Life with Jesus is Rich!

Today’s Scripture: James 5

When I read “Warning to the Rich,” the heading in today’s reading, I thought, “doesn’t apply to me, I’m not “rich”.” Taking a closer look, I think James isn’t talking about monetary wealth. I remember a time when I had it all! I was leading worship at our local church, my family attended and supported me, I had good friends that I met with and did Bible study and prayer on a regular basis. I loved my job and my life felt like it had a purpose. But then I took my eyes off the Lord and began to pursue worldly pleasures.

James 5:5
You have spent your years on earth in luxury, satisfying your every desire. You have fattened yourselves for the day of slaughter.

I lost my peace and was left with the emptiness brought on by a selfish lifestyle that only leads to bondage. Terrible things began to happen all around me and to me. Finally, the pain of staying the same became greater than the pain I would have had to face in order to change. I cried out to Jesus to save me, and I waited patiently. Things began to change in me and consequently in my life. I am living proof that prayer is very powerful!

James 5:16
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

I was able to confess my sins and make amends to my family, friends, and the church. I discovered there had been many prayers lifting me up! I’m sure if it weren’t for those prayers, I would not have made it back to walking with the Lord. I am so humbled to know that there was not judgment and condemnation, but only love and prayers for me when I went astray. Please think about that if you know someone who is on the wrong path. The most powerful thing you can do is pray!

Life is far better than I could imagine now. I am back in the arms of Jesus! My life has a purpose, I am remarried to a wonderful man, my family is part of my life, I am part of a life group, and I love to worship at CedarCreek Church and write about my experiences. The things of Earth don’t hold the appeal they once did.

Questions:
Is there anything in your life that holds more value than your relationship with God? Do you have peace in your heart? If not, have you prayed and asked why? Is there someone who needs you to pray for or with them?

Next Steps:
Talk to a good Christian friend you feel you can trust. Make a confession about something you’d like to quit, change, or do better. Pray together for divine guidance and strength.

Prayer:
Father, you are holy and deserving of our worship. We praise you for your grace and mercy. When life is out of control, help us to turn our eyes to you and not despair. We trust that you will heal us and guide us to the blessings and peace that only comes through a life with you. Thank you for who you are and all that you do. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Pride vs. Humility

Today’s Scripture: James 4

“Pride” is a buzzword in our culture today. Phrases abound from the accomplishments of our children to the identities we have created for ourselves. We are proud of what we do, who we are, and what we or our family members have accomplished. Clearly in our culture, people want to feel good about themselves and are not afraid to let the world around them know it. But what does the Bible say about pride?

James 4:6 says “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Proverbs 11:2 says “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 29:23 says “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.”

Pride in the Bible is always portrayed as a negative attribute. Why?

According to the dictionary, pride is defined as “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” At its definition, pride is all about me. Pride causes me to want others to look at how good I am, how unique I am, how gifted my children are. It’s always selfish. As Ben said this weekend, pride says, “I matter more than you.”

James 4:7 says “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Pride is an attribute of the devil. Only in humbling ourselves can we resist him. Pride in anything of ourselves or our own making brings us down. It damages our relationship with God and with others. It brings a false sense of independence and confidence in our own abilities. When we humble ourselves before God, we are embracing a posture of needfulness – a posture that says I am nothing without you Lord, and that is good. In our humility, God will lift us up and give us the acceptance, and approval, and value we so long for.

Questions:
In what areas of your life do you struggle with pride? What areas of your life, or what relationships could benefit from more humility on your part?

Next Steps:
The Book of Proverbs is full of verses about pride and humility. Spend some time looking up these verses and come to your own conclusions. Here are a few to start with: Proverbs 8:13, 11:12, 15:33, 16:18, 18:12, 22:4, 29:23.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, Thank you for your grace and wisdom. Thank you that we can find our worth in you alone and we do not need to strive after achievements and glory for ourselves. Forgive my prideful attitudes. Forgive me for ever thinking that I can direct or control my life by my own efforts. Help me to maintain a spirit of humility when approaching you and those around me. I pray that I honor you with my life. 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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The Power of the Tongue

Today’s Scripture: James 3

The tongue is a powerful weapon. If used properly, it can help mend the broken, encourage the weak, create positivity, and bring nations together. The same tongue can also break a person’s spirit, curse humankind, and divide cultures out of fear and hate.

James 3: 9
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

How can an individual who knows they are a child of God behave in such a way? Some of the most spirited people use their tongue to praise God with songs and prayer, then turn around and curse their family, friends, and anyone in-between.

James 3: 10
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.

Consistency is a must. Don’t shout your love for God and whisper your disdain for another. With the same breath, don’t say you love the Lord but call yourself ugly, unforgivable, or unworthy.

Questions:
When is the last time you praised the Lord? How does your criticism of self or others take away joy in your life? To whom will you express your appreciation this week? How are you treating non-believers?

Next Steps:
Practice speaking at home, work, and other places the same way you talk at church. Be consistently good with your words.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for showing us how to love with our words as well as with our hearts. Help me to continue to speak wisdom, faith, and love to others, and remind me to swallow my pride and ask for their forgiveness when I do the opposite. Amen.


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


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Transcending Prejudice

Today’s Scripture: James 2

James chapter 2 begins with a provocative question which is as relevant today as when it was first posed nearly 2,000 years ago:

James 2:1
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?

The book of James was authored by Jesus’ brother, who was a leader in the Jerusalem Church. As a point of context, both the Old and New Testaments were written in an era when prejudice was rampant, even among Christians. Discrimination thrived in the first century amid a misplaced emphasis on differences in ethnicity, gender, nationality, social status, and religion.

Like Jesus and James, we too live in a time of prejudice. We are not born prejudiced, it is learned. Prejudice exists because we are sinful beings. We need look no further than the daily headlines or social media sites to find examples of the venomous prejudice that exists today. Truth be told, there are times when we need only look in the mirror to see them.

Though its application may be subtle and even subconscious at times, we all exhibit prejudice. Our selfish nature tells us that there may be more gained from the person with status or power, so we favor them over others who seem to have less to offer. We make snap judgments about others based on their appearance or the opinions they express. And in our worst moments, when we are feeling vulnerable or weak, we may even choose to lift ourselves up by bringing others down.

James 2:14
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?

The beauty of Jesus’ teachings – and his exemplary life – is that they transcend prejudice. It has been said that prejudice cannot see the things that are because it is always looking for things that aren’t. Jesus turned the tables on this notion of accentuating our differences by instead focusing on what believers have in common. What we have in common is that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. As the Bible tells us, we are all “made in his image, in the image of God he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the man who looks down on others cannot see that which is above him. And this, friends, is where understanding, acceptance, and healing begin. When we fix our gaze on God, we focus on him and not our differences. We do this in a selfless and loving brotherhood that enables us to not only declare our faith in Jesus, but also live it.

Questions:
Do you believe there are degrees to prejudice – that some instances are less egregious than others? What do Jesus’ actions show us? Is there someone in your circle of friends or relatives that you can rely upon to “keep you honest” when it comes to regarding all others with equal value?

Next Steps:
Set aside some time to recall an occasion when you exhibited prejudice. Rather than focusing on the degree of the sin, think about the factors that drove your behavior. Consider how you could have handled the situation differently and seek to apply this approach going forward. Devote a portion of your prayer time this week to asking God for awareness and guidance in acting impartially toward others.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your perfect example of impartiality. Grant me the eyes to regard others as you do and the desire to serve all others justly. And when I fall short of your standard, I ask that you provide me the conviction to see my prejudices, confess my sins, and seek to love others as you do. Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.


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Wise Advice

Today’s Scripture: James 1

Most often we cannot control what a jerkface does or doesn’t do. But, we can control our response. And, we can control whether we are a jerkface or not. The book of James gives us some practical tools to use in our daily lives, which help us pursue humility. For example, verse 19 tells us to:

Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

Quick to listen. In Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the 6th habit is to seek first to understand, then to be understood. Too often we listen with the intent to reply instead of the intention to hear actually what the other person is saying.

James reminds us that we must be quick to listen. The old adage, “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason,” applies here – it is more important to hear other people than to make whatever point we want to make.

Slow to speak. A verse I often quote to myself is, “When there are many words, sin is unavoidable” (Proverbs 10:19 HCSB). The NLT states it this way, “Too much talk leads to sin…” and the next line says, “Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” What more is there to say about that? HA!

But, before we move on, think about the power of words. Words can cut deep and cause much pain. James 3 continues this discussion about controlling the tongue. In fact, he goes so far as to say that “if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way” (James 3:2). It is wise (sensible) to be attentive to the advice in these verses.

Slow to get angry. Anger falls on the list of things that Paul tells us to “get rid of” in Colossians 3:8. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered person commits all kinds of sin.” In contrast, “LOVE is patient and kind…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). The fruit of the SPIRIT is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Zach Williams sums up a prayer we can sing in relation to these three areas in his new song “Less Like Me:”

“Oh Lord‚ help me be
A little more like mercy‚ a little more like grace
A little more like kindness‚ goodness, love, and faith
A little more like patience‚ a little more like peace
A little more like Jesus, a little less like me.”

Questions:
Which of these three areas are you currently having the most trouble with? Listening? Speaking? Or anger?

Does this post remind you of someone in your life? Does it remind you of yourself?

Next Steps:
Next time you’re dealing with a jerkface, or you’re tempted to be one yourself, pause. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit for his strength and control to help you be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

Prayer:
God, on our own we are a hot mess. We are jerkfaces! What comes naturally is to make sure our point is heard, to feel justified in our anger, and to block out those we don’t want to listen to. But, with your help and the help of your Holy Spirit, we can be more like Jesus. Help us to practice the pause. Help us be patient, kind, and gentle. Help us trump the natural with your supernatural. 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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Everyone is Welcome

Today’s Scripture: 2 Peter 3

I don’t know about you, but these days I really wonder why God puts up with all the evil going on in our world! Every day the news reports more injustice, more immorality, more sickness, more violence, more … crazy! When will it be enough so that God will finally say, “That’s it! I will contend with you no more!”

Well, in Chapter 3 of 2 Peter, the apostle tells us in no uncertain terms what will happen in “the day of the Lord.” It will come like a thief, meaning we will not expect it.

2 Peter 3:10
The heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

Yes, please, I say! Come today, Lord Jesus! But that is selfish me. That is me, happy that my husband, my daughter and son-in-law, my son (in heaven), my mom and her husband, my dad (in heaven) and his wife, and most of my friends have a saving relationship with Jesus. My heart celebrates those saved, and I really don’t want to endure the crazy of this world any longer!

But God (my favorite phrase in the Bible) is not so selfish! Peter says in Verse 9 that “the Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise [to return], as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but he wants everyone to repent.”

Read that again. He wants everyone to repent. I looked it up on Lexico.com and the synonyms for everyone are:

Everybody, every person, each person, each one, each and every one, all, one and all, all and sundry, the whole world, the world at large, the public, the general public, people everywhere, every Tom, Dick, and Harry, every man jack, every mother’s son

That’s not just the people I like, or those who I think deserve eternity with Jesus. It means everyone!

I love that about God, especially because he didn’t decide he was fed up with humanity before 1994, when I came to faith in Christ, or before 2008 when my daughter came to faith in Christ. There are people I love who still don’t know Jesus, so I’m happy that God hasn’t decided he’s done with our mess yet!

Peter goes on to say that since we know that the world will be destroyed in this way, how now shall we live? In Verse 14, he says we should “make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.” How are you doing with that? I have some work to do!

Questions:
What do you need to do to live a life that is pure and blameless? How are you praying for your friends and relatives who do not know Jesus?

Next Steps:
If there is an area of your life that does not honor God, ask a trusted friend to help you honor God in that place.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, how I thank you for your patience with me! Give me your heart in this matter, that I would celebrate your patience with the people in our world who still do not know you. Help me feel an urgency to share your love with them. I know it is your desire that they come to know you, and how will they if I do not tell them? Give me the courage and the opportunity to share your love for them, that they would come into a relationship with you. 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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“Fake News”

Today’s Scripture: 2 Peter 2

Think fake news is scary? False teaching is the Christian equivalent to journalistic misinformation. It is committing the same kinds of deception with much more at stake! Like fake news, false teaching has a long history. In Genesis 3:1, a deceiving question was asked: “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

In 2 Peter 2, Peter warns against the influence of false teachers that draws people away from Christ and into sin. Peter shows how their lies impact those who believe them and introduces their “lies about the truth.”

2 Peter 2:2
And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.

He explains that these false teachers denied the sovereignty of Christ. They taught that he was not Lord, even though he bought them with his blood. The false teachers openly indulged in sexual sin, taught others to do the same, and used lies to exploit the Christians for their own gain.

2 Peter 2:19
They promise freedom, but they themselves are slaves of sin and corruption. For you are a slave to whatever controls you.

As both encouragement and warning, Peter assures them that God is aware of the practice of these false teachers. Their destruction is coming, hanging over them even now. This is not something God is ignorant of or powerless against.

Romans 16:17-18
17 And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset peoples faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. 18 Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.”

Peter gave examples to demonstrate that God is ready and willing to bring destruction on those who reject him. He did not spare even the angels who sinned or the entire ancient world that lived in the time of Noah. God burned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes for their wickedness, though he saved Lot.

Peter’s point is that God knows how to both rescue his people and punish the unrighteous at exactly the right time. The final reckoning will occur on the day of judgment.

2 Peter 2:9
So you see, the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their trials, even while keeping the wicked under punishment until the day of final judgment.

Questions:
How do you remember things you should not forget? Do you read Scripture daily and spend time with God? What is keeping you from connecting with God more often?

Next Steps:
Christians coming out of the world and into the church are the most vulnerable because they lack the knowledge to know better but are attracted by a false promise of “freedom.”

CedarCreek always has a Scripture verse for the series. Do you read and memorize these verses to know the true power of God. Take the time today to learn and memorize scripture. As David said, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalms 119:11).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I pray to identify false teachers and to stand fast on the word of truth, for your name’s sake. Even in those times when I fail, through fear or lack of faith, you remain faithful to the promises made to those who have trusted in Christ for the remission of sins and life everlasting. Thank you for all that you do to help me live day by day. For this I ask in Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Follow Me

Today’s Scripture: 2 Peter 1

During our walk with God, it can be deceptively easy to become complacent in our faith. On a personal level, I sometimes catch myself “going through the motions” of followership, which can all too easily mask dormancy in my faith journey.

In these moments, I need to remind myself that faith is not a passive state. In other words, it is not enough for me to simply believe in God and just go on with my life. To the contrary, faith requires consistent interaction with God’s word and continual action on his behalf.

Today, our LivingItOut study begins the Second Epistle of Peter, in which Simon Peter warns us about the dangers of becoming complacent in our faith. The letter comprising 2 Peter was written against a somber backdrop. Christians were suffering vicious persecution at the hands of the Romans while so-called prophets espousing false doctrines were plentiful. Peter was nearing the end of his life. He would suffer a martyr’s death within a year or so of writing this letter. Being keenly aware of the relative brevity of life, Peter offers this epistle as an emphatic testament to his legacy (2 Peter 1:14-15).

In doing so, he implores us to be aware of our duties as followers. God’s desire, Peter suggests, is not simply that we believe in him. Indeed, belief is just the beginning. God desires that we grow in our knowledge of his word and in our faith, and that we express our belief through our actions (i.e., loving others). This is not because our actions earn us greater favor with God. As believers, we know that our destiny is secure because Christ paid for our sins on the cross. But God also wants us to benefit from his “great and precious promises.”

2 Peter 1:3-4
3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Though Peter’s legacy is complicated, his words on this topic carry particular credibility. Peter was known for being impulsive and brash, and he failed Jesus—spectacularly—on several occasions. At the same time, his allegiance to Christ and the word of God are unquestionable. It has been said that it is better to be a follower who fails than to be one who fails to follow. And there is perhaps no better embodiment of this saying than Simon Peter.

It is no accident that Jesus’ first and last encounters with Peter conveyed effectively the same message: “follow me” (Matthew 4:19, John 21:22). And so it follows that the core message of 2 Peter 1 is that we should actively turn to Jesus and follow him.

Questions:
How often do you find yourself becoming complacent in your faith? What steps can you take to be more mindful about living your faith in a more active manner? What are some specific ways in which you can grow in your knowledge of God and your expression of faith in action?

Next Steps:
Set aside time today to consider Peter’s three dimensions of faith: knowing God, growing in your understanding, and living your faith. Assess your level of active faith and where you have opportunities to be more intentional in growing it. As you do this, remember that this should not be viewed as an obligation, but rather as an opportunity to be more “productive and useful” as a Christ follower (2 Peter 1:8).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your great and precious promises. Help me to always be an active and intentional follower, and to know, grow, and live my faith for your purposes. Amen.


This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.


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Healthy Boundaries

Today’s Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 3

As Christians, being told to “stay away” from someone can feel like a direct violation against how we’re called to live. We’re called to love everyone, to forgive everything, and to turn the other cheek when dealing with difficult people—how can we justify staying away from someone? And yet, in 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Paul gives this command: “Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.”

How can we defend avoiding someone, especially a fellow believer? Jesus himself said he came for those who are sick, didn’t he?

Well, in essence, yes—but maybe not exactly.

Mark 2:17
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

All sick people need a doctor. However, a doctor can’t help someone who, like the Pharisees, refuses to see him or insists they’re not sick.

Of course, the people Paul is referring to in today’s reading seem to have acknowledged that they are sinners and have found salvation—after all, they are called believers. Still, even as believers, sometimes we don’t notice when we are straying.

As lead pastor Ben Snyder addressed last weekend, people who resist feedback, adjust the truth, and generally divert any blame away from themselves often fall into the category of mockers, scoffers, and fools. They’re not evil or wicked, but they’re not wise either.

Personally, I think Paul was dealing with some fools here.

For some context, these people had already been warned about their behavior in a previous letter from Paul.

1 Thessalonians 5:14 (emphasis added)
Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

That sounds a little more like loving everyone, doesn’t it? In these words, there’s an echo of our current theme verse, Ephesians 4:2, “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

However, when the foolish won’t listen to warnings, what can we do? Well, we’re certainly not going to stop loving them. We won’t stop caring about them. But if we care about them, we can’t turn a blind eye to destructive behavior. Instead, we have to place limits. As Paul said, “Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister” (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 emphasis added).

It’s a hard thing to define—that line between loving and setting boundaries. Here are a couple thoughts to help guide you:

  1. It’s not love to let someone settle for less than what God wants for them.
  2. While we are called to sacrifice for the sake of other believers, we are not called to risk our character or personal integrity.

Questions:
Which category do most of your friends fall into: the wise, the mockers, or the wicked? Which category do you fit into? Do you have any friends who are both foolish and believers?

Next Steps:
Do not immediately cut off any friends who are mockers. However, do consider some boundaries you can set if you recognize these friends are draining you or having a negative influence on your spiritual journey. If you’ve set boundaries and talked to these friends about some of the negative patterns you’ve seen in their lives, and they still haven’t changed, consider setting up stricter boundaries.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I know I can be foolish, maybe even wicked—thank you for loving me anyway. Help me to love others the way you first loved me, but also to recognize my limits and weaknesses. Teach me to see when people are willing to change and when they’re not—help me to keep my arms and heart open for when they are ready. Above all else, may your will be done. Amen.


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


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Do Not Be Deceived

Today’s Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 2

Thessalonians is a book of letters Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica, modern-day Greece. 2 Thessalonian 2:1-12 is confusing and a little scary. It talks about the end times and Christ’s second coming. It talks about deception and lawlessness. The part that is most unsettling to me is:

Thessalonian 2:9-12
9 This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit powers and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that will save them. 11 So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth.

Pause and take a deep breath. I want to panic a little. How will I not be deceived? The man Satan sends will use deception. He will perform miracles and those who believe him will be on their way to destruction. What is even scarier is that God will cause them to be greatly deceived and they will believe the lies.

It’s time for another deep breath. What will prevent us from being deceived? Believing the truth: Jesus is the Son of God. He was sinless, he died on the cross for our sins, and God raised him from the dead. He gave us the priceless gift of salvation. When we believe this with our whole hearts, we will be saved. We prevent ourselves from being deceived by reading the Bible, memorizing verses, praying, resting in his presence, and spending time with other Jesus followers. I believe if we do these things, God will not let us be deceived. We will know the truth, and the truth will set us free.

I trust that God will do everything in his power to convince the deceived to believe. God does not want anyone to perish. Unfortunately, there are some people who will never believe. Instead they choose to focus on themselves and do great evil. They have refused to accept God’s free gift of salvation. Eventually, God will allow them to suffer the consequences of their choices.

Paul doesn’t end his letter on such a sad note. He reminds the believers how much God loves them and how he will give them comfort, hope, and strength. I believe these words are addressed to all of us believers:

Thessalonian 2:16-17
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal comfort and wonderful hope, 17 comfort you and strengthen you in every good thing you do and say.

God does not want us to live in panic and worry about the end times. He wants us to be prepared and not to be deceived. He will fill us with his grace, comfort, and hope.

Questions:
Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior? If not, why? Are you attending services, reading your Bible, praying, and spending time in fellowship with other believers? Why is it so important to do these things?

Next Steps:
Go to GrowthTrack. Join a Life Group. Become a member of the Dream Team. Pray. Read your Bible. Attend services. Have fellowship with other believers.

Prayer:
Jesus, I praise you that you love me so much you sent your son, Jesus, to save me. If that was the only thing you ever did for me, it would be more than enough. You want so much more for me. You, the almighty God of the universe, want to be in relationship with me. You want me to know the truth! You want everyone to be saved. You love me so much you fill me with your grace, comfort, and hope. You help me face all the challenges of this world. I don’t need to worry about the end times. I need to prepare for them by having a close relationship with you. You already have saved me. You already have won. I praise you, my wonderful Savior. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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