Persevere

Today’s Scripture: 2 Thessalonians 1

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Thessalonians shortly after writing the first letter in order to correct a misunderstanding about the Lord’s return and to encourage persecuted believers. This was a difficult time for the church in Thessalonica because of the violent persecution from the surrounding culture.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-5 (NIV)           
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5 All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Paul indirectly pointed out the perseverance of believers by thanking God for their increasing faith and love, which is evidence of maturing Christianity. Notice that he wrote “ought to always thank God.” There is a spiritual obligation to thank God when he accomplishes great things in the lives of Christ followers. Paul used their church as an example for other churches because of their perseverance. He also emphasized God’s affirmation to keep going despite their persecution. The Christian life does not promise to be free from suffering. Jesus suffered so that we could have a relationship with him and one day see his Kingdom. Suffering is real, but so is the coming Kingdom of God! It is not written in the fine print: suffering is boldly written throughout the Scriptures.

1 Peter 4:12-13
12 Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 Instead, be very glad – for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world.

2 Timothy 3:12
Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Paul also wrote about God will defend those who suffer for his name. Retribution is the responsibility of God alone. He will “pay back trouble” to those who persecute Christ followers when and how he decides. We need not worry about fighting our battles— God will fight them for us.

2 Thessalonians 1:6-7a
6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.

Questions:
Are you living your life with perseverance? Do you consider suffering as a way that God perfects Christ followers? Do you seek revenge on those who persecute you?

Next Steps:
Consider how you view suffering. Journal the ways you are suffering and how this is perfecting you to be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God. If you cannot consider suffering as a way of purification, pray that God will help you see as he sees.

Prayer:
May our God make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.


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


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Be Ready!

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5

As an elementary school student, I rode the bus to and from school. Some days I was up on time, eating a wonderful breakfast my loving mom had prepared, out the door with my things, and at the bus stop in plenty of time to catch the bus. Some days I had to sprint out the door and through the backyard to the next stop. I knew the bus was coming. I believed the bus would come. This is why I prepared to get on the bus each school day.

On Sundays, I woke in plenty of time to get myself ready and into the car before my dad could call out, “The bus is leaving!” which  was a great warning to be IN the car and not left behind. I knew we were going to church. I believed the car (my dad) would leave me behind if I was not in it!

Paul uses Chapter 5 to help us “be on the bus” when the Day of the Lord comes. We know Jesus will return and we are to be diligently watchful. We are not to slumber and be lazy as the world is. Paul is reminding the church in Thessalonica that Jesus will come unannounced, and many will be unprepared. We should be ready: “Having put on the breastplate  of faith and love, and the helmet of the hope of salvation.”

Just as a child waits expectantly for a promised surprise, we too are to be looking for Jesus’s return with faith, hope, and love.

The remainder of the letter is an urging to respect Christians who are correcting these newer believers. God is calling on the church to revere one another in the work he has for them. Paul sums up the whole letter with his most basic instructions: “See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances,  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. ”

As we wait for his coming, may we be found blameless,  prepared, and waiting as a child waits: hopefully, joyfully,  and expectantly.

Questions: 

How can you get ready for the coming of the Lord? Who can you encourage to be prepared while waiting for the Lord? What one step will you take to be ready?

Next Steps: 

Join a small group to encourage one another in the Word. Attend GrowthTrack to find out how you can get plugged in and serve. GrowthTrack will also help you discover your gifts. Do a word study on the rapture, faith, hope, or salvation.

Prayer: 
Thank you, Lord, for the great promise that you are coming to get us and take us to heaven with you! Your Word may not tell us exactly when,. but your promise tells us you will return. Thank you for giving us the hope of eternity with you and one another. We need help staying diligent and alert. Give us the desire to do your will and not be like the world. Help us to meet with you daily, to be encouraged, and to share your hope and salvation with those in our path. Thank you. Amen.


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


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Raising The Bar

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 4

Much of the fourth chapter in 1 Thessalonians emphasizes living to please God.

1 Thessalonians 4:1
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.

Paul is “urging” those in Thessalonica to “do so even more.” Now there is a challenge! To “live in a way that pleases God … do so even more.” Some may ask, “How will I know when enough is enough?”

There was a time when that question surfaced in my mind. But it has been replaced with the reality  that there is no end to “do so even more” this side of heaven. Thankfully, for me, that reality is not a burden in the least. That reality is quite the opposite—it is a relief!

The inner weavings of Scripture make an undeniably profound impact on this soul. Micah 6:8 is one such passage:  “No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Please note, this is not a multiple-choice statement. This passage does NOT imply one selection is all that is required.

Thankfully, God does not turn his back on me when I fail “to do so even more.” He also does not beat me with a stick to perform (behave) a certain way. But, as my personal relationship with him deepens, my genuine desire to live in a way that pleases him deepens. When my desire to please God intensifies, Satan’s animus toward me intensifies.

This never-ending spiritual battle for my soul compels me to continue on the path presented by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14.  “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

Embracing the opportunity (not requirement) to “live in a way that pleases God … do so even more” truly is a privilege.

Questions:
What paths in your spiritual journey need rerouting? Is there a path where a U-turn would benefit you and others in your life?

Next Steps:
Pray and ask God to reveal specific areas hindering your ability to please him “even more.”  Examine the things battling for the devotion of your heart. Pray for his strength to infuse you where currently there is a lack of strength.

Prayer: 
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and accepting me where I am on my spiritual journey. It is my desire to live in a way that pleases you. Stretch me beyond myself in living for you in all areas of life. I invite you into my life to show me how to trust you more, love you deeper, and grow my faith. May the changes be evident to those closest to me. Amen. 


This post was written by Karen Peck, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Love Unconditionally

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3

A few weeks ago, I overheard a conversation between two people in a setting outside of church. Based on the conversation, it was clear that they both considered themselves Christ-followers. One told the other that she had a family member who was living in conditions that she thought would not be approved of by God. Because this family member lived this way out of their own free will, she said she could not wish them the best for their future despite loving them.

This conversation really stuck with me, and I have thought of it many times since. I cannot understand how someone could declare that they love someone, yet are not willing to wish them the best for their future—even if they did not agree with all their choices.

In this week’s chapter, Paul is writing a letter to let the Thessalonians to let them know how happy he is that Timothy reported back to him about their continued faith. But he also talks about how they ought to love.

1 Thessalonians 3:12 (NIV)
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else.

While Paul had given the Thessalonians instructions on how to change their lives to glorify God and live as God had instructed, he did also say that they should not only love each other but everyone. Presumably, he was referring to people outside the Christian community, which would have been people who did not know and follow Jesus. In other words, our love should be unconditional.

If I am not wishing a loved one “well for their future,” I am effectively withholding something that should come naturally.  My love and hopes should not be dependent on whether or not I approve of the choices they make. If I love someone, my intentions should always be the best for them, and that includes desiring they live a happy and fulfilled life. If I do not wish them the best for their future, then I am only a very short step away from saying that I hope deep down that God punishes them for their life choices. Choices which I do not approve because I claim to know that God would not approve of them either.

So, for me, I choose to encourage others to live a life that is full of love and kindness. If they do not follow the path that I envisage best for them, it is not my place to judge them. I will nevertheless still pray that they have a wonderful future ahead of them.

Questions:
Is there anyone in your life whom you are secretly or not so secretly judging because of the choices they make in their life? Do you still wish the best for their future? If not, why? Could you bring yourself to let them know that your love for them is unconditional?

Next Steps:
Make a list of three things you could do to show your unconditional love for someone whose life choices you do not approve of. Then go ahead and do them. Report back to a fellow Christ-follower what happened.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you so much for showing us unconditional love and endless patience. Please let me realize that it is not my place to judge anyone’s choices but instead to show them the same love, grace, and mercy you have shown all of us. I do not know what I would do without your love and those whom I love in my life. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Protestant church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters. She is currently looking for someone who would like to serve the Lord with her.


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It Is Not About Me

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2

One day, I started a conversation with my coworker about God. Our talk led me to believe that she may not know Jesus as her personal savior.  I felt that she had an open heart toward him, but not a relationship with him.

As I talked with her, she shared a number of questions with me. I answered the questions that I could. And for the ones I couldn’t answer, I told her I would research and get back to her, but I never did. The reason I never did was because I felt like I had to have all the perfect answers.

In our reading today, Paul shows us that sharing the good news of Jesus isn’t about saying everything perfectly or saying what we think others want to hear. The gospel is about grace, hope, and love. It about Jesus — not us.  It is about who he is and what he has done for us. Telling others our authentic story without hidden agendas or mixed motives is how we should share him with others.

1 Thessalonians 2:5-6
5Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.

During the conversation with my coworker, I thought I should flatter her with all the answers instead of letting God speak through me with the gospel message. The gospel should be at the center of my heart because it should be what I am living for. When I make sharing the good news of Jesus with others about me, it makes for a cheap, false gospel that does not give people hope and is ultimately disobedient to how God calls us to share it.

Questions:
What keeps you from sharing the gospel? Are you able to confidently share your personal story of following Jesus? Could you tell someone what the spiritual journey God is inviting us on looks like?

Next Steps:
What steps have you taken in these areas of the spiritual journey:

  1. Know God
  2. Find Freedom
  3. Discover Purpose
  4. Make a Difference

Write out your spiritual journey and share with someone.

Prayer:
God, you are our living hope. You gave us the greatest hope we could ever ask for. As I share this good news with others, help me to never make it about myself. As I go through this week, open my eyes to the opportunities I have to point others to you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.


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


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Praise the Lord!

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1

I feel so honored and privileged to be able to serve at the weekend services. A half hour before every service, each ministry group, at each campus gets together and prays. (This is so cool, everyone praying at the same time, at all different campuses, for the same thing!)

We pray for all the people who will be attending the service. We pray each person will have an open mind and heart. That they will listen to the message and be changed. Our goal is that our guests take the next steps in their faith journeys. We share life-change stories. (A life-change story is when a person puts his or her faith in Christ and is changed.) The stories are amazing and fill us with joy. We praise God for working miracles in each person’s life. We ask God to work through us to show our guests that they are loved and that they matter. Our prayer is that they will realize God has wonderful plans for their lives. We want everyone to: know Jesus, find freedom, find their purpose, and make a difference.

1 Thessalonians 1 is a beautiful letter from Paul, Silas, and Timothy to the Thessalonians. It talks about the extraordinary changes that God had made in the Thessalonians’ lives. Paul and his friends let the Thessalonians know that they pray for them constantly and praise God for their faith, love, and hope. In other words, the Thessalonians listened to what was preached, they believed, and God changed them.

1 Thessalonians 1: 2-5 (The Message)
Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened to you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.

It is amazing when you personally witness a life-change story. My husband and I have been married for 31 years. I prayed for years and years that he would accept Jesus as his Savior. My husband has always been a wonderful man, but he wasn’t a believer. He did go to church for a short time. He read the Bible, but he concluded it wasn’t true and didn’t believe it. He quit going to church. He told me to stop praying for him. He respected my faith and beliefs, so he made our daughters go to church with me.

About five years ago, he started to go to CedarCreek with me. He didn’t believe in Jesus, but he went because it was a great place to learn how to be a better husband, father, friend, person, and worker. He thought the sermons gave sound advice on how to live. Jesus slowly softened his heart and mind. Around three years ago, he became a believer and was baptized. Hallelujah!

A few months later, I was sitting in the family room having quiet time and he was upstairs cleaning the bathroom. (I told you he was a great guy.) I heard him loudly singing the lyrics to Good Good Father:

You’re a good, good father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I am loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am.

My heart was filled with joy and my eyes were filled with tears. PRAISE GOD!

Questions:
What is your life-change story? Whom can you share it with? What is your next step? Whom can you pray for to have a life-change story?

Next Steps:
Attend Growth Track. Make a list of who you can invite to CedarCreek. Invite them. Practice telling your life-change story and tell someone your story. Sign up to serve at CedarCreek.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so grateful that you never gave up on me. You waited patiently for me to turn to you and accept you as my Lord and Savior. My life has been so blessed by you. Please work through me to share your love, peace, joy, and faith with others. Help me be ready to share my life-change story. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve you and others. I continue to lift up all those I love who haven’t accepted you as their Lord and Savior. Please open their hearts and minds to accept you as their Savior. I trust you to change their hearts. 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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Fish AND Breakfast

Today’s Scripture: John 21

As the book of John comes to a close, Jesus and his disciples have been through it! Jesus had died, was buried, was resurrected, and came back to hang out with his people. Now, in Chapter 21, the guys are going fishing. It’s been a slow night, and when morning comes, some random guy shouts at them to ask whether they had caught any fish.

John 21:5-6
5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish.”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.”

The guys didn’t realize it was Jesus until their nets were full, overloaded with fish. And then, when they got to shore, Jesus had breakfast waiting for them.

They were trying to fish their own way, and it was a struggle. Jesus gave a simple instruction, to cast their nets on the other side. When they listened, they were blessed with an abundance of fish. And Jesus made them breakfast to boot!

Blessing after obedience is nothing new. Check out this example from the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 28:1-2
1 “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully keep all his commands that I am giving you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the world. 2 You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God:”

How often do we try to do things on our own or our own way? Jesus gives us simple commands to follow, and when we do obeywhen we follow his wayhe blesses us. In fact, he doesn’t just bless us for obedience, he serves up some breakfast on top of it.

Scripture is full of Jesus’ teachings. One example is from the theme verse for our current message series:

Ephesians 4:2
Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.

The bottom line this week is What COMES NATURALLY to me might bring out the BEST OR WORST in you. You may want to handle a person or a situation in the way you feel like handling them. But, if you follow the teachings from this versebe humble, be gentle, be patient, make allowance for other’s faultsGod will work in the situation and bless you for it.

No one said it would be easy, but when we listen to Jesus, it is for our good. There’s blessing (and maybe even breakfast) in obedience if you follow his way.

Questions:
What are you trying to do on your own? What are you trying to handle your own way?

Next Steps:
Take some time to journal about a person or situation that is disturbing your peace. Go to God with your feelings about the situation and ask him how to act. Ask him for humility, gentleness, and patience. Follow up with journaling on how things went by handling them God’s way.

Prayer:
God, I confess that too often I want to do things my own way. I want to hurry up and take care of things that are bothering me. Please forgive me. Help me to walk in humility, gentleness, and patience. May I seek wisdom from your Word on how to deal with jerkfaces or jerkface situations in my life. Help me to walk with and follow you. In your precious name, I pray. 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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At the Tomb

Today’s Scripture: John 20

I love to engage my sense of imagination with this Chapter. Join me in imagining what Mary must have experienced at the tomb.

Mary didn’t wake up early that Sunday. Actually, she really never slept that night. With some of the other women, she rose and hefted the burial supplies. They set out to the tomb where they saw Joseph and Nicodemus lay the lifeless body of Jesus just before the Sabbath began Friday evening. Deep in the predawn darkness, they made their way in a silence born of shock and grief. The garden where the tomb was located smelled of damp earth and aromatic foliage. How would they roll the stone away? Perhaps someone would be there to help.

As they came upon the tomb, they saw that it was open! How could that be? All of the women but Mary ran back to tell the other disciples, but hopelessness overwhelmed her and she could not take another step. She watched as Peter and John came to investigate. Not making any sense of what they saw, they returned to their hiding place with the others. Finally, curious as to what the men had seen, Mary leaned into the entrance of the tomb. She saw (had the men seen the same?) two angels sitting on the slab where Jesus had laid.

John 20:13
“Dear Woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

So heartsick, Mary doesn’t even find it remarkable that there are two angels in Jesus’ tomb and that they spoke to her! So overwhelmed with grief, her senses were dulled into stupor.

John 20:14-15
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

Same question, similar answer. “What is wrong with these people,” Mary must be thinking! “They’ve taken my Lord and won’t tell me where to find him. I just want to show my love for him one last time by tenderly caring for his broken body.”

John 20:15-16
15 She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

How her heart must have leapt when she realized the one speaking to her was the one she had been looking for all her life! Could she dare believe it was actually him? Yes! It was the Lord. She clearly saw him and heard his voice calling her name as only he did! Her lethargy gone, she ran to give his message to the disciples! Mary knew! Jesus had honored her by letting her be the first to see him that morning.

Jesus invites us into that encounter every day. He calls our names and waits for us to recognize his voice. He is patient with us. When we hesitate he comes a different way. He calls us by another method, as he did with his slow-on-the-uptake disciples (v. 19, 28)! He waits, loves, serves, comforts, and performs miracles in our lives:

John 20:31
But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

Questions:
Have you heard Jesus call you into a relationship with him? How did you answer? What have you done about it?

Next Steps:
If you have recently invited Jesus into your life, I hope you have told someone about it. It is the most important decision you will ever make! Talk with a trusted Christian friend, staff, or Dream Team member at your campus so you can discover what your next step might be.

Prayer:
Lord, I celebrate your victory over death! I am grateful for what that victory means in my life. The power that God used to raise you from the dead now lives in me, giving me the strength and the desire to follow your ways. It is an honor to do so. Thank you, Jesus! 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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A Storm Can’t Stop God’s Plan for You

Today’s Scripture: John 19

I try to be an optimist. I don’t ignore the bad and believe everything is always sunshine and rainbows. But I do think we can learn to find peace in the storm. Part of that peace comes from realizing God has a plan even when evil works against us. When life seems to be too hard, we need a reminder that God still has a plan. For me, the cross is that reminder. It’s easy for some to get lost in the suffering that Jesus went through and focus only on the great lengths of evil that Satan and some men went to in order to stop Christ.

John 19: 17-18 (NIV)
17 Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

The crucifixion of Jesus was the worst act of humankind, but the perpetrators behind it never knew they were carrying out God’s plan. They didn’t understand how far God was willing to go to save all of us, but Jesus understood very well. He carried all of our sins on his back, and his body became the surrogate sin for everyone. The journey toward the crucifixion was the ultimate storm, but the end was peace.

John 19: 28-30 (NIV)
28 Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Knowing that Jesus died bowing his head in peace instead of hanging it in defeat makes it easier for me to find peace in and after my storms.

Questions:
Do you struggle to find peace during your storms? What reminds you of God’s plan?

Next Steps:
Read your Bible to understand further that the cross wasn’t a gross miscarriage of justice.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for the sacrifice you made for all of us. Help us to strengthen our faith so that we may navigate through the storms of life. Focus our eyes and ears so that we may see the light and hear the truth of God’s Word. Amen.


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


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Betrayal of a Jerkface

Today’s Scripture: John 18

As Jesus entered into the Kidron Valley the night he was arrested, he would have passed by the brook of Kidron where the blood of the lambs that had been sacrificed for Passover would be channeled. This must have been a grim reminder of the blood that he would offer as the final sacrifice for all of mankind. He walked up the Mount of Olives and entered into the gate of the Garden of Gethsemane. In that garden, he would contemplate and pray about all that was about to take place, while his disciples did not really have a clue.

Meanwhile, Judas (Jerkface!) was given 30 pieces of silver and a company of soldiers, along with officers of the chief priests and Pharisees, to go and arrest Jesus. This was a show of overwhelming force coming to find an unarmed man with a few of his followers. You might even say it looked like a gang of bullies! What heroic bravery Jesus showed as they approached him.

John 18:4-9
4 Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked.
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) 6 As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! 7 Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?”
And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.”
8 “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” 9 He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”

Jesus wasn’t thinking of himself at this time. Quite the opposite! He was thinking of us! He knew what would have to take place to save our souls and reconcile us to God. Isn’t it wonderful news that he was willing to make the sacrifice?

Jesus could have been a jerkface and said, “these people just aren’t worth it!” He had the power to blow down the entire army in front of him with a single breath. He could have moved to a new town, changed his name, and lived a long life. What Jesus COULD have done and what Jesus DID do changed the course of humanity!

Questions:
Whom would you lay your life down for?

Would you put yourself out there the way Jesus did for someone who had mistreated you?

Can you think of a time when you were able to show kindness to a jerkface? How did that feel?

Next Steps:
Make a list of people who have done wrong to you or treated you in a jerkface manner. Pray for them.

Ask God how you can show kindness to someone who is typically a jerkface.

Prayer:
Father, you are so holy and gracious to us. You deserve all of our praise and worship. Thank you for being the perfect example of how to be gracious and forgiving to those who treat us as if we’re less than them. Place in us the desire to show your love to others, especially when they may not deserve it. May your will be done on Earth today and always. Amen.


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


Leave a Comment?

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


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