Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.28.12

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WEDNESDAY — Dream Killer: We are all Abnormal
Big Point: 
The minute you think you’ve got it all together, that you belong in the “in crowd,” and that you are much better than the average “Joe,” stop and check yourself: you are just as freaky and abnormal!

Ah yes, we all love to think we are much better than the next person. It’s just our human nature. In fact, as we grow in our Christian maturity, we have to work even harder to remember that we are all abnormal, as we mentioned in the introduction to this Bible study. Don’t believe it? Well, if you have been taking the time to read the Daily Bible Reading plan, you’ll notice we’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Old Testament. Did you get a chance to read about the messed-up families and freaky folks in Genesis? John Ortberg, in his book Everybody’s Normal Till You Get to Know Them, provides a quick summary of those individuals in Genesis and their stories:

Cain is jealous of Abel and kills him. Lamech introduces polygamy to the world. Noah—the most righteous man of his generation—gets drunk and curses his own grandson. Lot, when his home is surrounded by residents of Sodom who want to violate his visitors, offers instead that they can have sex with his daughters (What?). Later on, his daughters get him drunk and get impregnated by him—and Lot is the most righteous in Sodom!

Abraham plays favorites between his sons Isaac and Ishmael; the sons are estranged. Issac plays favorites between his sons Jacob and Esau; they’re bitter enemies for twenty years. Jacob plays favorites between Joseph and his other eleven sons; the brothers want to kill Joseph and end up selling him into slavery. Their marriages are disasters: Abraham has sex with his wife’s servant, then sends her and their son off to the wilderness at his wife’s request … (and there’s more…)

Whew—completely whacked-out, jacked-up, crazy, freaky, abnormal, right? You get the picture. Our hearts are naturally messed up and immoral, we constantly battle our sinful nature and we ALL sin and fall short. Bottom line: We have to get off our “high-horse” and fall down at the foot of the cross, every single day—no matter your maturity level in Christ.

READ & THINK…Find the answers
Have you ever found yourself saying “he or she has a good heart?” Have you ever stopped to think about what is truly in a person’s heart? Read Mark 7:21-23 and write out what is typically found in a person’s heart and where it come from. Worse yet, what happens when it stays there?

Mark 7:21-23 (New Living Translation)
For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, and deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure,  envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within, they are what defile you.

Answer:

What does 1 John 1:8 say happens to us when we get full of ourselves and act like we do no wrong? What does verse 9 say we should do instead?

1 John 1:8-9 (New Living Translation)
If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. 9But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from every wrong. 

Answer:

It doesn’t matter how mature you are as a Christian or how new in Christ you are, we all need to be reminded of what Romans 3:23 tells us. Read it for yourself again (it just never gets old!).

Romans 3:23 (New Living Translation)
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Be honest with yourself, how often do you consider yourself better than others? Don’t immediately brush off this question with “oh, I don’t do that.” Perhaps incidents like these could jog your memory: When you are driving along and someone cuts you off, do you ever say “you idiot” or maybe just think it. What about when you hear someone make a mistake? Or say perhaps someone is drastically different from you—wears different clothing, speaks with an accent, is slow in any way, or just has an interesting way of approaching life? Any thoughts come up now? Go ahead and write them out (don’t worry, we can’t see your answer).

 

What steps can you take to make certain you don’t lull yourself into this false belief that you are better than others?  What steps will you take this week?

 

How often do you check your heart? We are not talking about the cholesterol that  builds up plaque that may be clogging your arteries. Rather, we are talking about the “plaque” that’s discussed in Mark 7:21-23. Do you believe it’s necessary to ask God to clean your heart on a regular basis? Why or why not?

 

Let’s say that you found yourself in a conversation today in which you were talking to a spiritually restless person—someone who is just fed-up with the church. How would you go about being transparent with them and describing your shortcomings to encourage them that you are simply a sinner saved by grace, write out how your conversation would go.

 

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to keep you in check—always remembering that we are all sinners. Ask Him to help you use your special gifts and abnormal life in a way that glorifies Him and naturally leads others to Christ.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.27.12

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TUESDAY — God’s Dream: Community with Each Other
Big Point:
The second part of God’s plan for us is that we fellowship with others beneath the wide and loving reach of His family umbrella.

What would happen if we, as a Biblical community, saw ourselves as having ownership of everything, the way God has ownership…and we could make those resources available to people in need? Almost every need would be met right here, right now, today.

Let’s do an experiment. Someone hypothetically needs a doctor and some medicine and they don’t have the money. Is there a doctor in our community? How about a person able to write a check for some medicine? A single mother has four children and is worn out and could use half a day to recharge and relax. How many of us would be willing to provide child care? We have a member whose car is always giving them trouble, but they don’t have repair money and don’t know the mechanics. How many of our members could step into this need?

All of these things are possible and look great on paper. The next step is to form a web site, or put some flyers on a bulletin board to match these people up, right? We could take that shortcut so we don’t have to get involved. Or we could fill the need the good old-fashioned way, by getting to know people, couldn’t we? We could be active participants in a Biblical community, and have eyes to see the needs and get the first-hand personal joy of giving and receiving in the family of God.

Biblical community takes extreme commitment, but it produces incredible and extreme results. Compassion within our community changes lives, not only for the people in need, but also for the people contributing. It’s a wonderful feeling doing God’s work and fulfilling the dream of our Heavenly Father within this extended family into which He has adopted us. It may interrupt our schedule, but ask yourself: Could it possibly be a DIVINE interruption?

 

More Than You’ll Ever Know
Watermark © 2006

You had faith, when I had none.
You prayed God would bring me

a brand new song
when I didn’t think I could find

the strength to sing.
And all the while,
I’m hoping that I’ll
do the kind of praying for you
that you’ve done for me,
And that’s the way it ought to be…

You have carried me;
you have taken on a burden

that wasn’t your own.
And may the blessing return to you
a hundredfold.

 

READ and THINK…Find the answers in the Bible
As followers of Christ, we are called by God to live life with a radial commitment that reaches into the world around us. There are four ways in the following verse that describe this commitment. How are you doing in the following areas of your life? What changes can be made to help create a Biblical community in your life?

Acts 2:42 (New Living Translation)
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.

Answer: 

What does Philippians 1:3-5 tell us about the intended relationship with our community?

Philippians 1:3-5 (New Living Translation)
3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.

Answer:

According to Ephesians 1:5, what kind of example does God give us when it comes to family and the adoption of one another? Would you consider what He did an extreme commitment?

Ephesians 1:5 (New Living Translation)
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

Answer:

LIVE… What will you do now?
Through remembering Mel Brooks’ classic film, Young Frankenstein, we established that all of us are somewhat “Abby Normal,” but learning to differentiate between our first impressions of others and the deeper discernment of who they are at the core can be a challenge sometimes. Perhaps the key to understanding those in our community is to better understand ourselves.

 

What are some of your quirks, sins, or weaknesses that, at close inspection, make you just as abnormal as anyone else you know?

 

When you finally admit to personal abnormalities within your inner circle – to those people who make up your community – what are you hoping to accomplish?

 

If it is God’s dream for us to remain in community with others, what can you do to accomplish that in your own life?

 

Take on a challenge in the coming week: Apply what you’ve learned about God’s desire for us to fellowship with other believers as part of our walk with Him. Choose one activity that exemplifies your desire to follow His leading: Attend a Life Group meeting; invite a small group of believers to share a meal (“breaking bread”), either at home or at a restaurant; make a touchstone phone call to at least two of your community members (we’ll discuss this more on Friday).

 

PRAY … God what do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you turn acquaintances into community members. Seek His will for your involvement and/or interaction with other believers so that you can play a part in making your Father’s dream for His children come true.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.26.12

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Did you know that porcupines are extremely social creatures? Ironic, since their thousands of quills are each equipped with small fish-hook type barbs that snag the flesh of anyone or anything coming too close. When threatened or surprised, 30,000 quills jut out into various directions. Consequently, socializing with them can be quite dangerous!

You may recall Lee’s 2007 message that included an illustration about the porcupine, developed from John Ortberg’s book, Everyone Seems Normal Until You Get to Know Them. Using this strange and interesting animal, Lee pointed out the obvious: The only way for a porcupine to safely be in community with others is for them to learn to draw in those quills. In that same way, we must learn to manage our own quills of Anger, Jealousy, Resentment, Bitterness, Dishonesty, Selfishness, etc., so that others in our community won’t be injured by them.

Mel Brooks’ 1974 movie Young Frankenstein has become a cult classic over the decades. One of the funniest scenes in the film is the one in which Marty Feldman’s wild-eyed Igor admits that he’s stolen the brain of someone named “Abby Normal” for Gene Wilder’s macabre experiment. “Are you saying,” Wilder seethes, “that I put an abnormal brain into a seven-and-a-half-foot long, 54-inch wide GORILLA? Is that what you’re telling me?” As Wilder throttles Feldman, we all laugh like crazy at the scene…but the truth is we’re ALL a little bit Abby Normal, aren’t we?

On Monday and Tuesday, we’re going to take a look at Acts 2, digging deep to  discover God’s wonderful plan for us as one community under His leadership. It’s a blueprint of sorts, and following it advances God’s bigger dream of His people coming together under one metaphoric tent in their service to Him and to each other.

On Wednesday, we’ll take a closer look at the quirky and abnormal characters of the Bible; and on Thursday, we’ll scrutinize The Golden Rule as it applies to the diversity of people we’ll meet along the way as we do God’s work.

It is God’s dream that we are in community with Him AND with others, simultaneously. The problem is that, like the title of Ortberg’s book, everyone seems quite normal until you get to know them and discover they’re just as abnormal as the rest of us. We are like “as is” goods in the damaged goods section of the department store. You don’t know what’s wrong with the goods, but eventually you will find out after you buy them. We often come with that “as is” tag that says “There’s a flaw here, a streak of deception, a cruel tongue, a passive spirit, an out-of-control temper. You won’t know till you enter into a relationship with me.” It’s those quills that can cause others to withdraw from fellowship with us. So in order for God’s dream to be fulfilled, we’re going to have to learn to interact with others, quills pulled in, so they don’t get hurt.

 

“Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives.”
Henri Nouwen

 

MONDAY— God’s Dream: Community with God
Big Point:
God’s plan has always been to adopt us into His own family through His Son, Jesus.

What qualities represent the familial relationship between a young child and their father? You could say devotion and loyalty; leadership and education about how to live life; utter dependence, from financial to spiritual; a deep desire within the child to spend time with and to intimately know the father. These are also the qualities that our Father desires to instill in us as His children.

A pastor named Craig Groeschel is known for teaching a series entitled Kaleo, a Greek word taken from the term “koinonia,” which translates as a partnership or intimate fellowship. From the beginning of time, this is what God desired of us. In Genesis, we learn that He created Adam for the purpose of  identifying with Him. In verse 26, “Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.’” He expected Adam to commune with Him, to reign over all of the birds and animals as God reigned over him. Only afterward did He decide that man should not be alone, and He created Eve to enable Adam to commune with both God AND with another human being.

God’s dream has not changed. In all of the centuries that have passed between then and now, He still dreams of one thing: Intimate relationship with us and through us. He desires a rich familial community where we are bonded first with Him, and secondly with others; and He hopes and expects that we will live out these relationships simultaneously.

In the same way that a child adores their earthly father, yet still has room enough to love siblings and cousins, we have the capacity to embrace our entire community of people, with God at the head of our fellowship table.

 

Aim at heaven
and you will get
earth thrown in.

Aim at earth
and you get neither.

C. S. Lewis

 

READ and THINK….Find Answers in the Bible
In Ephesians 1, the author confides in us about God’s plans. What does verse 5 teach us about His most foundational hope for us as His creation?

Ephesians 1:5 (New Living Translation)
God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.

Answer:

In Luke, Chapter 5, we learned that Jesus also fought for the balance of communing first with his father and secondly with the community of people to whom he had been called to minister. What visual do verses 15 and 16 give us in that regard?

Luke 5:15-16 (New Living Translation)
15 But despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. 16 But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Describe the times in your life when you’ve felt a separation from God. What was your relationship like with God? What was your schedule like? Was it hectic?  Were you taking the time to commune with Him?

 

After looking back on those times, what can you do differently now to make sure to maintain your closeness with Him?

 

Describe your relationship with God now. Is it a priority in your life? Do you spend quiet time alone with Him, listening for His guidance, chatting about your deepest concerns?

What does your “wilderness” type place look like—you know, that special place where you retreat, get away from it all, just as Jesus did in Luke 15-16?

 

How often do you take time to “catch up” with Him by retreating to your “wilderness” type place—just you and God?

 

If you were given the opportunity to sit at the feet of your heavenly Father but were told that you only had fifteen minutes to do so, what key issues would you share with Him in order to focus on your spiritual relationship?

 

PRAY … God what do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you fully understand the meaning of Koinonia. Allow Him to speak to your heart and show you the areas where your intimacy can be improved and appreciated. Pray that He will lead you to closer fellowship with Him, first and above all else.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.23.12

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FRIDAY — Week-in-Review & Planned Down Time!
Big Point:  It’s one thing to discover how God wants you to prioritize your life, it is another thing to put God’s plan into action!

Review and Think …
What’s the most important thing you learned in this week’s Living It Out Bible study?

Which verse(s) had the most impact on you this week? How did this verse challenge you to think or act differently?

Where have you sensed that God is challenging you to re-evaluate or re-prioritize your schedule? How have you responded to His leadings?

What is your plan to experience more “Down Time”?

 

“To live a ‘centered life,’ move your heart toward where the   Holy Spirit is putting the most amount of  pressure.”
-Wayne Corderio

 

What are your plans for this weekend?
…How about taking a planned break?
However, it’s Friday and so we want to encourage you to think about taking a day this weekend to engage in what the Bible calls “Sabbath rest.” You might remember this topic from earlier this week. Here’s some thoughts from Wayne Cordeiro:

“In our fast-paced, full-scheduled world, taking extended breaks is a luxury afforded on the affluent, old or sick. It is fallen out of consideration as a vital component to success. Let me persuade you to reconsider the importance of Sabbath rest. Sabbaths and sabbaticals are biblically necessary to increase our fruitfulness and deepen our faith along the way.

The Sabbath is a declaration that God has finished His work of creation. No one needs to add to it, and no one should. God’s people were instructed to keep His example by doing nothing to advance their own cause on that day. It was the only aspect of God’s creative ability that His creatures (us!) could imitate. They could not create, but they could rest. And on the seventh day, God rested.

The Sabbath acknowledges the completed work of God…We have learned to rest when the work is done. But the fact of the matter is that the work will never be done. There will always be more to do. So, the Sabbath rest becomes a command that we should respond to, not as a result of nothing left to do. It is part of our obedience, not a consequence of our expedience and industriousness.”  -Wayne Cordeiro

So, how can you plan a Sabbath rest?
Great question! Here are some tips from Jim Smith, author of Good and Beautiful God (and a recent guest speaker at CedarCreek during our Apprentice Conference) when it comes to preparing to engage in replenishing rest, planning is the key!

 

Here are some questions to think about:
1. What obligations might get in the way or interrupt your planned rest? Can you cancel or reschedule them for another time? (Make the effort, it’s worth it!)
2. What meals are you going to eat? (You don’t want to spend precious relaxation time frustrated about meal preparation.)
3. Who can you share your Sabbath meals with? (Eating with people is an excellent way to enjoy a meal and build soul-nourishing relationships.)
4. Are you mentally prepared to rest? (Don’t sabotage yourself with guilt over taking a break!)
5. Intentionally plan things that are fun. (Here’s a tip: if a kid would enjoy doing it, then it’s probably fun.)
6. Take time to read scripture/devotional, pray and list your blessings as part of recognizing that God is in control—even while you rest.

What a great way to end the week as we head into next week. Our next Happy Hour series title is “Friends Nite Out.” Who do you intend to invite? Perhaps they can participate in any of the above six steps with you.

PRAY…God, what do you want me to know & do?
We loved this quote from Wayne Corderio about prayer: “Prayer is deeply thinking about something in the presence of God.” We hope that this week’s study has caused you to think about your priorities and whether or not you sense God nudging you to make adjustments. As you ponder difficult choices that might be on the horizon, talk to God about your deep thoughts. While God might not speak to you audibly, you might be getting a sense—or some type of leading/prompting toward what He is calling you to do.

 

Weekend Updates!

  • Want to go on a mission trip?  There will be informational meetings following each service on March 24th and 25th and March 31st and April 1st for the fall mission trip to La Ceiba and Choluteca Honduras. If you are  interested in any additional information, please contact Karen McMillian at karenm@cedarcreek.tv.

 

  • Ladies, do you know that God sees you as FabulousAnd we do too!  Join us on Thursday, May 17th from 6-10pm and Friday, May 18th from 9-4pm and enjoy speakers like Nicole Johnson, of Women of Faith, and Sarah Hammitt, wife of Sanctus Real’s Matt Hammitt, and others as they share their stories and inspirational messages of just how Fabulous we are in God’s sight.  This year’s theme, “It’s Woman’s Work,” will prove to be just as wonderful as last year’s event. Except you don’t want to wait to register as tons of tickets have already been sold and there are a limited number of seats. Register by going to cedarcreek.tv under the “get connected” tab.

Living It Out: March 2012
“But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgement by the truth I have spoken.”
John 12:48

 

Living It Out
It is the dream of CedarCreek that everyone who calls this their church home will be reading and studying the same topics, both individually and in groups. Each week, join with thousands of others at CedarCreek Church in applying God’s Word, the Bible, into your daily life. Our hope is that while we learn and grow together, as individuals and as a church, we will collectively live out the weekend message.

Living It Out resources, such as the Daily Bible Study, Daily Bible Reading Plan, Discussion Questions and Scripture Memory Verses are designed to help us embrace a missional mindset…a mindset that compels us to love Jesus, serve others and tell the world about Christ.

Living It Out: Daily Bible Study…Daily Bible study activities to reflect on the weekend message

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan…Read through the Bible in 1 year—Old and New Testament will alternate month to month.

Living It Out: Discussion Questions…Weekly questions to discuss with others

Living It Out: Scripture Memory…Memorize one Bible verse per month

All of these resources are also available electronically at www.livingitout.tv, where you can subscribe to have any or all of them emailed to you as they are updated.

We Want Your Feedback!
Tell us about any questions or comments you have about this week’s Living It Out: Daily Bible Study. Forward them to DianaP@cedarcreek.tv

Living It Out: Daily Bible Reading Plan scriptures are listed for each day. By completing each of the daily readings, you will read the entire Old Testament in 1 year. These readings are separate from the Daily Bible Study.

 

RESOURCES:
Choosing to cheat: when work and family collide
Andy Stanley

The Good and Beautiful God
James Smith

Wayne Corderio

 

This week’s Living It Out Daily Bible Study written by:
Barb Roose
Diana Patton
Sandie Bricker
Stephanie Coil

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.22.12

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THURSDAY – Give Up the Myth of the Balanced Life
Big Point:
The contemporary world view of finding balance is not the same one that Jesus represented in his daily walk. Today’s idea of achieving symmetrical life balance is a myth. 

The dictionary’s definition of balance is to arrange, adjust or proportion the parts symmetrically. Countless studies, polls, research grants, and psychological reports have centered around the need for the average American to find optimum balance for their lives. But is this type of balance really an achievable (or desirable) goal?

Judging by today’s standards, Jesus didn’t lead a balanced life at all. He worked long hours, skipped a lot of meals, regarded his goals with a large degree of tunnel vision. He even removed himself from his daily routine for more than a month, focusing on one thing and one thing only. Not exactly balanced, right?

In your busy life, what are the things you make time for, no matter what the cost? Sleep, even if it’s not as much as you’d like. “Bio breaks,” as they’re sometimes called, are pretty non-negotiable. A couple of meals each day, even on-the-go, are a requirement for everyone. Your spouse and kids are a required priority. Unfortunately, activities such as key relationships, leisure time and daily prayer often take a back seat for long periods when our lives are at full throttle, and we often perceive that as failure.

In John 4, Jesus set a good picture-type for us about setting priorities in our lives. When asked about stopping to eat in verse 34, He stated, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

Everything else took a secondary position to following the call of God on his life and fulfilling his purpose; yet he still made time for the other things. Jesus showed us throughout his life here on earth that true “balance” comes from knowing what is central, and building everything else around it.

It’s no wonder that the contemporary vision about building symmetric lives has created a world filled with defeated and harried participants. With Jesus as our teacher, however, we can see that this idea that evenly measured distribution should be chased (and can be eventually attained) by every human being…is a MYTH.

READ & THINK….Find the Answers
What does John 4:31-38 tell you about how to “balance” the role you play in God’s work with the other vital activities in your life?

 

John 4:31-38 (New Living Translation)
31Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But Jesus replied, “I have a kind of food you know nothing about.” 33 “Did someone bring him food while we were gone?” the disciples asked each other.  34 Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work… 37 You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

Answer:

How can Isaiah 22:11 apply to “The Big Picture” in the organization of our pursuit of balance in our everyday lives?

Isaiah 22:11 (New Living Translation)
11 Between the city walls, you build a reservoir for water from the old pool. But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago.

Answer:

We read about Matthew 6:33 earlier this week but it is worthy of mentioning again. How does this scripture guide us in learning to structure our everyday lives?

Matthew 6:33 (New Living Translation)
33 Seek the Kingdom of Godabove all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Answer:

LIVE …What will you do now?
Have you determined what God’s purpose is for your life? Are you meant to teach others? To build churches, like the apostle Paul? To encourage other believers in their faith? Or perhaps, like Mary and Joseph, you are meant to raise a child with a profound call on their life? If balance is now defined by building everything else around that one central mission or goal, it follows that our priority has to be finding out what that goal is. Spend some time thinking and praying about how God wants to use you.

 

What gifts and abilities do you have that others around you may not? How might those qualities be realistically turned over to the work of God?

 

What tasks and projects have you invested in this past month where you found yourself feeling trapped, or as if you’ve been spinning your wheels, pulled away from your real mission? Looking back at those times, how could you have shifted your focus so that they wouldn’t have become so overwhelming?

 

Viewing God as the central priority of your life (like the Sun), with everything else orbiting around Him, what part can daily devotions play in your pursuit of Christ-centered balance?

 

PRAY … God what do you want me to know and do?
Stop and give God praise, for no other reason than for the enormous role He plays in your life on a daily basis. Then ask Him how you can draw even closer to Him  and how to serve Him better through the craziness of your life. Ask Him to show you a new perspective on your divine purpose(s), and let the Holy Spirit speak to your heart about how and when to adjust as you serve Him.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.21.12

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WEDNESDAY —  Keep Your Tank Filled
Big Point:
  Once we put God first, we’ll begin to recognize and yearn for what fills our tank so that we can have the energy and zeal to deal with things that   happen to drain our tank. 

Some of you are still on yesterday’s topic, wondering how you can fit in all you have to do in your daily life. Andy Stanley writes in his book Choosing to Cheat: When Work and Family Collide, “Everyone cheats. We have to. You have several important calls on your life. You have a career potential to fill, a spouse to love, a family to raise, a ministry to perform. Each of these things has tremendous merit in your life and for the world at large. None of them should be neglected. However, when you consider the limited hours in a day, there is no way you can reach your full potential in all these areas. There is not enough time.” The solution, as we discussed yesterday is to put God first. Then, everything else will be added to you.

The key is we must examine what we are adding on our own, separate then what God may be encouraging us to add. Or, it could be that some of the additions to your life are, at times, just plain ‘ole draining. And literally, your “cup runneth over” just thinking about the task that you have to endure. Do you think God intended for us to have to deal with things that drain us? Well, it stands to reason that with life, we have challenges and those challenges quite simply can and will drain us. But don’t you think that our God is big enough to provide the space in our lives to fill up our tank with those things that bring life, laughter and joy? Oh you better believe it! Your job is to make certain that you’ve taken the time to identify what drains you and what fills you up and to ask God to lead you in a manner that allows your “filling” to override your “draining.” Kind of like a gas station—except in our case, God’s gas station is always open and only provides premium fuel designed specifically for you to reenergize, revitalize and rest, when appropriate.

READ & THINK…Find the answers
It seems almost every day you can read about the latest gismo or cosmetic that assures us how to lengthen and reenergize our life. But what does Proverbs 14:30 say is one sure-fire way to lengthen our life.

Proverbs 14:30 (New International Version)
A relaxed attitude lengthens life …

Answer:

“Do nothing” is a phrase that is quite foreign to most people in today’s “go go go”  and “always on and open” culture. But Exodus 20:10 says we should do exactly that—nothing, specifically on the Sabbath. Why do you suspect we should do nothing? Read further in Luke 5:16 and identify how Jesus likely filled his tank.

Exodus 20:10 (New International Version)
…but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.

Luke 5:16 (New International Version)
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  

Answer:

What does 1 Thessalonians 5:11 say we should do to build each other up?

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (New International Version)
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Our lives can parallel fuel tanks for engines—how well our engines “run” depends upon the amount and type of “fuel” in our tank. Life is filled with activities (such as work, stress, busyness, etc.) that can “drain” our tank. Engaging in activities, like hobbies and relationship-building are practical ways to “fill” our tanks. Wayne Cordeiro, Founder and Senior Pastor of New Hope Christian Fellowship in Honolulu, Hawaii asked individuals in his “Dead Leader Running” talk to write out those things that fill their tank and those things that drain their talk. Take a moment to write out how that applies to you below.

What drains your tank:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What drains your tank:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

Is there a person that rely upon to fill your tank? If so, how that is working for you? Or is it working against you? (A thought: If trouble exists here, perhaps that person who you rely on for constant filling may be taking God’s spot).

Take a look at two of the things that you wrote down that fill your tank. Write down one or two action steps you need to take in order to be able to participate in that activity or relationship on a more frequent basis.

1.

2.

Identify an accountability person that you can contact and share your list with in order to help keep you accountable.  Name: __________________

 

If you are married, have children, or you find yourself in close proximity with individuals on a daily basis, have them fill out a similar list and compare them. Exchange lists and use them to pray with each other over the next few months.

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
God wants you to fill your tank with the things that will bring nourishment to your body and soul. Ask Him to direct your path in a manner that allows you to take advantage of those opportunities by getting the rest you need every single day.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.20.12

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TUESDAY — Put the Big Rocks in First
Big Point:
 If you have time for only five big things and you struggle to fit those five things in every day—shift your priorities and seek Christ first and snap, just like that, everything else will fall into place! Try it for yourself.

Pastor Wayne Cordeiro shared a very popular illustration in his 2006 Willow Creek Summit talk regarding a physics teacher that challenged his students to fit five big rocks and a bunch of sand into a wide-mouth mason jar in fifteen seconds. When time was called, the teacher heard various students say, “we’ve got three rocks left,” “can’t do it, it’s impossible, we’ll break the glass,” “no, it can’t all fit.” All the while, the physics teacher is saying, “Yes, it can fit.” He poured the sand out and took what was left of the rocks and laid them aside. He then said, “Always remember students, you must put the big rocks in first.” He put the five rocks in and then he poured some sand in and shook the jar. Then, he poured some more sand in and it cascaded around the rocks and filled in all the holes and spaces. Finally, he put the few granules in and shook it again until it leveled out at the top. He then put the cap on it and said, “It fits. It will always fit if you put the big rocks in first.”

How often do you try to fit in a bunch of stuff into your life, all for seemingly the right reasons, only to find yourself exhausted, frustrated and overwhelmed at the end of the day. We all can put ourselves in that category—whether you are a corporate CEO, stay-at-home parent, single mom, retired school teacher. It doesn’t matter your title. Often times we find ourselves in the vicious “gotta getter done in one day” cycle. But do we? Are there options? Is there any hope for the frenzied type of life we lead? Absolutely! And nope, it’s not another one those “Five Steps to Fitting it All In” self-help books. It’s simply Christ—pure, true, proven fail-proof, and always timely. There’s only one catch, you must put Christ first, above everything else. Think you can do that? We have faith in you that you can!

READ & THINK…Find the answers
Matthew 6:33 proves the point we make above—and that is we must seek the Kingdom of God, first, above anything else.  What will happen when we do this?

Matthew 6:33 (New International Version)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Answer:

What do you think the “things” are that Jesus is referring to in the above scripture when he says “all these things will be given to you as well”?

Answer:

We often refer to Proverbs 3:5-8 primarily because it’s often difficult for us to apply to our lives. Take some time to identify the steps we are to take in order for our paths to become straight. Read the verse below and fill in the blank after the scripture (this should be fun—think back to playing “hangman”).

Proverbs 3:5-8 (New International Version)
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. 8 This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

Answer:

T _ _ _ _ in the Lord with all your heart.         S_ _ _ _ _ all your ways to him.

L _ _ _  not on your own understanding.        D_  n_ _  be w _ _ _ in your own eyes.

 

What will happen to us when we take action as described above:

Answer:

Our path will: ________________________________

Our bodies will: ______________________________

 

LIVE…What will you do now?
Identify the top five rocks in your life—those things that always seem to occupy your time (from biggest to smallest).

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

After reading the scriptures for today, identify the top five big rocks that should occupy your time (from biggest to smallest).

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

 

Here are some thoughts. Are you the type of person that tries to tackle a project without first reading the instruction manual (be honest)? How often do you view your projects, tasks or “to do” items as seemingly impossible in any given day? What if you consulted your instruction manual (your Bible) before tackling these projects every single day? What if you reprioritized your life according to what should occupy your time (as you wrote above)—how would it be different?

Let’s start today. Hopefully you are reading this before your day comes to a close.  If so, write out how you see your rocks fitting in. If it is the end of the day, write out how your day went and how you prioritized your rocks.

 

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Ask God to help you put the biggest rock of all in first, that’s God Himself. Ask Him to help you be vigilant about putting Him first above every single thing you do—to help keep your path straight and to maintain health and vitality in your body, according to His will and purpose for your life.

 

Living It Out – Daily Bible Study 03.19.12

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Do you ever just want to get away from it all? The job, kids, bills, crazy relatives—and just fall off the grid for awhile. While there may be 168 hours in a week, many of us feel like we are trying to jam in 200 hours worth of living. Why isn’t 168 hours enough? Why are we always in such a doggone hurry? It’s okay to be busy, but why are so many people—perhaps you—feeling strung out by overwhelming schedules?

As conscientious humans, we chase the myth of the “balanced life” – the idea that we can achieve “scheduling nirvana,” thereby eliminating any schedule-induced stress. We must face the cold hard facts: there is no such thing as the balanced life! Why? Because life is filled with unscheduled situations and contradictory priorities.

Check this out: “Even what everyone agrees is good for you can seem to contradict itself. For example, how do you both get enough sleep and make every minute count? And how do you floss regularly, eat eight servings of fruit and vegetables a day, drink lots of water, exercise at least thirty minutes at least three times a week, attend religious service regularly, belong to groups that matter to you and attend their meetings, keep up with your friends, work your job, do the laundry, pay taxes, have sex at least once a week, deal with the pressure of relentless uncertainty and change the oil in your car every three thousand miles without possessing the powers of a miracle maker? No one knows. From corporate strategies to child-rearing theories to personal health to money management to career expectations, uncertainty rules.”

With all of the pressure and obligations of this life, it’s no wonder that so many of us want to follow Lenny Kravitz’s song and just “Fly Away.” Sure, it’s tempting to think about walking away from the stress of our lives. But most of us won’t go because we don’t want to leave behind the good stuff that sometimes gets buried with the bad. So, what would happen if we just did a better job using the 168 hours given to us this week?

In this weekend’s message, we learned that putting God first is the key to getting life right. When we follow God’s priorities, then we experience clarity in establishing our priorities and creating our schedules. Remember when Lee talked about “putting the big rocks in first”?

During your Bible study this week, you will be challenged to allow God to shape (or re-shape) your priorities. You will also be given an opportunity to think about what activities “fill” your emotional, physical and spiritual tank as well as which activities “drain” those tanks. By the end of this week’s Living It Out Bible study, you should have a greater sense of God’s direction for how you spend your time—and hopefully, you’ll experience the blessings of “Down Time.”

So let’s get started!

 

It’s okay to be busy…but, are we busy doing the wrong things?

 

MONDAY — What are You Living For?
Big Point:
Do you need to rediscover your priorities?! 

Get up. Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Get up. Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Get up. Go to work. Go home. Go to bed. Does this sound familiar? Are you busy? What are you so busy doing? If you’re living for earthly possessions, self-recognition or the praise of others, these are all vain pursuits. Filling our lives with endless pursuits of whatever will make us happy is like a dog running in a circle chasing its tail—we never truly find lasting satisfaction, even when we achieve our goals. What matters is that we figure out what’s most important and that we figure out how to live “centered lives” instead of trying to figure out how to wrestle the mythical “balanced life.”

If you feel overly stressed out from your schedule and think things are out of your control, you’re right. And since you can’t control everything, isn’t it better to rely on a God who can? Your busy schedule may have to stay busy, but you can have peace knowing you are busy doing the right things instead of the wrong ones.

READ & THINK…Find the Answers
God has a lot to say about how we need to prioritize our daily lives. What does Romans 12:1-2 say to do with your everyday activities?

 Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Answer:

Even people who know nothing about God understand that there should be a difference between someone who lives for God and someone who is enthralled with our culture. Instead of adjusting to the culture around you, what should your attention be fixed on according to Hebrews 12:2?

Hebrews 12:2 (New Living Translation)
2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Answer:

Chasing success has been called many different things—and we can each have our own definition of what “success” looks like. However, what does Jesus want us to realize in Mark 8:36?

Mark 8:36 (New Living Translation)
36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?

Answer:

LIVE…What will you do now?
Have you ever asked yourself this question – “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36)  What do you feel you’ve accomplished in the world? How do your accomplishments measure up to what God considers important?

 

There’s nothing wrong with being successful—or even wealthy. God wants us to work hard and fulfill our obligations to our families and our jobs. However, we have to be aware of our motives behind our daily activities. Is your day-to-day life being placed before God or is it honoring something or someone else?

 

Look at your checkbook, schedule and how you spend your time…this may give you a good idea of what you are truly living for. If you asked your spouse or close friends what you live for, what would their response be?

 

Do you have a life mission statement? A life mission states your life purpose, beliefs and values. Try to write out what you believe your life stands for.

PRAY…God, What do you want me to know & do?
Now that you’ve thought about a life mission statement for yourself, write it into a prayer. Ask God to help you to achieve purpose in your life and to help you rediscover your priorities.