Trust His COMPASSION

One morning, I asked my 4-year-old son to stop playing Xbox because it was time for breakfast. He got mad and threw his game controller. As his punishment, he wasn’t permitted to play Xbox for the rest of the day. He immediately started bawling—it was still early in the day, and for him, waiting until tomorrow was like waiting an eternity. He was so upset at himself and seemed genuinely sorry for his poor behavior. As I watched him, I felt so bad for him. I didn’t undo his punishment, but I asked if he wanted to snuggle to feel better. He sat on my lap for a little while until he calmed down.

At that moment, I think I gained some insight into how God might feel as he observes us growing spiritual grit. I had the power to take away what was causing my son’s distress. But I was enforcing the punishment to make sure he grew as a person. I felt compassion for him, and I was pleasantly surprised that my son allowed me to comfort him. It seems counterintuitive to accept comfort from the one who could take away your pain but doesn’t—especially when you couldn’t possibly understand that the pain is in your best interest.

John 11:34-36
34 “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” 

As we continue the story of Lazerus, I can begin to understand how Jesus could weep with his friends, even though he had the power to prevent the very death they were mourning. Jesus has compassion; he suffers with us. Even though he knew that he would raise Lazarus back to life, he wept. God is affected by what affects us.

God knows what life will look like for us after COVID-19. He also has the power to take the disease away in an instant. Since he hasn’t, we need to have faith that this trial is God’s plan for us. He has compassion for us as our routines are uprooted and we are experiencing fear, worry, and uncertainty. He wants us to seek comfort from him—to trust that he is good and that he can use this world-changing event to transform us into the people he wants us to be.

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.

Questions:
How have you experienced God’s compassion when you’ve gone through hard times?

How has God been transforming you during this uncertain time?

Next Steps:
One way I seek comfort from God is to take a “walk with Jesus.” If you have a space to do this (make sure wherever you go is not heavily populated and that you can stay six feet away from others), take a pen, journal, and maybe a way to listen to some worship music. Imagine Jesus walking right next to you. Spend your walk praying, asking for him to reveal to you how he is transforming your heart. Use your journal to write down anything you learn during this time and look back at it when you can’t get out to walk.

Prayer:
Jesus, I read these verses and am reminded of just how much you know me. You know me personally. You understand me. I am reminded that what affects me affects you. You don’t stand by, aloof and out of touch. You suffer with us. You are compassionate toward us and filled with love for us, and this truth brings me peace and rest. It’s right there that I put my trust in you for today. My heart is filled with love for you, Father. Thank you for your love and compassion toward me. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a blogger at GratefulSheep.com and a stay-at-home mom and wife. She loves writing for this team, and she hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


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His Process is a Journey

Imagine waking up one day and deciding to skydive, run a marathon, or find the person with whom you’ll spend the rest of your life. You wouldn’t jump from a plane without proper training and a parachute. (My Army Ranger friends say smart people don’t jump out of a perfectly good plane.) Your body doesn’t want you to run for fun or distance after your childhood years without some preparation. Finding “the one” on a Tuesday and getting married the following Friday isn’t entirely realistic. (Well, I started dating Erica in July of ’07, and we married that December, but I digress.) There are necessary steps to take “in the middle” to reach these goals, or any goals.

Achieving our wants and dreams requires a process, so why do we assume there isn’t a similar process to be taken for the miracles God performs in our lives? Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “Sometimes, you have to walk through the mess to walk into your miracle.” Wow, that sounds like quite the journey. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our faith-journey requires us to TRUST GOD and BELIEVE in HIS PROCESS. In Joseph Solomon’s spoken word poem “A Shadow of a Doubt,” he says, we should “consider the child whose faith has not quite learned the definition of impossible.”

John 11:26
Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

John 11:40
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?”

Believing the process allows us to experience and see God’s glory. God places people in our lives to help free us so that we can take part in his plan. His plan will happen with or without us. Still, he shows us amazing grace by inviting us to witness his glory together, because we can’t experience it alone.

We are in a time when coming together is more important than ever. We can sit in isolation, or we can band together to share the truth of God’s love, power, and process. Technology sometimes has a way of closing us off from people, but God has allowed us to show the world how we can use technology to share his love. There are online Bible studies and Groups that can help unite our communities in this time of need. I don’t deny that we are in a storm, but, “Before you doubt him, doubt your doubts” (Solomon).

Questions:
Has there been a time when you were too impatient to trust God’s process? What did you learn from that moment?

Next Steps:
Be patient and seek God’s truth. Join one of the online Groups this semester to stay connected. Think about those who are trying to get through this season alone. FaceTime them, invite them to watch a live service, or ask them to join an online Bible study.

Prayer:
Lord, I confess I let the mess shape how I see you, and I start to lose hope. I cry out, “If only you…” had done something, and my faith in you gets shaky. But God, you are the source of what is true in my life. So today, rather than letting the mess shape how I see you, I let the truth about who you are shape how I see the mess. I bring all of my “if only,” my hurts, my fears, my sins, my shame, and all my needs right to you. I trust when I do, your way will bring new life. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Jesus IS the Miracle!

John 11:39-44
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” 40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside.  Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth.  Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

We’ve been talking about the miracles Jesus performed as recorded in the Book of John:

  1. Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana ( John 2)
  2. Healing a lame man (John 5)
  3. Feeding 5,000 with the meager offering of a little boy (John 6)
  4. Walking on water (John 6 and Matthew 14)
  5. Giving sight to a blind man by making mud (John 9)
  6. Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11)

Jesus demonstrates over and over again that he is who he says he is.  The Bible is full of promises that God cares for us, that he is with us, and that we matter! In today’s passage, Jesus shows us that he offers us new life.

It doesn’t matter what we’ve done or how messy our lives have become, Jesus can turn our mess into his message. It’s how God shows up with a miracle! Trust his power! Embrace your faith and walk through it.

Jesus promises to give rest to the weary (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus promises that if you ask, you will receive (Matthew 7:7).

Jesus tells us not to fear (Isaiah 43:1).

These are truths about who God is—who Jesus is. Jesus frequently recounts how much God loves us. Why do we struggle to believe it? If we focus on God, the truth about who he is will shape how we see our situation. But, if we focus on our situation, it will shape how we see God. As Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “The source of your truth will determine the depth of your hope.”

Questions:
How will you see God’s glory today? What is the truth that you are holding on to? Do you trust his power? What can you do to help someone else see God’s promises today?

Next Steps:
Reread the passages depicting the miracles Jesus performed. Journal about the ways Jesus has shown up in your life and blessed you with a miracle. Share this truth with a friend or neighbor.

Prayer:
Father, I make this declaration today—I believe in Jesus, the one who you sent. I believe you have power over death, and I believe that your promises are true for me today. I trust that when I am weary, you are the one who provides the rest I need. I trust that when I feel afraid, you are with me. I trust that when I ask something in your name, I will receive it. I stand on your promises and your power as the foundations of my life. Amen.


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


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Please hurry. Amen.

Try this little exercise with me:

Put your hand over your eyes and then slowly move your hand away. At first, all we see is a part of our palm. Plus, it’s a little dark, right? As our hand moves farther away, more of our hand comes into focus, and we have light. We start to see the bigger picture!

When we are in the middle of chaos, it is hard to see beyond the mess. We get stuck in the moment, and our perspective is ultra-focused on the chaos. We can’t see beyond the hand in front of our face. We fall into that trap so easily when we’re in the midst of a mess—becoming so focused on the now that we forget there is a bigger picture.

John 11:3-4

3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 

“Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death.” I have no doubt that Jesus said this with total confidence. He saw the big picture. He saw Lazarus’s timeline and knew it didn’t end with this sickness.

Jesus loved Lazarus. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and his disciples, but he slowly moved the hand from their faces, raising Lazarus from the dead. He did it according to his timing and for the glory of God. I’m positive that was a much slower process than his followers would have preferred.

Like Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “Trust God’s truth, even if we don’t understand his timing.” Love is patient! We might not like the speed at which the resolution comes into focus, but we must trust that God is going to get us through it. We have to fight the temptation to keep our hand in front of our face. Trust that God will unveil the big picture, and get ready to celebrate another beautiful mess that has been overcome for the glory of God!

Questions:
Can you recall a mess that God walked you through?

What is today’s mess? How can God help?

What prevents you from trusting and relying on God’s timing?

Next Steps:
I have said this before, but one of the best things a Christian can do is journal. Pray, write, grow, and watch. By journaling, you will have a literal record of how God walked you through a mess.

Prayer:
Dear God, walking through the mess is overwhelming to me. I don’t understand what you are doing, why this is happening, or even the timing of it. But today, I turn my attention toward the truth about your love: that no matter how I feel, no matter the questions I have, no matter what I face, you deeply care for me. You care about the mess, and you want to walk through it with me. I trust that your love can overwhelm whatever it is I face and pray for your name to be glorified. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Mike Bilik. Mike is a father to three 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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Ready, Set, GO!

Coronavirus. COVID-19. Scary. This situation has several names, and most of them are unnerving. During self quarantine, everyone is wondering what to do. More importantly, where can we go? We feel helpless. Should I continue with my daily routine? As a stay-at-home mom with two small children and an elderly mother living with me, I can safely say the answer is … NO! I cannot continue my usual daily routines because I cannot, nor should I, come and go as I please for the safety of my family and others I may encounter in doing so. In consideration to all, for now, I cannot go to Costco and stroll happily amongst the samples, or waltz through Target while sipping a very expensive, unnecessary cup of coffee as I load up my cart with things I will eventually convince my husband we need.

Undeniably, some things have definitely changed in my routine, but in reality, most have stayed the same. I can continue doing most of the things I usually do, just as I did before COVID-19. So what’s the problem? I should be able to easily identify who I am and what I need to do on a daily basis. Yet, I still find myself lost at moments. I find myself completely fixating on what I “need” to do outside of my home or where I “need” to go but cannot. There I am. Stuck, and I get sucked into a whirlwind of spinning thoughts and lost focus.

John 9:4
“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work.”

Night has come, in a sense, and many cannot work with all that is going on. As Lead Pastor Ben Snyder mentioned in his sermon, Don’t waste today’s opportunity assuming you will have it tomorrow. What is that opportunity? Is it to serve your family (temporarily homeschooling your kids, or perhaps, helping a spouse or parent with daily chores)? Is the opportunity just to go beyond what God would normally call us to do? Perhaps, it is simply to be present and look for the miracle in the chaos? With all that is going on in the world, I feel compelled more than ever to pray—focusing more on God—than the mess or the fear around me. When we call out to God, he answers us—sometimes with instructions to GO.

John 9:6-7
6 “Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, ‘Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam’ (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!”

When we go where the Lord tells us to go, we come back with the miracle he desires for us. But how? We are only able to meet the opportunity if we go beyond our own limitations, faithfully relying on the power of the one who saves us—Jesus Christ—and go through the mess. In the end, we receive the miracle.

Questions:
How can I participate in the “go” during a time of “stay home”? How am I staying focused on God through the mess in order to get to the miracle? Am I using this opportunity to stay still in order to GO and seek God’s face? If not, why? How can I change that?

Next Steps:
Begin to look for God in all of the areas that we cannot see, change, or control. Just like the blind man, seek the Lord in faith. Follow his instructions. Participate in the miracle. Go and obey.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you told the blind man to wash the mud off his eyes, and he came back seeing. What do I need to wash away to grow closer to you? What can I take responsibility for in my own life-changing adventure with you? Where are you telling me to go? I am confident you will show me. And when you do, I trust the promise that when you tell me to go, you are bringing about life change in me and those around me. Help me to see it. 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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An Ordinary Miracle

Last week, as the enormity of COVID-19 swept over our country, I found myself spending way too much time staring at the computer screen. I read articles, I watched press conferences, I read posts, and I may have shared a couple of funny memes. By the end of the week, I felt bogged down, uneasy, and lethargic. The immensity of the pandemic seemed so overwhelming, and my little world seemed so insignificant. In actuality, my little world has not changed all that much. I homeschool my children, so it’s “business as usual” at home. We had some activities canceled, but we usually do not have many outside commitments. However, the sense of fear permeating our world through the screen changed my outlook on life. In the mornings, it was just easier to roll over when the alarm went off than to get up. I was tired. I didn’t know what to think or what to feel. Sunday, I watched the service with my husband but was unsettled throughout the day, knowing I needed something but not knowing what it was. Finally, when I sat down for my afternoon “rest time” it became clear: I needed beauty.

Darkness was seeping into my house, and I was letting it. I was not combating it with light or beauty. I knew I needed to change that. I cut some branches from a couple of our flowering trees. They were all tight buds, but I knew that with some warmth from our house, they would open. The next morning, I got up at 6:00 and lit a candle while I read my Bible. I drew in my nature notebook. I played music that filled my soul with hope. None of these things was spectacular, but they were my small attempt to allow God to push back the darkness. They were ordinary things that God used to soothe my soul.

This weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder discussed the story of how Jesus healed a blind man. Jesus could have healed this man in any spectacular way he wanted, but he chose to use mud. Simple, ordinary, and dirty mud. Not only was it mud, but it was mud that he made with his own spit.

John 9:6
“Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes.”

I’m finding that God often reveals himself through the simple. There are so many ordinary things that God can use to change the course of your day, your week, maybe even your life. I’m so glad this forced isolation is happening in the spring. The world is coming to life around us. Look at the trees in your front yard. The leaf buds are ready to burst. When they open, look at the tiny perfect leaves. Feel how soft and feathery they are compared to the mature leaves of summer. Look at the colors bursting around you. Listen to the birds. Enjoy this time for the miracle it is.

God is giving you the opportunity to sit back and spend time with those closest to you. He’s giving you the opportunity to take a Sabbath rest. That might be the biggest miracle coming out of this whole pandemic. Americans are being forced to rest. Do I wish this disease would be miraculously eradicated overnight? Yes, especially for the sake of all those who are lonely, who are scared, and who might be sickened from it. However, if you step back and consider the miracle might look different than what you expected it to, you may just  open yourself up to receiving the miracle intended for you.

Questions:
What miracle are you asking God for today? Have you ever stopped to think that your miracle might look differently than you expected it to?

Next Steps:
Go outside and breathe in the fresh, spring air. Look at the trees and count the number of robins in your yard. Allow God to perform a miracle in your life in whatever way he sees fit. Then allow God to use you to be the miracle for someone around you. Call an isolated loved one. Write a letter to someone you are thinking of. Don’t waste this gift of time.

Prayer:
God, I don’t want to underestimate how simple and ordinary things are transformed in your hands. Today, help me to see the things around me that can be used for you. I believe you will not only use them, but that in the process, I will also get to see you more. In Jesus’ name, 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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Sidewalk Graffiti

It all started with going to the home of family friends. It was their youngest daughter’s birthday, and because of the stay-at-home order and social distancing, her birthday celebration was canceled. So my stepmom, little sister, and I decided to celebrate her birthday in their front yard. We put her gift on the porch and hung some happy birthday posters. Then, we wrote all over the sidewalk (with chalk), celebrating another year of her life. This quickly accelerated to us taking some chalk to the park and drawing hearts, rainbows, and smiley faces and writing “God loves you!” for other visitors to see. Who knew that graffiti art at the park could be a way of making people smile?

Although, some of us don’t feel like celebrating anything right now, and it can be hard to find joy in rainbows and smiley faces when the world feels so uncertain not knowing what tomorrow will bring. How are we dealing with the feeling of urgency at this time? Despite all the discouraging news bombarding us each day, God has news to share with the world that is more urgent and hopeful—that he calls us to be a part of. It’s about sharing the light in the midst of the darkness surrounding us.

John 9:4
“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Jesus is the light of the world; he is life. It is in these dark times that Jesus will shine his light the brightest and call us to continue the work to share his good news with the world. His message is that even though we were far from him, he gave his life so that we can have life in him. That’s the importance of the Gospel: Jesus gave his life, and so should we. Just because it feels like the world has stopped, doesn’t mean we should stop doing the work God has called us to do.

You don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Still, you have a story to tell, and what you make of it will become the story you are going to tell when this is over. His story will always be the same—that he is the light of the world. Your story during this time of uncertainty can be one of hope and life, a reflection of who Jesus is. So, what are you going to make of this time? I am making this time about graffiti art and a celebration of life. I hope you’ll join me, even if it’s 6 feet apart!

Questions:
Who or what do you need to celebrate even though things seem uncertain?

How are you being productive or making a difference during this time?

What story do you want to share when this is over?

What prevents you from doing the work God calls us to do?

Next Steps:
Make a list of things to do that you have been putting off or take a step toward making a difference. Journal about what is keeping you from doing the work God calls us to do. If you want to dig deeper into this topic, listen to Tim Tebow’s message from Passion 2020.

Prayer:
Jesus, I admit I often wait. I make excuses. I act as if I don’t have enough. As I open my hands to you, I humbly ask, “How can I serve? What are the tasks I must carry out urgently TODAY?” Even if that overwhelms me—that the God of the universe who created all things would have tasks assigned to me—I want to serve you. I refuse to put it off for another moment! Use me in any way you can. Amen.


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Own Up!

Own up! Admit your mistakes—now, there is a concept foreign to many. To own up is a mark of maturity (in my book). To own up with no accompanying excuse is a mark of spiritual maturity (see Chapter 2 of my book). Ahhh. The decision to stop playing the blame game, for many, is inconceivable. Playing the game only requires two players (the other person/place/thing and me), but often more than two players participate. I play this game with expertise (not that I am proud of that). I am certain others do too. But … without a doubt, playing the blame game blinds me from ever noticing possible miracles set before me. Miracles? Lead Pastor Ben Snyder summed it up succinctly in his weekend message: “Sometimes God’s greatest power is displayed in our weakest moment” and “There is more to me than the mess you see.”

One miracle for Christ followers is the development of spiritual eyes as we completely surrender to him. It is when followers of Christ lift a finger to help—rather than pointing a finger—that eternal opportunities appear. Eternal opportunities are opportunities for Christ to be glorified. What a demonstration of God’s power to take responsibility when we mess up. Choosing to not hurl hurtful/hateful words can be a display of the power of God. What an expression of God’s power to say genuinely, “I am very sorry for ______. Please forgive me.” And … what an expression of God’s power to sincerely respond, “I forgive you. I will ALWAYS love you—no matter what! Nothing will ever change that!”

It is no coincidence that God chooses to demonstrate his power to those most needing the hope available through a personal relationship with him. This truth appears in John 9:3: “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Questions:
Do you possess the ability to NOT place blame on others? Does taking responsibility for your actions (or lack thereof) come easily? What stands in your way of having the ability to NOT place blame?

Next Steps:
Pray, with the bottom line in mind: “God, help me see the eternal opportunity right in front of me.” Stop pointing the finger. Stop placing blame on others. Take responsibility for your actions/inactions without excuses. Allow the power of God to be seen in you.

Prayer:
God, help me to stop looking for who or what to blame, and instead help me to anticipate what you are doing. I believe in you, God. Help me to go through today asking, “What do you want to do through me here?” I am ready to reflect your power through me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in both her life and in her marriage to Mike. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Karen’s eternal hope in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within. Both speaking and writing with clarity about the truth of His word are paramount to her.


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The Right Question

John 9:1-3  
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.”

This week, we are continuing our series, I Need a Miracle. In John 9, Jesus healed a man who had been born blind. Without question, we can all agree that this man needed a miracle. The disciples and Jesus knew it too. The question the disciples asked is an odd one: “Why was this man born blind? Was it his sins or the sins of his parents?” But haven’t we asked the same question? “Whose fault is it that (fill in the blank)?” We want to point fingers. Assign blame. Find some kind of reason. Make some kind of sense out of what is happening to us or someone we know and love.

Jesus’ answer is astounding! He sees what the disciples cannot see. He knows what they cannot possibly know. Jesus reveals the purpose, the reason this man was born blind. It isn’t any person’s sins at fault. It isn’t that he was playing with fireworks and injured his eyes. He was born blind so that “the power of God could be seen in him.” In other words, the purpose of his blindness is so that Jesus may be glorified.

This story reminds me of a time when something happened to my family. We lost our home in a fire. It just happened—nobody was to blame. At the time, I remember talking about “why” this had happened with my son John. This same passage immediately came to mind—God allowed it so that he would be glorified through it. That thought compelled us to glorify Jesus through the process, pain, loss, and eventual recovery. Our eyes were opened, and God allowed us to see him and the eternal opportunities we had to tell the world about Jesus. He wanted us to glorify him, and the best way he could do that was to take everything away from us so that Jesus was all we had left.

What an amazing, sobering thought: The purpose in your pain, circumstance, health crisis, or job loss is to glorify God in the midst of it. At no other time is there a greater opportunity to tell the world about Jesus than when you are at your weakest and he is your strength.

2 Corinthians 12:10
That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

As a Christ follower, I can focus on God, his purpose, his strength, and the miracle that he wants to have a relationship with me. As we go through life, trials will come. Make sure you ask the right question: How can I glorify Jesus in this?

The unidentified, healed blind man glorified Jesus with his testimony. He was bold. He spoke obvious truths. He gained his sight, and even more valuable, he gained eternity with God. In John 9:38, the healed man says, “Lord, I believe!” and he worshipped Jesus. Glorify God today. This is the opportunity he has given you.

Questions:
Whom have you been glorifying through a trial or difficult circumstance? Is your circle of friends aware that you are a Christ follower? With whom can you share the truth of who Jesus is to you? Have you asked Jesus to use your life to reveal himself?

Next Steps:
Read Scripture. Start with John 9. Read the rest of this miracle! Then read:

2 Corinthians 4:11, 2 Corinthians 4:17, John 17:4, 1 Corinthians 10:31, and Psalm 116:10.

Prayer:
Dear God, help me to see what you see. Give me your sight for people. Give me your sight for our present circumstances. Give me your sight for whatever it is that I’m facing. May this simple prayer be in my heart throughout today—God, help me see. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Julie Roehl, a regular contributor and editor of the LivingItOut.


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The Miracle of Living Open-Handed

Having been raised in a church environment, it never ceases to amaze me how Lead Pastor Ben Snyder brings Jesus’ teachings to life in ways I never experienced before. This past weekend was no exception. Pastor Ben asked us to have a fresh look at the story of Jesus feeding the crowd of 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish. I could probably recite the story verbatim, but I never realized all the dynamics of what Jesus was teaching. Ben pointed out that this story is written in all four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, but John is the only one who states Jesus knew what he was going to do when he saw the large crowd coming toward him.

John 6:5-6
5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

When Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread to feed the people, it was a test. Sometimes God tests us for our own spiritual growth. Jesus was asking “Where can we go to get what we need?” Throughout the Bible, there are many verses that show us where we can go when in need. Here are a few examples:

  • When life is dark and scary – Psalms 27:1
  • When you have been knocked down by life – Exodus 15:26
  • When you are lost and don’t know where to go – Psalms 23:1
  • When you feel vulnerable and unprotected – Psalms 59:17
  • When everything is changing and not steady – Psalms 18:2
  • When you can’t get over the hurts in life – Philippians 1:6
  • When you feel all alone in the struggle – Psalms 54:4
  • When you have no joy – Psalms 43:4
  • When you have nowhere else to go – Deuteronomy 10:17

John 6:7-9
7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them! 8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is this with this huge crowd?”

Philip looked at the problem as a money issue, and Andrew looked at it as a resource issue. Numbers don’t always tell the whole story. Most likely, others had brought food, but the young boy was the only one willing to share. He was living with an open hand. When Andrew gave the meager barley loaves and fish to Jesus, it became an abundance. When we give our weaknesses to Jesus, he can turn them into strengths.

Presumably, the other members of the crowd did not share because they feared they would not have something to eat. They were living with a closed fist. We also hang on to things in fear, and in doing so, we limit what God will do in us and through us. According to Senior Pastor Jud Wilhite from Central Church in Las Vegas, “God takes what you release and brings his increase.”

When you are at the end of yourself, you are at the beginning of a miracle!

Questions:
Where do you feel you are not enough? Are you living with an open hand or a closed fist? Where is your focus: on what you have or on what you don’t have? Do you feel God has blessed you with less?

Next Steps:          
Jesus wants to invite us into the miracle. Take a new step of faith and begin like Philip, admit that you have a need. Then pray that your not enough will show you that God is more than enough.

A Time for Prayer: Friday Focus
Father, I receive the words of this verse as the truth about who you are. You are my rock, my fortress, and my savior. You are my protection, my shield, and my safety. You have saved me. You give me both an eternity with you and a life of freedom that is possible today. I confess that I often want freedom from my circumstances, but today I am putting my trust in you so that, despite my circumstances, in the midst of them, God, I am free in you. Help my words and actions reflect this each day. I pray specifically that more and more people in my neighborhood, my city, my nation, and our world would know you. Amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Tuesday evening. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


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