The Big Catch

Today’s Scripture: Luke 5

Our natural human tendency is to compare ourselves to people around us. This can be seen going all the way back to our days in elementary school, when we wanted to be just like everyone else. Looking and behaving like our friends at that time was a childish goal.

Luke 5 tells the story of Jesus calling the first disciples. This is not Simon’s first encounter with Jesus. Jesus had already been to Simon’s home in Capernaum and healed his mother-in-law ( Luke 4:38-39).

God calls ordinary people to discipleship and mission. After all, there was nothing special about Simon Peter and his fishing partners. They were simple fishermen, simply doing their daily tasks. They were minding their own business, cleaning their nets after a long, discouraging night of work when Jesus entered their lives and changed everything.

Surrounded by people, Jesus got into Simon’s boat and asked him to put out a little way from the shore so he could teach the people. Simon did what Jesus asked, (Verses 1-3), then Jesus tells Simon to let down his nets for a catch.

Simon, tired after fishing all night, believes this will be a futile effort. You can almost hear the tone in his voice when he responds, “Master, we have worked all night but have caught nothing.” But then he continues; “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets” (verses 4-5).

The nets become so full of fish that they begin to break and the boat is so full of fish that it begins to sink. Seeing what is happening, Simon is overwhelmed with fear and wonder. He realizes that he is in the presence of divine power. Simon falls down at Jesus’ knees and begging him, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Verses 6-8) Jesus responds to Simon by saying, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people” (Verse 10).

Jesus calls Simon and his partners as they are. Simon is aware of his unworthiness, but Jesus is not put off by this in the slightest. Jesus does not ask Simon to get his act together, his resume prepared, and then come back for an interview. Rather, Jesus encounters him as he is, tells him not to be afraid, and calls him to a new mission of catching people.

Questions:
How often do we resist Jesus’ claim on our lives because what he is calling us to do seems crazy, impractical, or we already tried it on our own? What might it mean for us to go deep-sea fishing with Jesus? To trust and follow him outside our comfort zones and to have our lives changed ?

Next Steps:
Ask God to help you see the areas in your life where you might still be holding back.

Prayer:
Lord, give me the courage to trust you, and make me obedient to your commands. Give us faith to trust you, to step out in boldness and obedience, to share your truth, and to watch you work. Amen.


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


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No Regrets

Today’s Scripture: Luke 4

Regrets are experiences we wish we’d had the opportunity for or wish we would have done differently. Some common regrets are people wishing they had the courage to be true to themselves, be happier, or to pursue their passions.

In Luke 4, Jesus battles Satan and models how to resist temptation so there’s no regret. In life, there will always be things to regret, because we are not perfect. Although Jesus IS perfect, he faced temptations. He responds to the tempter with scripture. This is the same power we have to avoid decisions we will regret: scripture.

In Luke 4, Jesus was led to the wilderness (by the Holy Spirit no less!), starving and alone. To make matters worse, his enemy was dangling his greatest needs in front of him. Satan attacked at Jesus’ most humanly vulnerable moment, trying to tempt him. If anyone was facing choices that could lead to huge regrets, it was Jesus. At one point, in verse 5, Satan tried to tempt him with power. He offered to give him all the kingdoms. Satan was telling Jesus to pack up his things, put God in a box, and walk away because he could have his own power and authority.

The catch was he had to worship the devil to gain these kingdoms. Instead of giving in, Jesus knew the power he had. In verse 5, he replied saying, ”The Scriptures say, ‘you must worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” Jesus acknowledged this truth at his weakest moment, namely to live without regrets you must worship only God. Jesus could have shown Satan his kingdom. It must have been very tempting to really show Satan a thing or two about power!

The times in my life when I had the biggest regrets are when I would try to pack my bags, put God in a box, and walk away, such as when I was in high school and almost said, “No” to cosmetology school. It was a scary choice to make. I wanted to run from God and tell him to get on my shelf. As if I should keep him up there to avoid making any risky decisions.

I am so glad I made the decision to obey him, because it has given me awesome opportunities. I worshiped God by saying yes to something he called me to do despite me being afraid. Whenever you are tempted to put God on a shelf and walk away, think about the decisions you are about to make. Hard regrets come when you refuse to put God in His proper place as Lord of your life. Jesus put God in his proper place and obeyed what he was called to do. When I was obedient to what God was calling me to step into, I honored him as Lord, and I have never regretted it!

Questions:
What is your biggest regret? When did you walk away from God? What is God calling you to step into that you are resisting?

Next Steps: 7
Have a conversation with someone you are close to if you have been resisting God and need direction.

Take time to reflect on your relationship with God if you are dealing with regret. Try to deal with your regret by letting go of it and then take a step in the direction God is calling you.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for leading the way and showing me what it looks like to live with no regrets. Inevitably, because I don’t have all the answers, I will regret some things, but the worst thing I could do is pack my things, put you in a box, and walk away from you. There have been so many times in my life that I have been tempted to do that. I don’t worship you as Lord when I go my own way. Would you show me where I am resisting and show me the bold step I need to take in obedience to you? Thank you for erasing my regrets and replacing them with confident steps on your path. I want to live an awesome life resisting temptations so please show me the way, in Jesus’ name. Amen!


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


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Is it True?

Today’s Scripture: Luke 3

In a recent message, Andy Stanley, the lead pastor of North Point Community Church near Atlanta, said that what people want to know most about the news Jesus brought is, “Is it true?” People believe all kinds of stuff without really investigating whether it’s true or not. I believe that the airplane I get on is going to fly me through the air, though I have never investigated, much less understood, the principles of aerodynamics behind it. I believe that when I go out to start my vehicle, it will not only start, but it will get me where I want to go. Luke gives us plenty of reasons to believe that what he writes in chapters two and three is true. And because it’s true, it will get us where we want to go.

Luke 2:1-2
1 At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. 2 (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.)

Luke 3:1-2
1 It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. 2 Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests.

These are very specific, verifiable facts from the time of the life and ministry of Jesus. They add to the solid body of proof, such as eyewitnesses, that allows us to have reason to trust what we learn about Jesus. Because these facts can be checked by us, as they were undoubtedly checked by the original readers, we don’t have to say, “The Bible says it. I believe it. That settles it.” We have much more than that when called on to defend our faith.

We also have the testimony of John the Baptist. Not only did John call people to repentance, but he called out Herod Antipas for his incestuous marriage to his brother’s wife. As a result, Herod put John in prison and ultimately had him beheaded. The reign of Herod Antipas is well documented in history by sources outside the Bible, giving credibility to the Bible and the claims of Jesus.

Before John was arrested, he had the privilege of baptizing Jesus, acknowledging him as the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.”

Luke 3:21-22
21 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

As difficult as John’s time in prison was, he knew he had been part of an amazing story. He knew it was true, and we can be confident of it too. We have good, solid reasons for the hope we have in Jesus. Our eternity with him started the day we placed our faith in him. Yes, it’s true, and it is the best news ever!

Questions:
Are there times when you wonder if the Gospel is true, or if Jesus really is who he says he is? What do you do with those thoughts?

Next Steps:
In 2020, commit to investigating the historicity and veracity of the Gospels. There are lots of resources available to do that. A great one is “The Case for Christ” by former atheist Lee Strobel. Study the Gospels and the prophecies Jesus fulfills. You can also listen to podcasts and YouTube videos with Lee Strobel and William Lane Craig debating noted atheists.

Prayer:
Father in Heaven, thank you for your Word and for all the detail you gave to assure us it is true. Thank you most of all for Jesus, who gave up heaven to enter into history to save us. Thank you that through him there is forgiveness of sin, release from guilt and shame, and eternal life with you! Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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Miraculous and Glorious

Today’s Scripture: Luke 2

One evening, as I sat in my living room enjoying our beautiful Christmas tree, I contemplated the Christmas miracle of God. The fireplace was glowing, diffusers were changing colors and emitting a lovely fragrance, and the tree lights were illuminating the whole room. I love Christmas!

I sat for several minutes studying my dear grandma’s nativity scene. It brings back beautiful and precious memories of my Grandma Gerschutz. She was an amazing Christian woman whose love and laughter would fill the room. I smiled and focused on the nativity scene.

It is somewhat different from other nativity scenes because there are only 6 large pieces: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, and the three wisemen. (I know this is not historically accurate, but I love it anyway.) I started to focus on Mary. She was really a young girl. She is remembered for her humility, grace, and obedience. I wonder what she would have been thinking. Picture Mary’s plight with me. She is unmarried and very pregnant. She had to travel a huge distance on a donkey or on foot to Bethlehem to register for a census with her fiance, Joseph. Imagine how bumpy the ride must have been.

During the trip she went into labor. They couldn’t find a place to stay. She gave birth to Jesus in a smelly stable, wrapped him in strips of cloth, and laid him in a manger! This is probably not how she envisioned giving birth to her firstborn son, the Savior! I would be surprised if she complained about her situation. Surely she displayed great patience and grace. I wonder what she was thinking. Did she question whether she had given birth to the Savior? Was she in pain? I am sure she was overjoyed at the birth of her first son and was beaming from ear to ear. At the same time, she probably felt exhausted and confused.

I decide it is time to focus. I needed to read Luke Chapter 2 and prepare to write my Living It Out. Imagine my great surprise and joy, when I realize that it is the account of Jesus’ birth. I look up and smile and whisper, “Thank you God!”

Luke 2:1-7 describes the birth of Jesus. Like Mary, the account is not how I would have planned the Savior of the world being born. The narrative of Jesus’ birth never ceases to amaze me. Who do you think God would have chosen to be told first about the birth of his son, our Savior? Kings, royalty, or the rich? Nope, God had the angel of the Lord tell “lowly shepherds” first.

Luke 2:8-14
8 That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby guarding their flocks of sheep. 9 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to the people. 11 The Savioryes, the Messiah, the Lordhas been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David. 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”

After the host of angels left, the shepherds went to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph. Jesus was lying in the manager just as the angel had said. Can you imagine the shepherds’ joy? Picture Mary and Joseph as they watch the shepherds worship Jesus, the Savior of the world. They must have been overwhelmed by the miracle! The shepherds told them what had happened, and everyone was amazed. The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying God for all they had seen and heard. I am amazed at how God works! And it is not what you would expect. His ways are more miraculous and glorious than we could ever imagine. I love what Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

God’s thoughts and ways are much more miraculous and glorious than our thoughts and ways. God has a perfect plan, and it doesn’t make sense sometimes, but we can trust him! Jesus’ birth is a perfect example.

Questions:
How can you experience the joy and hope of Christmas this year? What is the true meaning of Christmas to you?

Next Steps:
Read each of the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ birth. Contemplate the savior’s birth. Praise and thank God for this wonderful gift!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I praise you and thank you that your ways are so different than my ways. Help me to remember your ways are perfect, and I can trust in you. I am so grateful for the greatest gift I have ever received: Jesus! Thank you for the joy and hope you fill me with at Christmas time. I adore you! 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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Visiting Angel

Today’s Scripture: Luke 1

Luke begins his book with the birth of John the Baptist, who was a miracle baby from God! He was born to prepare the way for Jesus as prophesied by his father Zechariah (Luke 1:76) at the time of John’s birth and as foretold by Gabriel (Luke 1:17). The angel Gabriel told Zechariah that Elizabeth, his wife, would have a son in her old age. Because Zechariah doubted this and began to argue with the angel, he lost his ability to speak until the baby was born (Luke 1:18-19).

Not long after, the angel Gabriel visited Mary in Nazareth to announce her coming child, the son of God.

Luke 1:34-37
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” 35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.” The NLT says, “For nothing is impossible with God.” (V. 37)

God chose these people. Can you imagine if Elizabeth and Zechariah had both said, “No! I’m too old to be a parent now!” Or if Mary had said, “Forget it. I’m planning a wedding, and I don’t need the scandal this will bring!”

Instead, there is hope to be found in our “impossible” trials, if we confess our doubts and turn to Jesus. We are offered the gifts of redemption and forgiveness, hope and fulfillment, and there is joy both in heaven and on Earth. God will grow us through his love and deepen our understanding and faith through his Word.

Isn’t this the greatest gift a person could ever receive? A promise that is everlasting and real, given to everyone who believes, if only we choose to accept it! How wonderful is that?

Questions:
Are you living the life that Jesus offers? Have you said, “Yes!” to God’s plan for your life as Elizabeth and Mary did? Are you ready to repent of your sins and have them all washed away? How is your faith being tested?

Next Steps:
Start each day in prayer. Use a traditional one, or just simply talk with God. Praise him for fulfilling his plan of salvation. Acknowledge that he is the source of all love, hope, and joy. Ask him to fill your heart with his joy and his peace and give you the courage to share it today. Thank him for being who he is and for moving in your life.

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, you are holy and worthy of our praise. You are the source of our love, joy, and peace. Fill me, Lord, until I overflow with your love and peace towards everyone I come in contact with. Thank you for all that you have done and for all you are doing. All of heaven and Earth belongs to you, and you are worthy of our praise. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Life with Jesus is Rich!

Today’s Scripture: James 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Pride vs. Humility

Today’s Scripture: James 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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The Power of the Tongue

Today’s Scripture: James 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Transcending Prejudice

Today’s Scripture: James 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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Wise Advice

Today’s Scripture: James 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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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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