Giving Peace a Chance – Finding Peace

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Peace can be an elusive concept—in our world and in our souls. Perhaps that’s why it is so frequently referred to in an aspirational manner and is the subject of countless songs, stories, and sermons.

In the first installment of the Finding Peace series, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder dug into the topic by demonstrating how we often get in our own way when it comes to our pursuit of peace. In doing so, Ben emphasized the relationship between our reactivity—the way we react to circumstances in our life—and the anxiety we introduce to ourselves and others.

To illuminate this point, Ben asked us to consider how we act:

  • when we don’t have control;
  • when we don’t get what we want; and
  • when we don’t know what to do.

Too often, I don’t like my own answers to these questions. If I’m honest, it’s because my God-like responses are not based on surrendering to him my expectations for the conditions and comforts I desire.

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

The irony in our quest for peace is that God has already promised it to us. The question is, will we accept his gift? And if we are willing to give peace a chance, just how are we to do it?

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

You’ve likely read or heard this verse many times. And perhaps, like me, it struck you at first as overly simplistic—or even wishful thinking. But one of the things I’ve learned in my spiritual walk is how often we complicate things when we try to go it alone; and conversely, how God’s Word, when we believe it, reduces even the most complex matters to a simple equation of faith, love, and prayer.

As Ben noted, fear and God’s love are mutually exclusive. We cannot be gripped by them both at the same time. I love the imagery of being gripped by God because the Bible tells us how he longs to hold us, watch over us, and love us. And knowing that perfect love casts out fear can move us to understand that peace is attainable.

Questions:
How do you react to situations that challenge your comfort level? In these times, do you struggle to portray a “non-anxious presence”—either personally or to others?

How can you consistently evoke the promise of peace that is rooted in God’s love? In what ways can doing this benefit you and those with whom you interact?

Next Steps:
This week, dedicate some quiet time to consider Ben’s questions about your response to situations in which you don’t have control, don’t get what you want, or don’t know what to do. Examine how surrendering your situation to God can change the nature of your reactivity, reduce the anxiety you convey, and help you be a more positive presence with others.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your love and promise of peace. Help me to receive and make use of this gift through my thinking, my actions, and my prayers. Also, grant me the wisdom to trust in the power of your perfect love that will cast out my fears and cause me to thrive. 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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The Gift of Peace – Finding Peace

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Wow, what a wonderful message Lead Pastor Ben Snyder brought to us in our new series, Finding Peace. Ben talked about a powerful verse from the book of John that perfectly illustrates the topic.

John 14:27
“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Ben mentioned that God’s peace is not conditional peace based on  circumstances around us but rather provisional peace given regardless of the circumstances in our lives. And understanding that God provides our peace is the starting point to living in it.

In our world, the word “peace” implies to be without problems, conflicts, or stress—which seldom happens. The peace that Jesus offers is something that the world cannot give or take away from us. It’s peace in spite of a world full of confusion. It’s the peace we receive in knowing we are living according to God’s plan.

Philippians 4:6-7
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If he can speak one word and calm the wind and waves, he can do the same thing within a heart full of fear, anxiety, and depression. Instead of worrying about our struggles, we can bring our worries to him and experience peace.

2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.

Questions:
What areas of your life have you been trying to control?

Have you ever doubted God and wondered if we can have peace in a world full of confusion?

How do you find peace when you find your life is in pieces?

Next Steps:
Find peace in the middle of your troubles today. Ask Jesus to provide the peace that only he can offer. Do not let your heart be troubled, pray for him to bring peace into your life.

Prayer:
Lord, grant me your peace that is unlike any other. When I am tempted to be anxious, help me remember the promise of that peace. Thank you for giving me the ability to overcome anything before me and help me live by your ways through the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.


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


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Take Care of My Sheep – Where’s Norm?

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Some people are extroverts, some introverts, and some are a combination of both. But regardless of where we fall in this spectrum, we all crave some degree of community. We all want to be seen, heard, and understood. We want to be seen as valuable human beings who deserve respect. We want our needs to be seen as just as important as everyone else’s. But many times, it is those with the biggest needs that often get overlooked  most frequently.

Today, we will continue with the story of the good Samaritan, but we need to start with it’s origin:

Jesus encountered a Jewish lawyer who wanted to test him. The lawyer asked, “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus asked what the law of Moses says, to which the man replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Luke 10:27). But, “the man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29).

Jesus replied to the Jewish lawyer’s question by telling the story of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37).

Dr. Calvin Sweeney, lead pastor of The Tabernacle, taught us during the weekend message that “serving like Jesus produces connection with your neighbor.” And that connection can bridge our differences. He proposed that the question Jesus was asked by the Jewish lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” may not be as good of a question as, “To whom should I be a neighbor?”

Luke 10:36-37
36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. 37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

As we learned earlier in the week, serving like Jesus may mean serving outside of our comfort zones. It may mean reaching out to someone you barely know. And it may mean not knowing whether things will go exactly as you hoped and planned. Regardless, remember that when people receive a gift of service, they experience Jesus’ love. And Jesus loved and served others even when they rejected him. If you want to love like Jesus, you need to serve like Jesus.

John 21:16
Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

When Jesus returned to the apostles after his resurrection, he asked Simon Peter if he loved him. When Peter said “yes,” Jesus followed it by asking Simon to take care of his followers. If we say we love Jesus but don’t serve others, we are missing the point. Loving Jesus in the way he wants us to means we can’t help but serve other people. We aren’t able to contain all of the love that we receive from and give to Jesus—we just have to share it.

Love Jesus. And take care of his sheep.

Questions:
God, whom would you have me serve like Jesus today?

Is there a time when you were on the receiving end of someone serving like Jesus? Did you build a connection with this person? Explain.

Next Steps:
Identify someone who you can serve. Consider how it may build your connection with this person. Make a plan to follow through with your service. Maybe even invite some others to join you.

Prayer:
Dear God, please show me who you want me to serve. Let my ears and eyes be open to whom you are guiding me toward. Give me the boldness and the courage to follow through. I know that when I serve like you, I show your love, and this can build connections between me and others. I pray that you guide my words and my actions. Help me to be a good neighbor. 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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What’s In it for me? – Where’s Norm?

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Why do you do the things you do?

Why do you brush your teeth? Why do you work? Why do you go to church? Why are you reading this devotional?

Here’s the point: It is healthy to understand what truly motivates us.

I might be a little strange, but for me to understand somebody, I like to understand the motives for their actions, goals, ambitions, and words. You might be thinking: “That dude has trust issues!!!” And you might be right. However, I do the same self-assessment on myself. For me to dive in, I like to understand someone’s core purpose and motivation.

I want to help some friends move this weekend. Great! Why? Do I owe them because they helped me? Will I need their help in the future? Or, do I just genuinely love them and want to see them blessed?

The point is, I do a little soul searching to make sure my heart is pure and doesn’t have self-serving intent. Why do I do the things I do? What motivates me? I like to challenge myself and make sure I’m motivated by love—God-honoring love. I like to help because I love to share the hope that Jesus gave me. My faith is what motivates me. I was given the greatest gift—eternal salvation. To hoard that is a huge tragedy from my perspective, and just an excuse to be lazy.

Luke 10:34-35
34 “Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’”

My friends, the greatest battle I wage is the urge to think: “What’s In It For Me?” I need to fight the temptation to be self-serving and live outside my lazy, comfort zone. The Samaritan in this passage is a great reminder of that. I don’t believe he was motivated by WIIFM. He had compassion and sympathy and genuinely wanted to help another human.

There is so much need in this world. It’s time to step outside our comfort zone and allow God’s love to motivate us in everything we do.

Questions:
What motivates you?

How can you start to live outside your comfort zone?

Where is there room for improvement?

How can you improve your spiritual mindset when it comes to helping others?

Next Steps:
Start by getting to the core. What truly motivates you to do the things you do? Next, pray about ways God can use you. Be open and willing to serve others before you serve yourself.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, it is not always easy to serve others before we serve ourselves. Shine a light into the areas where we can improve. Help us to see our true intent and allow us to grow in the areas that need the most attention. May we continue to see the fruits of our labor and the reward in serving with a pure heart. We have been saved. Give us strength to use this gift to serve others. Amen.


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


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Can You Serve Like Jesus? – Where’s Norm?

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I spent 22 years as a police officer. Even though I was already 30 years old when I was hired, I quickly learned there was a lot about life I didn’t know.

I had grown up in a solid middle-class neighborhood in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Disagreements were handled without shouting or throwing things. People took care of their families and worked things out for the most part. There were difficulties and some tragedies, but people went to work and church, and their kids were in school,  scouts, and sports.

Before I became a police officer, I was a waitress and bartender. That’s where I learned about what other folks considered most important. I was older than my new recruit colleagues and knew more about life than they did. But I wasn’t well acquainted with the underside of life, where the focus is on you and you alone—doing and taking whatever suits you without a thought for what it will cost another.

After 11 years as a patrol officer, I became a sergeant, and soon after, a Jesus follower. My perspective changed as I encountered those whose life choices had led them down such different and difficult paths that they required police intervention to help them sort it out. Rather than view them with cynicism and a critical spirit, I began wanting to serve them in a better way. I began to view my job as a calling from God. My sole desire became serving others like Jesus did. That shift in my focus produced new compassion in me for those who needed my help.

People often ask me if going from a police sergeant to a pastor was a tough transition. I say, “No.” My job as a pastor is very similar to the one I had as a police officer. I still get to help people consider the benefits of turning their lives around.

Andy Rectenwald, the Oregon Campus pastor, taught us that “serving like Jesus produces compassion in you.” He talked about our friend Candy, whose compassion for her neighbors led her to create a ministry for them. Candy is passionate about showing her neighbors the love of Jesus by providing them with food. Her eyes light up when she speaks of those she has served with a meal and had conversations. Candy’s passion produces compassion in others for her ministry and a desire to help her fulfill the mission that God has given her.

The question, “Who is your neighbor?” is one we must ask, answer, and act upon. Candy has done just that! Be like Candy!

Luke 10:33 (emphasis added)         
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him.”

James 2:14-16 (emphasis added)
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? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

If you want to love like Jesus, serve like Jesus!

Questions:
Do you let compassion lead your service, or are you doing it out of a sense of obligation rather than a desire to please God? What in this world makes you angry with a holy discontent that you can address and help change?

Next Steps:
If you want to serve like Jesus, you have to feel compassion like Jesus. Find a cause you are passionate about this week, learn how you can make a difference, pray about it, then jump in!

Prayer:
Father God, I beg that you break my heart for what breaks yours! Help me see people, especially those who don’t look or act like me, as your precious and beloved children. Show me how to reach out to them in compassion with your love. Draw them and me to yourself as we love and serve you as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. 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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Lose Your Comfort – Where’s Norm?

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A lot of us choose to serve when it’s convenient or comfortable. However, Josh Whitlow taught us that “loving like Jesus gives us the courage to serve outside our comfort zones.” Joining the LivingItOut team made perfect sense for me because I’m a writer. I prefer to connect with people through written words. It’s fun, easy for me, and safe. God wired my and gifted me to serve in this way. God has also given me opportunities to serve outside of our comfort zone.

Most of us know what makes us uncomfortable, and we try to avoid those situations. Personally, I don’t always do well in crowds or engaging with people I don’t know. I’ve learned over the years that people need people. To help serve that need, and step outside of the box I put myself in, I try to be more intentional with everyday conversations. I went from avoiding eye contact with strangers in the grocery store to being OK with conversing. Usually, they do most of the talking because they need someone to listen.

Luke 10:32
“A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.”

We all fall victim to excuses when our conduct becomes inhuman.

Now, my intent is to engage with more people outside of my comfort zones. The nervousness still comes, and it invites excuses. But if I ignore the want to disengage, courage soon follows. As I grow in my faith, the courage to step up and step out continues to grow as well. Leading a Group didn’t fit my personality before, but now I can’t imagine not leading one.

Questions:
Where do you need to ask God for courage? Do you serve in uncomfortable situations? Are you ready to serve outside of the church community?

Next Steps:
Ask your NextSteps Pastor about opportunities to serve. Join a DreamTeam or  fill a need by becoming a Group leader. Stop making excuses and start making more connections in your daily life.

Prayer:
Lord, be my reminder that each day is another opportunity to live your purpose for me. Help me be more proactive in building relationships throughout my community. Grant me the courage to not settle for moments of convenience. Please continue to guide me when spreading your love and humble me when I feel others aren’t receiving your truth. Amen.


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


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Love Like Jesus – Where’s Norm?

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During the weekend message, Chris Baney, pastor of the Findlay campus, asked us, “What do you do when everything is changing and uncertain around you?” His answer: “You love others like Jesus, even if they don’t love you.”

That was exactly what I decided to do when my job was shut down, and I was stuck at home. I used my gifts of sewing and cooking to serve others, and I started driving a friend to the store and to do some errands. It started off really well, and I felt good about being able to help. However, over time, it became a bit inconvenient, and I forgot the bottom line: If you want to love like Jesus, you have to serve like Jesus.

Serving is not always easy, or convenient, or even pleasant! I have found myself being impatient and unpleasant when my already full schedule is disrupted by the phone ringing with yet another request! Shawn Bellner shared that “loving like Jesus gives us the CAPACITY to serve even when it’s inconvenient.”

Luke 10:30-31
30 … “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. 31 By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by.”

Why did the priest move on without helping? Maybe it was inconvenient, or he just couldn’t be bothered. Perhaps, he had a schedule to keep. Jesus, on the other hand,  was a master at eliminating hurry, and he can teach us to do the same.

Hand yourself over to Jesus, and he will teach you to enjoy being used as God’s hands and feet in every situation. Your “to-do” list will always be there, but the chance to make a difference in the life of another is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. When you serve others for the right reason and with a pure heart, it is truly a blessing to both the giver and the receiver.

If you feel hurried, impatient, or annoyed when you’re serving, check your heart. Serving with the wrong motives usually leads to you needing to apologize.  Apologies are rarely fun!  (This is the voice of experience sharing.)

Questions:
Question for Reflection: Am I too busy to see serving opportunities around me? Is it time to ruthlessly eliminate hurry from my life?

Next Steps:
Ask God to show you service opportunities in your home, workplace, and community. Check out opportunities to serve at cedarcreek.tv/outreach or cedarcreek.tv/serve.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for all that you have done, are doing, and will do for me in my life. Open the eyes of my heart to see where you are at work around me and nudge me to join you there. We were created to be helpful to each other and to give you all the glory. Place in my mind and heart a desire to serve you by serving those around me, and move my hands and feet for your glory.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Life’s Choices – Where’s Norm?

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Have you ever been afraid of an interview, a big test, a game, or speaking in front of a group of people? If so, you can remember the words of Joshua, “the Lord is with us: fear them not” (Numbers 14:9).

In week 4 of our “Where’s Norm series”, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke of the 5 P’s: Purpose, Picture, Plan, Part, and People. The Israelites were checking out the Promised Land, ready to enter, but not really prepared. Today we look at the fifth and final P for preparing for a new beginning in order to support the bottom line of “it’s not about being ready, but being prepared”.

When Israel was still in the wilderness, Moses sent one spy from each of the twelve tribes of Israel into Canaan. After 40 days, ten of the spies reported that it was impossible to enter the Promised Land because the people who lived there were huge and stronger than the children of Israel. Even though all twelve men traveled throughout the same land and saw the same things they reported two very different observations.

Ten of the spies saw many scary things and doubted God.  “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.” They said they saw giants “and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight …” Their lack of faith spread like an infection through the Israelites, who forgot all the miracles they had seen and doubted the nature of God.

Numbers 13:31-33
But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. 33 We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

The last two spies, Joshua and Caleb, told the children of Israel not to complain or to be afraid of the strength of humans. Instead, they should trust God and believed that God was with them, that nothing could stop them from conquering the residents and entering the land God promised them since the time of Abraham.

Numbers 13:30
But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!”

Despite Joshua and Caleb’s confidence and trust in God, the Israelites still did not believe.

The path is a lot quicker when we trust God right from the start. If the Israelites would have listened to Joshua and Caleb, they would have entered the Promised Land much quicker, instead, God sent them back to the wilderness for forty years, for their disobedience and insistence on their way over God’s. Unfortunately, as a result of their disbelief, the entire generation that disobeyed the Lord was never allowed to enter the Promised Land. It was only after the entire generation died that the children, now adults themselves, were allowed to be led into the Promised Land by Joshua.

Like the Israelites, we too have people sharing contradicting perspectives about our future ahead. Some people in our lives are spreading seeds of doubt. These seeds can be dangerous and keep us from the new thing that God wants to do in our lives. There are others who are encouraging. They cheer us on and embolden us to move forward. Their voices are necessary for us to experience God’s best. The people we need most in our lives, though, are those that point us to God. They remind us that God is worthy of our trust and that his plan is perfect for us. They are like Joshua and Caleb. When we have people like them in our lives, we can prepare for the new beginning that God has for us, no matter the challenges ahead.

Questions:
How’s your level of trust today?

Do you have people in your life that point out God’s goodness and encourage you to trust him?

Next Steps:
Joshua and Caleb trusted in God, but the Israelites struggled to trust God, just as we do sometimes. If you’re more like the ten spies than  Joshua and Caleb, you may feel like a “grasshopper” facing a giant in your life. All you need to do is trust, it’s as simple as that. Enter your promised land, walk with God wherever He takes you and watch God bless you!

Write down the names of the people who help you trust God’s plan. Give them a call this weekend and let them know how much you appreciate them. If you are struggling to add names to your list, ask God to bring people into your life that can fill this void. Consider getting more involved at church. Join a Group or DreamTeam where you can connect with others and develop relationships.

Prayer:
Abba Father, I confess that I sometimes trust in myself instead of trusting in you. Help me to surrender my ways of thinking to your ways and thank you for giving us the Holy Spirit to be our counselor. I thank you for each person you have put in my life, and I especially thank you for the ones that point me to you. I pray that I can be a Joshua and a Caleb that trusts you and helps others do the same. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Even still, God will – Where’s Norm?

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Psalm 27:13
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
    while I am here in the land of the living

When things do not feel normal, it is hard to move forward. It’s easy to let ourselves make excuses. We may say things like: “But I am too young to do this.”, “But I am not good enough for this.”, “But what if l say the wrong thing?” or “But I am too afraid to do that.” But… starts to become the mantra keeping us from God’s goodness. Often, the problem is not what keeps you from moving forward in life; it’s usually the excuses.

Over the last few days, we have covered the first three Ps of the 5 Ps of preparing for transition. We have looked at Purpose, Paint a picture, and Plan. Today, we are going to reflect on Part. As we step into something new we need to ask, “How am I involved in the bigger picture?” We all have a part in something bigger than ourselves and an opportunity to serve others in it.

This weekend, we read that the Israelites were being led by God into the Promise Land. A land that he had set aside for them.  Similarly, God is leading us to new things in our lives. For me, this season, in a sense, has led me to a new Promise Land. I recently moved in with some roommates. Leading up to this move, my mind started to flood with excuses. I even asked myself, “What if my roommates don’t like me and I get kicked out?” I almost allowed excuses to keep me from where God wanted me to be.

As we step into something new, we have a part to play in it. Every new beginning, we have is bigger than just ourselves and it involves others. It is important that we identify our part and ask God what he wants to do through us.

If I would have allowed my excuses to stop me from moving, I could have missed out on an opportunity to make a difference in other people’s lives. Since I have moved, I have realized that I have an opportunity to introduce my new neighbor to Jesus.  This amazing opportunity is one part in this new adventure I am on. It is one part of a bigger picture that God is painting.

Each of us is put on this planet, in this season, for a purpose. You and I have a purpose and we play a part in God’s bigger picture. As we recognize our part, it is important that we lay aside our excuses. Instead, we need to trust that God has created us special,  and he has equipped us with everything we need to live out the part he has given us.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Questions:
What excuses have you been making?

What part do you play in the bigger picture God has for you to make a difference in someone’s life?

What keeps you from being confident in God’s purpose?

Next Steps:
Write down any problems you are focusing on.

Learn more about your purpose and the part you play in God’s plan by attending GrowthTrack.

Step into opportunities around you by joining a Group  or Join others at a 2nd Saturday Serve. On the second Saturday of each month, we come together to demonstrate God’s love in practical ways by serving others and to continue the mission of our annual Serve Day throughout the year.

Prayer:
God, it is so easy to get caught up in all the excuses. I pray that they will fall away so I can see you more clearly. Please open my eyes to the part that I play in the bigger picture and show me who is in need and those whom I can share the love of Jesus with to make a difference in their lives. Thank you, even as I make excuses not to act, that you keep your promises. I am on this planet in this season for a purpose. Despite all the problems going on, you have given me a purpose. Show me what I can do to carry this forward. In Jesus’ name, amen!


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


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!


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What’s the Plan Stan? – Where’s Norm?

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The ”P” for today is Plan. After we come to terms with the fact the old normal is over, we must put it to rest. We commemorate and mourn what we’ve lost, then take time to be with God, trusting his will for our new normal and determining our purpose.

In Numbers 13, after God took the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, it took only forty days to reach the Jordan River banks bordering the land of Canaan on the other side. When the twelve spies came back from their reconnaissance mission, to describe what God’s promised land looked like, ten of the spies said there was no way they could take the land from the occupants who were as large as giants. Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, assured the Israelites the land was bountiful, and God had promised it to them.

Unfortunately, the fear-mongering of the ten other spies frightened the people badly, so they refused to cross the Jordan and demanded Moses take them back to the wilderness by the Red Sea. You see, the people were ready, but they weren’t prepared. So they ended up living in the wilderness for 40 years until those who disobeyed had died. God would only allow their adult children under Joshua’s leadership to cross over into the Promised Land.

The moral of the story is to trust God, lean on him, and obey his commands. He has placed a time, Bridges refers to as the Neutral Zone, between the end of accepting the loss of our comfort zone and the beginning of the new normal. What are we supposed to do there, you ask? Focus on God, pray, wait, and plan. This is how to ready yourself for the new normal. Refuse to let your tendency to be a “Control Expert” or fear of danger and failure lead you or stop you. Let the Lord God Almighty, Savior of your soul, be your guide and guardian as you plan for what is to come.

Ben suggests we consider planning to serve God in the new normal. There are ministry opportunities galore here at CedarCreek. My husband and I took Ben up on that suggestion and attended the Group Leadership class after the service. So now we can begin planning what kind of group(s) we are interested in leading. Also, being on the Dream team, or First Impressions cleaning team or serving with teens or children are ways to bless others as well.

So get going, leave what’s gone behind you, and follow the Lord to your new normal.

Questions:
Do you trust the power and perfection of God Almighty to lead you? If not, why not? Are you asking yourself, “Why me?” because things have changed in your life that you don’t like? Is that helping you?

Next Steps:
 If you haven’t turned control of your life over to our Savior Christ Jesus’ loving care, do so.

If you have questions about salvation you need to have answered, let us know. You can fill out this online connect card, and we will reach out to you soon.

If you would like to know more about the events of Israelites’ 40 years, read from Numbers 12 through Deuteronomy 34 when Moses dies. A lot happens in 40 years. By the way, if they had not rebelled, the 40-year journey would have only taken about eleven days.

Prayer:
Father God, the one true God, Creator of all that exists and lover of my soul, I’m sorry for ever doubting your sovereignty over all things, and I’m sorry for doubting your many promises to me. Promises that you go before me, behind me, and with me all the days of my life. Please forgive me for my fear and anxiety during a time of upheaval and uncertainty. You have already determined its role and my destiny. Thank you for your love and protection. Please help me to plan with you at the center of my plans and help me to wait serenely for the time when you say “go.” 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.


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:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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