me to listen for your voice and obey your guidance. You are the source of my strength, and my help comes from you. In your Son’s name I pray! Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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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Yoke Up

We can lightly chuckle and say “The Struggle Is Real” when we pull a hangnail or deal with an annoyance at work, but sometimes, the struggle is all encompassing. The struggle, whatever that is in your life, can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders. It can take your breath away. An overwhelming feeling that drops tears on your pillow and makes you dread the morning alarm after only a few hours of sleep. It makes it almost impossible to put even one foot in front of the other. The. Struggle. Is. Real. But you do not have to struggle alone.

Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 (NIV), “Come to me, you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, I will give you rest.”  Jesus did not have a cakewalk while living on Earth. He knows the struggles that surround us. Those tears that drenched the pillow are collected by God (see Psalm 56:8) as he knows what we are facing, and more importantly, he cares (1 Peter 5:7). In Jesus, we can find rest and peace.

How can we find rest and peace in the midst of the most trying and draining struggle? Yoke up to Jesus. What does that even mean? In the sugarcane fields of the Dominican Republic, you can often see two oxen connected by a yoke (looks like a pole) to pull a ton of sugar cane in a wagon. Together they can carry a load that would be too difficult to carry alone. Jesus says to “take my yoke upon you … and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

While the tears pour on your pillow, cry out to Jesus. Let him share, or even carry, the load. He loves us so much, he went to the cross for us and is waiting to help when we cry out to him. He brings comfort and is our “refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) He also helps us grow where we are—even through the struggle—and helps us get what our SOULS need: rest and peace in him.

Questions:
What are your struggles? Are you carrying the burden on your own? Are you ready to let Jesus provide you the rest and peace you so desperately need?

Next Steps:
Cry out to the Lord with your struggle. Be painfully honest—he knows and cares. Journal your thoughts, feelings, worries, and emotions about the struggle. Pray for the help you need. (For an example, see David’s anguish in Psalm 13, especially vs. 5-6.) “Yoke up” to Jesus through prayer, journaling, worship, reading the Bible, and/or confiding in another Jesus follower to help bear the burden. Rest in HIM, because he cares for you.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 17 – My calling (1 Peter 2:9)

Dear Father, as a follower of Jesus, you have given me the right to be your child. You have set me apart and called me one of your chosen people. I can now show others your goodness and be a light to them in this dark world. Help me shine so others can see you. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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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Follow Me

When dealt a hand in any card game, there are many variables. The outcome of the game will depend on a combination of chance, fate, and fortune. There can also be of course some misfortune and hard luck. What you choose to do with the cards given to you makes all the difference. What you choose to do with what God has given to you in life makes all the difference  too.

As is demonstrated in Matthew Chapter 16, this weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke about how we want to hold on to our struggles, solve our own problems, and hang on to our lives, but Jesus tells us to do the opposite if we want to be saved:

Matthew 16:24-26 (added emphasis)
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

This was Jesus’ first mention of the word “cross” to his disciples. To them, it would have suggested a picture of a violent, degrading death. He was demanding total commitment and full surrender from them. As followers of Christ we need the courage to acknowledge the struggle, give up our ways, tendencies, and our control so we can connect with him.

As Ben Snyder taught us this weekend, to follow Jesus, we must give up control, take up our cross by acknowledging our struggle and need for the cross, and connect with him. We must pick up whatever burden has been allotted for us to carry without complaining.  When we take those steps, we stop living our lives for ourselves and begin letting Jesus live through us.

Galatians 2:20
My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Questions:
This weekend, we learned that to save our lives, we need to give up control, take up our cross by acknowledging our struggle and need for the cross, and follow Jesus by connecting with him. Read Matthew 16:24-25. Out of these three steps, which do you find the most difficult: give up, take up, or follow?

How are you connecting with Jesus on a daily basis?

Next Steps:
As you fast and pray, commit to memorize Scripture, tell God what you need, and remember to thank him for all he has done.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 16 – Listening to him (John 10:4)

Dear Father, I am so grateful to have you near me and guiding me with your voice, so that I may not stray from the path you have planned for me––the path that will keep me safe and bring me closer to you. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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


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Struggle? What struggle?

Welcome to Week 3 of “The Struggle is Real”! Did you ever have any doubt?

We want to recap by first establishing that we all struggle. And while the details of our struggles may be different the principles are the same.

  • We want what we don’t have.
  • We have what we don’t want.
  • We don’t want to do what we know we need to.

Case in point: A few years after our small group started, CedarCreek Church, founding Pastor Lee Powell asked me to quit my job with the police department and come to work for the church. I was so excited about what God was doing with our new church, I wanted to accept but it was clear to me that the timing wasn’t right.

God showed me that staying in my job was an invitation to meet him right where I was and  to prepare me for what his plans were for me. Now I won’t say that I was always happy about this decision, but it left me in a pretty fertile mission field, both inside the department and on the street.

James 1:2-4
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

I actually did come to see it as an opportunity for great (well, maybe not great) joy. For example, I led weekly bible studies during lunch time in the city offices and I organized and led National Day of Prayer services in the city council chambers, inviting area churches to unite and participate. My faith was tested as I honored the leadership of our department and our city, even when it was difficult. Three years later when God called, my husband and I knew it was time for me to leave the police department and go to work for CedarCreek.

I felt the time I had spent waiting on the Lord was spiritually well worth it! That time in my life has become an important part of my testimony when I talk about waiting on God. We can submit to his plan, even when we don’t understand why.

Questions:
When you hear the statement, “grow where you are to get where you want to go,” how do you feel? Are you willing to wait for God’s timing?

Next Steps:
Think of a time when you felt God telling you to wait on him. Share that, and how you responded to it, with a trusted Christian friend. Talk about what you might have done differently.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 15 – My relationships (Phililppians  2:3-4)

Dear Lord, please help me emulate you in all my relationships with others. Please help me humble myself and think of the needs of others before my own. Help me see how I can serve those around me. Please help me make others feel like they matter and let them know that they are not alone. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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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Who is in Control?

I’ve had plans
Shattered and broken
Things I have hoped in
Fall right through my hands
YOU have plans
To redeem and restore me
You’re behind and before me
Oh, help me believe
-Lyrics by Tenth Avenue North, “Control”

From as far back as I can remember, I have been on this impossible and exhausting quest to be worthy of someone’s love by doing good or being good. And so, I continually attempt to make choices that I think will make people proud of me in hopes of receiving praise and admiration.  Unfortunately, this behavior leads to a cycle of pride-driven happiness when we “succeed” in receiving praise and emotional misery when we “fail.”

Even now, as a believer in Christ, I long to be viewed as good enough to deserve the love of our Lord so that when I leave this world, I will hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23). But then I ask myself, doesn’t that mean my focus is still on works and not grace?

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

The struggle for approval from other people is real and exhausting and frustrating. But as Christians, we know that we can’t earn God’s favor through good behavior. It is inherent in our nature to sin—we will never be perfect—and we don’t have to be, because God’s love is unconditional.

The Good News is that for everyone who gets past their ego, pride, and “right” to be their own boss, there is eternal love, hope, and purpose born of accepting the grace, mercy, love, and sovereignty of our Lord over our lives. Give up your self-leadership, trust God, and surrender control to him.

The miracle of that transformation is beautifully illustrated by these Tenth Avenue North song lyrics from last Sunday’s service:

God you don’t need me
But somehow you want me
Oh, how you love me
Somehow that frees me
To take my hands off of my life
And the way it should go

So before discouragement stops you in your tracks as you fail, yet again, to be good enough,  put down your “rights”, ego, obsessions, and intentions, and put your life in God’s hands. The saying, “let go and let God” may be an old cliché but it’s also the way to end the struggles caused by a life without him.

Questions:
Have you given up the futile battle for self-control and turned it over to the one true God who loves you so much that he sent his only begotten Son to pay the cost of sin (death) in your place? If not, why not?

If you have, do you still struggle with trying to gain or maintain how your life goes and how others, or God, view you? Why?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t released yourself from the slavery of self-management, I encourage you to consider joining a CedarCreek Group Have authentic conversations about or struggles can help us find freedom and take steps in giving up control. Our Group Directory is open, check it out to find a Group that is right for you.

Above all, turn yourself over to God and seek living a life filled with God’s peace, profound purpose, and joy while you are here on earth, and then for eternity.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 12 – Living confidently (1 John 4:16-17)

Father in Heaven, thank you for loving me. I know I can trust you with all that I am, and I am confident in the salvation you have given me. Help me to abide in you to become more like your Son every day. Teach me to live like him, according to your will, working for your kingdom in all I do. May my love for you and others be perfected through your love for me.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 13 – Living obediently (Philippians 2:12-13)

Heavenly Father, thank you for working within me. I am in awe of the changes that you have already worked in my heart and of the changes you are currently making within me. I praise you for saving me by making salvation possible through your Son. Help me to share this gift with others by loving you and others and by obeying your will. Teach me to desire what you desire. I trust you to give me the power to do all that you ask of me. Amen.

Day 13’s  prayer focus for parents click here.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 14 – Worshiping him (John 4:23)

Dear Father, I worship you with all my heart and soul. I want to sing youur praises from early in the morning when the sun rises until late at night when the day has passed. I am so grateful to be allowed to be your child, and your love washes over me. Amen.

Day 14’s  prayer focus for parents click here.


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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Consequence Is No Coincidence

As a kid, I always attached a negative vibe to the word consequence. Television shows and movies made it seem like consequences were only the result of something you did wrong. However, consequences are, in fact, the result of any action. Any negative connotation comes from our own interpretation.

In Lead Pastor Ben Snyder’s most recent message, he said that we try to take control of the consequences, instead of trusting God with the outcome. What makes us think that we are that powerful? I can’t remember how many times I tried to control a situation that I was never prepared for in the first place. I failed to see that the preparation comes when we follow what was written out from the beginning. Too often, we try to find an error in the instructions, but the real error occurs from us not trusting God.

I mentioned to someone last week that new believers should be told that being saved doesn’t automatically make life easier. Obeying and trusting God will feel like an adventure. Ben said, “an adventure isn’t like the easy chair. It’s gonna feel bold, and it’s gonna feel risky. There’s going to be unexpected things that show up in your life.” Although none of us know what life is going to throw at us next, I feel safe knowing that God is there to guide me through the unexpected difficulties of life if I put my trust and faith in him.

Remember, we can’t control everything. No person is that powerful. Be confident in your faith, knowing that God controls the outcome.

Romans 8:11
11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Questions:
What stops you from obeying and trusting God? How can you learn how to let go of the things you can’t control? Are you putting your trust in the wrong people?

Next Steps:
Set daily goals and do the work to grow in your relationship with God. Share your faith and story with the people around you. Stop trying to find a purpose in life, and trust that God already has your purpose in mind.

Memorize The Struggle is Real’s  theme verse, Romans 8:11.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 11 – Loving fearlessly (1 John 4:18-19)

Our Lord and Savior, thank you for being a God of perfect love. Thank you for loving us first, before we accepted your salvation and before we even knew you, while we were still living in sin. Teach me to love as you love, without fear, without condemnation. Help me to offer grace to those around me, just as you first offered grace to me. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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


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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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What Is a Living Sacrifice?

One of the ways that we trust God is through worship. Worship isn’t only singing or praying. Worship is, or should be, our life. We worship God when we offer him our lives. The apostle Paul writes about this in his letter to the Romans:

Romans 12:1
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

As you think about what it might mean to “give your body” to God, it seems quite severe. A living sacrifice? Yikes! And yet, thinking about it further, when you fall in love with someone, don’t you want to do everything in your power to please them? You offer your all to that person and are willing to sacrifice anything, perhaps even yourself should it be necessary, for that person.

Our devotion to Jesus should be nothing less than that. Truthfully, it should be even more because our relationship with God should be our primary focus. Offering our obedience through the living sacrifice of our bodies makes sense in light of God’s amazing promises.  How can we do it? Verse 2 gives us further instruction:

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

As Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said this past weekend, we must decide to give God complete access to our lives. As humans, God has given us the ability to choose what we worship: him or the world. When we trust him, he begins his transformation of us from the inside out. Through our obedience and trust, God changes the way we think.  Since we are truly spiritual beings first, as our thinking changes, the results are seen both mentally and physically.

I want to offer God all my life and my love. Some days I do. Some days I don’t. But I know that God isn’t done with me yet, and I am confident that he who began a good work in me “will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

Questions:
Is it difficult for you to obey God? Why or why not? Does it help to think of your obedience as an act of worship?

Next Steps:
If you have the YouVersion app, I recommend a 7-day study by Pastor Charles Stanley called “The Will of God.” In the study, Stanley says God’s will is good, pleasing, and perfect (as in Romans 12:2). Trust God to be good for it. He is faithful!

21 Days Prayer:
Day 10 – Depending on him (Psalm 121:1-2)

Dear Lord, when things become difficult, I know that you will be walking beside me, holding me by my hand. You will cross the desert with me and weather any storm with me. When things become unbearable, I know that you will carry me to the other side. Today, I declare my dependence on you. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


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.


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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Look for the Spirit

Years ago, God gifted me with the ability to sit with, pray for, and comfort sick family members who were in the process of passing. In many ways, it gave other family members encouragement. It started with my grandma, then my dad, my mom, and then my brother. It was undoubtedly the hardest thing that I’ve ever done.  It was also the most humbling. I couldn’t understand why God chose me, but I followed my heart and really believe that I had the privilege and honor of walking each one home.

When my aunt got sick, I didn’t even try to see God working. I did the “responsible” things but not the “spiritual” things. She passed away, and I was left feeling like we’d both been cheated. I wasn’t focused on what God was doing, I wasn’t looking for the Spirit to lead me, and I wasn’t being obedient.

This weekend’s bottom line is obey God and trust him with the consequences.

Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)
If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.

When our spirit is made alive through Jesus, we need to attend to what he reveals. We take steps in obeying him, and we can be focused on seeing what God is doing in our circumstances. Obeying and trusting God is easier said than done.

Thankfully we have someone to help us learn and see what God is doing. We read in the gospel of John, Jesus’s promise to send us the Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-17          
15If you love me, obey my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. 17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

He will never leave. He will lead you to the truth—he lives within you. He will teach us to trust him.

John 14:26
But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

So, I am learning to live, trusting in God’s spirit, because the consequences of living without that trust, in my experience,  have been so much harder to bear. Through God’s will, things just simply fall into place, but when I exert my own will, it’s often like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It NEVER works out! I guess that’s really how I know if what I’m doing is his will or mine.

Questions:
Have there been times when you knew you were working according to God’s will. How did it make you feel?  How do you feel when you know you are not following the will of God?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t already, join in the 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Set aside time daily to be in the presence of God: reading, praying, and listening to praise and worship music.

Here’s a good song to start with: You’ve Got This by Love and the Outcome

21 Days Prayer:
Day 9 – Surrendering to him (Romans 12:1)

Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have given me: all the time, resources, relationships, and abilities. I now give them back to you. I surrender it all. For I am only a steward—it all belongs to you. God, guide my actions. Teach me to use what you have given me according to your will. Help me to listen for and obey your directions. May your will be done in me and through me. Amen.

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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See What You Can’t See

Years ago, I watched a documentary about a man who ate fast-food three times a day for 30 days. The documentary captured his weight gain, and medical test results revealed negative changes to his blood and cholesterol levels. As if things couldn’t get worse, the documentary also showed how various fast food products didn’t mold or degrade, even months after purchase.

What I saw was powerful, and I couldn’t unsee it. For months afterward, I felt an incredible tension every time my kids wanted to eat out. Happy kids + super convenient versus tired mom + time spent cooking at home.

Most people don’t eat at fast food restaurants for every meal, but we do feel tremendous struggles around food and weight. Every January, many people begin new meal plans or exercise regimens. We know what we’re supposed to do. We even know what will happen if we don’t do it. Yet, our failure to stick with healthier eating habits is one of the most common struggles among Americans, especially compared to other nations.

Of course, many of us are dealing with deeper, more difficult issues.

As we continue our series, “The Struggle is Real,” Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about the spiritual vision that we need if we’re going to find freedom and victory in our greatest struggles. If you recall, Ben defined our struggle in three ways:

  • Wanting what we don’t have.
  • Having what we don’t want.
  • Not wanting to do what we know we need to do.

How many of us have deep frustrations because we keep applying surface fixes to a spiritual problem? We forget that our bodies are physical, mental, AND spiritual. This means that our deepest struggles require a divine solution. There’s great wisdom about this recorded long ago:

Proverbs 29:18 (MSG)
If people can’t see what God is doing,
    they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
    they are most blessed.

God invites us to see things differently. God doesn’t do band-aids, but instead he invites us to be changed from the inside-out. Consider your struggle. Whether it’s your physique, mental health, relationship issues, or financial matters, he invites you to ask him to give you spiritual vision. As you begin to see your struggles and surroundings differently, you’ll begin to feel more alive and see yourself the way that God sees you.

Questions:
What struggle frustrates you because you just can’t consistently do what you know you need to? Which aspects of your struggle are physical, mental, and spiritual?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t considered the spiritual roots of your struggle, pray and ask God to help you see them.

If you can’t identify some of the spiritual aspects of your struggle, invite a wise, trusted person to listen and ask questions to help you figure it out.

21 Days Prayer:
Day 8 – Brokenness before him (Psalm 51:17)

Dear God, I have missed the mark of righteousness many times. Yet while I was still separated from you, you loved me and sent your Son to die for me. Thank you, Lord. Do not allow me to act proud. Today, I offer my broken spirit to you, for you alone can make it whole. I come to you in repentance, knowing you see me as perfect because of your Son’s sacrifice. Heal me, God, and teach my heart to break for what breaks yours. In your Son’s name, I pray. Amen. 

For today’s prayer focus for parents click here.


This post was written by Barb Roose. Barb worked on staff at CedarCreek for 14 years before transitioning to becoming a full-time speaker and author four years ago. Barb attends CedarCreek every single weekend that she isn’t on the road traveling and is so proud of her church!


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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