The Nature of God – Closer

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I have trouble focusing and resting in dead silence. It’s like my mind can’t turn off. I use white noise through rain sounds app to help me sleep. I can choose from rain on the leaves, peaceful water, ocean rain, thunderstorms, etc. A selection of ocean rain mixed with wind and thunderstorms calms me the most. It takes me to a place where sleep restores me, instead of leaving me restless.

During the day, I open the front door and listen to the birds chirping. In California, I’d sit on my porch with a cup of coffee and feel the ocean breeze traveling from a few miles away, then I’d sit with my wife for a daily devotional. The sounds, sights, and presence of nature prepare me to get closer to God. It’s a reminder that God never stops speaking.

Psalm 23:2-3
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.

We don’t always know or understand what we need in our lives. It’s also true that we don’t know all of the things we should avoid. The noise of the world and the busyness of our minds makes us susceptible to being led astray. God’s desire is to lead us to righteousness. He restores what we previously lost.

From the moment God said, “Let there be light,” he has never stopped speaking (Genesis 1:3). Sometimes, it’s difficult to hear him because we don’t know how to be quiet. For some of us, using God’s creation to quiet the noise of our busy lives is the most effective way to connect with him. He speaks the loudest when we’re quiet.

Questions:
Do you feel that there’s a distance between you and God? What steps have you taken to strengthen your relationship with him?

Do you connect best with God through nature?

Next Steps:
Try starting your day by opening yourself up to hear God’s voice.  Take a walk without any distractions to appreciate the natural world around you. Use that time to rest and restore before jumping into the daily grind. Read your Bible to see how God took the time to speak through creation.

Prayer:
God, thank you for the beauty in the world you gave us. I hope I continue to appreciate the wonders of your creation and use them to relax my mind and restore my soul when necessary. I ask that you continue to guide me to a life of purpose and lead me away from the loudness that can deafen me from hearing your voice. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Abide in the Vine – Closer

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It is amazing to me how much Jesus has changed me in the last several years. For many years, I strove harder and harder to earn Jesus’ love and approval. I tried to do everything “right” and constantly fell short. This was so frustrating, and it made me feel bad about myself. Slowly, I started to abide in Jesus. I began to connect with him, to love him dearly, to trust and depend on him, to obey him, and to let him change me.

A close relationship with God begins with spending time with him and getting to know him. This is accomplished through Bible study, prayer, meditation on verses, praise and worship, gratitude, and fellowship with other Jesus followers. As you grow closer to Jesus, he fills you with his hope, peace, and joy, and he helps you to fulfill the purpose he has for your life. In other words, he helps you to bear fruit.

Jesus commands us to abide in him.

John 15:4-5 ESV
4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Just as a branch cannot bear fruit without the vine, we cannot bear fruit without abiding in Jesus. As we abide in him, our faith grows, and we are able to trust him more.

We learn to rely on him instead of ourselves. We are able to bask in his presence and let him change us. We begin to understand how much he loves us and that we don’t have to earn that love—we just need to accept it.

Over time, we become so peace filled and joyful we want to serve him. And as we serve him and tell others about him, we bear his amazing fruit.

Questions:
What does it mean to abide in Jesus? How are you abiding in Jesus?  What fruit are you bearing?

Next Steps:
Carefully read John 15:1-11. Meditate on these verses, and think about what Jesus is trying to tell you. Journal your thoughts.

Take part in the text campaign by texting “summer” to 419-419-0707.

Complete your spiritual pathway assessment.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am overwhelmed that you, the King of kings, want to have a deep relationship with me. I am so thankful that you love me so much and that I don’t have to earn your love. I just need to accept it. Help me to abide in you at all times and to love others as you have loved me. I praise you for changing me and filling me with your love, peace, and joy. Please work through me to bear much fruit. 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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Up Close and Personal – Closer

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This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder kicked off our new series Closer to remind us that God wants us to know him as intimately as he knows us. What does it mean to truly be close to God, and how do we accomplish this in a world where, at times, he can seem so distant? Is it even worth the effort?

Let me ask you this: Knowing that God is the Creator of all we enjoy each day and loves you so much that he sent his Son to die for your sins, wouldn’t you want to be as up close and personal with him as humanly possible? I believe he has things he wants us to know about him.

While it is true, on this Earth, we cannot physically see him, hear him or reach out and touch him, there are still many ways we can draw close to him. For the rest of this week, you will learn about abiding in God—to remain or stay close to him—and some of the pathways people use to connect with him more deeply.

For example, we humans tend to stay in places we feel connected to, like a favorite chair or couch where you gravitate to relax. Or a favorite place or room you head to when you want some alone time. Or what about a favorite vacation site you frequent because you feel connected to something or someone there?

I like to take a drive now and then to the area where I grew up—because I still feel a connection there, and it makes me feel good to reminisce. Similarly, if you find your best method to connect with God and use it to draw closer to him, you will be more likely to remain, or abide, in him. Only then will you truly know him, which is the most fulfilling way to live.

Ben described 9 pathways people use to connect with God. Realize what might work for you, may not work for someone else. We each have to find the pathway(s) that works best for us. This doesn’t come naturally; it takes a conscious effort and a choice to move towards him and away from things not of him. But in the end, it will result in a closer relationship with the Lord.

James 4:8
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

The bottom line is: Connect his presence to your present.

God wants an up-close and personal relationship with you right now. Shouldn’t you want the same?

Questions:
How close are you to God?

Do you abide in him or just make an occasional visit?

Next Steps:
Learn more about the 9 pathways to connect with God. Take this assessment to see which one fits you best.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me so much that you want an up-close and personal relationship with me. I believe there are things you want me to know about you, and I want to know everything I can. Please help me to find the best way for me to connect, draw closer, and abide in your fulfilling presence. Amen!


This post was written by Ned Miller. Ned loves serving through writing on the LIO team, prayer team, group leader and as a greeter. He loves spending time with his family and working on his model railroad.


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For the Cause of Christ – Be You

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The Bible is a book full of people who epitomized what it looks like to Be You—to use your gifts to serve the cause of Christ. All Christians are called to share the Good News of salvation that only comes through accepting the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are also called to show God’s love through prayer and acts of kindness to those around us.

Many of you are asking, “How?” How do we, flawed and fearful “mere mortals,” use our time on earth to share God’s message and care for others, so they may also know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and live a life of deep meaning and grace?

Thankfully, the Bible is full of examples of people without obvious, outstanding abilities, who loved God and served him right where they were.

Ananias, a tent maker in Damascus, was visited by God and told to take a message to the infamous Christ-hater and persecutor, Saul of Tarsus. Ananias may have questioned God’s sanity because he reminded the Lord of Saul’s hatred toward Christians. The Lord then explained,

Acts 9:15-18
15 “…Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. 16 And I will show him how much he must suffer for my name’s sake.”
17 So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18 Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized.

Later, God sent Paul (formerly called Saul) a dream of a man from Macedonia who was pleading for help, so Paul traveled to Macedonia (Acts 16:9-10). When he arrived, he met a wealthy and well-connected woman named Lydia, who was a high-end purveyor of rare purple fabric. Once she heard the salvation message from Paul, she became a follower of Jesus and assisted Paul and his missionary team in many ways (Acts 16:11-40).

And then there was Barnabas.

Acts 11:24-26
24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

If regular, everyday people like Ananias, Lydia, and Barnabas could do it, so can we. Yes, we’re flawed and have limitations and fears that hold us back, but we’ve also been given incredible, unique gifts and circumstances. Like them, we need to trust God, choose to step out of our comfort zones, and serve where God sends us to serve.

Be You—for the cause of Christ.

Questions:
What’s holding you back? Is it fear? Of what—failure, judgment, your limitations? Go with a servant’s heart and leave the outcome to the Lord.

Next Steps:
Sign up for and attend GrowthTrack at your CedarCreek campus. It is composed of four, free, 1-hour classes taught the first four Sundays of every month. You will learn who you are in Christ, identify your God-given gifts, and receive some suggestions on how to use those gifts to serve others.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for saving us from the cost of our sins and former rejection of your sovereignty over our lives. Please grant me the desire and opportunity to grow closer to you through Bible study, church attendance, and daily prayer. Help me to be curious about what adventures you have for me through my openness to serve you wherever you send me.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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God’s Got This – Be You

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Although I was raised in the church since I was twelve years old, I mostly just went through the motions. To be honest, I never really read the Bible until the past few years. I believed it, I trusted its truth, but I just didn’t get it. I knew it was God’s story, but it seemed outdated, and I struggled to relate to all those people with unfamiliar names, using words and parables I didn’t understand.

But as I’ve committed to spending more time in his Word, I’ve come to realize that although the Bible is God’s story, it’s also our story. A story about ordinary people, using their unique gifts from God to make extraordinary impact. These people didn’t have it all figured out, but they followed God and left the rest up to him.

Acts 11:22-26
22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

In Acts 11, we see Barnabas leaning into his spiritual gift of encouragement, and as a result, many people become Christ followers. Since Barnabas was human, I can only imagine he voiced some doubts: “What difference can I make? I’m just a regular guy. I’m no Moses or Abraham or Jacob or …”

But Barnabas chose to take a faithful step into what God was calling him toward, despite not having it all figured out. Because of his trust, he ended up making a tremendous impact on the early church.

Charles Stanley said, “Obey God and leave the consequences with him.” God does not ask us to meet certain metrics or goals or outcomes. He’s given us each a unique set of spiritual gifts, and all he asks is that we use it. He’ll take care of the rest.

Ephesians 3:20
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

The Bible is the word of God. And it’s also a story about people. People who want to be in control. People who question God. People who feel unqualified. People who worry. People who are concerned that, even though he’s God, he just might be overlooking some important aspect of a situation.

Real people.

We may not have it all figured out, but God does. He gave us each unique gifts to use for his purpose. When we trust that he’s in control and allow him to work through us, there’s no need for us to worry about the outcome—God’s got this.

Questions:
Is there anything holding you back from using your spiritual gifts to do God’s work?

How can you move toward letting go of the need to have it figured out so that you can trust God with the outcomes?

Next Steps:
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, attend GrowthTrack to learn more about how God uniquely created you.

If you know your spiritual gifts, take some time to pray and meditate on them. Listen for what God might be calling you toward.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for making me uniquely me and for the spiritual gifts you’ve given me. I pray that I can use these gifts to make a difference for your Kingdom. Help me to let go of any control or fear or doubt that I am too ordinary to do your work. Help me to listen for your calling and to step in when I hear it, leaving the rest up to you. In your name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Ryan Leone. Ryan is grateful to help people experience Jesus through the written word. He and his wife Mia are Ohio natives who now live in Boulder, Colorado with their dog Bella. Ryan spends most of his time running trails through the Rocky Mountains, exploring God’s beautiful creation.


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Ordinary People Making an Extraordinary Difference – Be You

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One of the things I love about the Bible is that God used ordinary people, like you and me, to make an extraordinary impact on this world. The people in the Bible weren’t perfect—they had their own issues, and they frequently messed up. Yet they were willing to obey God and allow him to work through them. This gives me hope and encouragement that God can make a difference in this world through you and me.

God has given each of us spiritual gifts to help accomplish his plan. One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement. I love to support others, give them hope, and praise them. God often prompts me to send an encouraging text, give praise, or thank someone. It is amazing when we use our spiritual gifts—we shift the focus off ourselves to meet the needs of someone else.

Barnabas was an ordinary man from the Bible, who shared my gift of encouragement.

Acts 4:36a
For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”).

Imagine how encouraging Barnabas must have been to receive that nickname. People who encourage others fill the rest of us with joy. They give us hope when we are struggling and strengthen our resolve when we need it most. They are often positive and upbeat, and bring out the best in us. They are people we want to be around.

Barnabas was able to see the best in others, and he played a pivotal role in the apostles’ acceptance of Saul into their ministry. Before Saul’s conversion, it was his mission to arrest and murder Christians. Naturally, they were afraid of him.

Acts 9:26-27
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to meet with the other believers, but they were all afraid of him. They did not believe he had truly become a believer! 27 Then Barnabas brought him to the apostles and told them how Saul had seen the Lord on his way to Damascus and how the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them that Saul had preached boldly in the name of Jesus in Damascus.

Barnabas had the courage to personally take Saul to the apostles and tell them how much he had changed. As a result, Saul went on to become a very influential apostle and lead many people to Christ. Barnabas continued to tell others about Jesus and encourage them in their faith (Acts 11:22-23).

Acts 11:24
Barnabas was a good man full of the Holy Spirit and strong in the faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

Barnabas was an ordinary man who used his spiritual gifts to make an extraordinary difference. What’s stopping you from using your gifts to make a mark in the world around you?

Questions:
What are your spiritual gifts? How are you using them? How do you feel about God using ordinary people to do extraordinary things? How are you using your gifts to make a difference?

Next Steps:
Complete GrowthTrack to learn your spiritual gifts. Join the DreamTeam or a Group.

Prayer:
God, I am overwhelmed that you love me so much. I often fall short, and yet you can still use me to accomplish great things. Help me to listen and obey your promptings. Fill me with your joy and peace, and help me to make a difference. Amen.


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


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Ordinary People, Extraordinary God – Be You

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Growing up, my teachers and family members never failed to mention the stark contrast between my brother and me. He was naturally charming and energetic; I was more reflective and thoughtful. While he was never home because of his impressively jam-packed schedule, I would often sit in my room asking, “What is wrong with me?”

It was not until I grew in my faith that I learned that God gives each of us unique spiritual gifts that all work together for his glory. It is by no coincidence that God places us where we are in our lives—he meets each of us where we are and gives us opportunities to share the love of Jesus with those around us.

Psalm 139:13-16:
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

In this passage, the writer marvels at how elaborately and intricately God created each one of us. God knew every single nuance of our being, even before we were born! He knew our hair color, our personality types, and our passions and hobbies. He knew where we would be born, what our circumstances would look like, and which spiritual gifts would best suit us and those around us.

After many prayers of discernment, I was able to identify my spiritual gifts and live a life that allows me to make a lasting impact on the lives of those around me. I found that I was blessed with the gifts of encouragement, shepherding, and teaching. It finally became clear to me that, by tapping into the gifts that God gave me instead of trying to be someone else, I could use my gifts to their full potential—and make my mark on the Kingdom of God.

Instead of listening to the little voices in the back of my head telling me what I “should” be, I chose to intentionally live the way that God created me to be. And that is my prayer for you.

Questions:
What gifts has God given you in your own life? How can you use them to show others the love of Jesus?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack to find the specific spiritual gifts that God has given you.

Read the story of Barnabas (Acts 13-15) this week. Discuss how God used Barnabas, an ordinary person, to make an extraordinary impact on the Kingdom of God.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for creating each one of us with unique gifts and a purpose. You knew my purpose long before I was even born, and you have a plan for my life. Help me to discern and develop my spiritual gifts so I can use them for your glory. Please help me fight against comparison and insecurity. Instead, make me firmly planted and secure in your promises. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer, a first-time contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Make Your Mark – Be You

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Do you want to make a difference with your life?

I’d venture to guess most people would answer “yes!” to this question.  Now, let me ask you another…

Do you feel like you are making a difference with your life?

I think many of us feel like we aren’t living impactful lives, because we aren’t doing “big things” to make a mark on the world. However, over the past four weeks in our Be You series, we’ve been exploring how ordinary people can make an extraordinary difference.

I recently watched a documentary called Free Burma Rangers about a humanitarian group started by a man named Dave Eubank. Using his God-given gifts, along with the skills and expertise he had developed as a special forces officer, God used Eubank to establish an organization to provide help, hope, and love to the ethnic groups oppressed by the Burmese government.

While I found the efforts of the organization impressive, I was really inspired by Eubank’s incredible faith. He didn’t set out to create FBR. In fact, his original goal was to help just one person, thinking “I’ll help one person, and they’ll be glad and I’ll be glad.” Eubank stepped into what God called him to, and God grew things from there. At times, he and his team found themselves in risky, life-threatening situations, and Eubank would think, “No way, Lord, this is crazy!” But then, feeling a prompting to obey, he stepped out in faith to do what seemed impossible. Not that there wasn’t tragedy sometimes, but Eubank offered what he had, obeyed God, and trusted him with the consequences. In the process, he made a mark with many people coming to faith.

We see this same strong faith in Barnabas in the book of Acts.

Acts 11:24
Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And many people were brought to the Lord.

This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder unpacked how Barnabas (aka Son of Encouragement) served God with what he had and made his mark. Whether it was donating money from a real estate deal (Acts 4:36-37), encouraging others to trust Paul after his incredible conversion (Acts 9:27), or building up and teaching the early Christians (Acts 11:26), Barnabas was faithful.

Although much of what he did may seem mundane, Barnabas made a mark in this world and was remembered in Scripture for bringing many people to the Lord. What he did wasn’t glamorous, but he faithfully offered God what he had, obeyed and trusted God with the consequences and, ultimately, made a mark in the lives of others.

Continue reading this week as we unpack how Barnabas made his mark and learn how you can too.

Questions:
What is something you want to be remembered for?

What is a passion you have that you could share with others?

What is one area in which you could obey God and trust him with the consequences?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack if you haven’t already. If you have, review your spiritual gifts and consider how you can step into using your personality, place, and passions to share the life-changing adventure of Jesus with others.

Pray about leading a Group this summer! A Group is a great way to share your passion with others and introduce people to Jesus and the life-changing adventure with him. Attend Group Leader training to learn more about leading a Group.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for all of the unique ways you have equipped me to share your love with others. I am not always as quick as I should be to step into these opportunities. Help me be bold for you, Lord, and spread your love to others right where I am. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kelly Pagel, the Director of the LivingItOut.


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The Impact – Be You

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I remember when my kids were younger, around 2002, an event called “Impact” came to their elementary school. It was a performance of rollerbladers, BMX bike riders, and skateboarders. The show was phenomenal and really impressed the kids!

The performers were just kids who wanted to tell other kids their stories about the “Impact” God had on their life! And although their stunts were amazing, it was their testimonials for Christ that made a lasting impact. I know of at least two kids from that class who became pastors, and others are in the field doing God’s work. That particular, seemingly small, intersection went on to create a legacy with those kids, now adults, impacting lives for Jesus.

Lydia’s story is also one of continued legacy. There wasn’t just impact in that one moment, but this intersection created a ripple effect for the future.

Philippians 4:15
As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.

Philippians 4:22
And all the rest of God’s people send you greetings, too, especially those in Caesar’s household.

Remember, Lydia was a dealer in fine purple cloth, which was rare and expensive. This got her an audience with the more affluent people of her community. I imagine she had lots of friends and clients in high places, and many opportunities to share her beliefs. (Followers cannot help but share the love of Christ with others when given the chance!) As she amassed wealth from selling her cloth, she was able to provide for the needs of Paul and the others.

As a public-school teacher, I’ve had opportunities to serve and to share the love that Jesus so freely shares with me. There have been so many chapters and changes and adventures! Saying “yes” to God’s call in your life can be so exciting and invigorating!

Open your ears, heart, and hands and serve God where you are with what you have. Only God knows what might be possible if you open yourself to his intersections in your life.

Questions:
What gifts do you have that God can use? Who are the people in your life that you can influence for Christ?

Next Steps:
If you don’t know your spiritual gifts, take GrowthTrack and find out. Sign up for a Group. Volunteer on the DreamTeam or for Serve Day. Keep trying new things until you find that place that brings you immeasurable joy!

Prayer:
Father, quiet my mind so I can hear from you. Help me to open my heart and trust you, Lord!  Give me faith as I open my hands. I am so blessed that you have invited me into the work that you are doing in this world! Protect me from the enemy who prowls and tries to stop me.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep. Julie loves her husband John and their combined five adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite activities are walking their two dogs and golfing. She loves sharing her faith and is grateful for the chance to be a LIO contributor.


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Receiver to Giver – Be You

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My younger sister, Mary, is in kindergarten, just learning how to read. The first time she tried, she stuttered out every sound, taking forever to figure out just a few words. Now, several months later, she can read a whole book, and with much less hesitation. I love watching her progress, seeing her learn to love stories!

The Book of Acts (the acts of the apostles) follows stories of the first church leaders. One was Paul, the first Christian to spread the Gospel by traveling. On a journey to Greece, Paul stopped in Philippi, where he spoke with some women gathered by the river.

Acts 16:14
One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.

Far from her home, Lydia was likely either a young widowed mother or a single woman. Either way, it would not have been easy for a woman to live without a husband or relatives nearby. She poured her work into selling purple cloth, which was very challenging to make. Yet, when Paul came to the river, Lydia listened.

Lydia already worshiped God, but she didn’t have a personal relationship with him. Lydia had never been told the Good News about Jesus until Paul shared it with her.

Acts 16:15
She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed.

Acts 16:40
When Paul and Silas left the prison, they returned to the home of Lydia. There they met with the believers and encouraged them once more. Then they left town.

Hearing the Good News about Jesus changed Lydia’s life. She went from just worshiping God to having a personal, everlasting relationship with him. It didn’t stop there. Lydia’s household was baptized alongside her, and she repeatedly opened her home to Paul and the other apostles. Lydia received Jesus’ love—and she wanted others to have it too—so she gave her home and her time to them.

My sister, Mary, is now learning to write her own stories. She has gone from reading books to creating her own, from passively enjoying a story to actively making a story for others to find joy in. This is the adventure God called Lydia into, and it is the one he invites us into as well. God says, “Come, beloved, join me in loving others!”

Questions:
What limitations do you believe prevent you from opening up to God’s invitation? How can you open yourself up to him? Where is God calling you to stop being passive and take a step on his adventure?

Next Steps:
Pay attention to where God is calling you. Attend GrowthTrack or join the DreamTeam. Find someone to pray for or extend an invitation to church. Before rolling out of bed, waking up your kids, walking into work, or going up to the cashier—ask God to show you how to demonstrate his love.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for choosing to use ordinary people, like me. I have no qualifications or degrees in the work you do, yet you have chosen me anyway. What an honor and a gift! Please, keep me open to your call. Open my eyes to the work you do in, around, and through me. Your love is so incredible—I get to both receive and give it! Amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


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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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan