A Foolproof Design – Where’s Norm?

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Lead Pastor Ben Snyder closed out the weekend message by sharing the theme verses for the series, John 10:27-29.

John 10:27-29      
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.

Have you ever heard someone say, “You’re all sheep,” with a disrespectful tone? They’re probably mocking you because they can’t convince you to follow their way of thinking. The truth is, like sheep, we are simple, stubborn, independent, and without proper guidance, tend to run toward what everyone else is doing. Culture convinces us that “the way of the world” should guide our lives.

What kind of sheep are you? Do you blindly follow celebrities, athletes, all types of media, and politicians? Or, as Jesus teaches, are you his true sheep who only follows his voice?

God gave us Jesus, our Savior, whose life is the perfect blueprint to follow. We sometimes lose our way, but as Christians, we have to trust our one true guide. Jesus protects us and knows us. His design is foolproof. Those other designs are counterfeit.

John 10:11-15        
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep. 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.

Questions:
What or who guides your daily focus? Are you only following God for the blessings you receive in your physical life? Or do you seek his voice when things get tough as well?

Next Steps:
Keep your focus on God’s truth and promises by studying your Bible. Don’t allow the new norm to isolate you from faithfully learning and growing in your dependence on Christ. Join a CedarCreek Group this coming semester to stay connected. Read the daily LivingItOut and reach out to the spiritual friends and leaders that God has placed in your life.

21 Days of Prayer:  The Economy and Businesses (Day 5):         
Heavenly Father, thank you for each business that makes up the economy of our community and region. You know the details of each one, and we pray they are firmly established in you. May their work be a reflection of your generous heart. We ask you to show them great favor. Give each business leader your wisdom through the challenges and opportunities placed before them, and may whatever they put their hand to have a legacy of eternal impact for your glory and the good of our community. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer:  Our Schools (Day 6):
Dear God, you said to “let the children come to you,” showing that you have a big heart for children. I pray for safety for the children, teachers, staff, and administrators as they embark upon a new school year. I pray for the district leaders as they make crucial decisions in this uncertain time, that you would grant them great wisdom. May your followers be salt and light in their schools, shining the hope that we have in you. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer:  Our Churches (Day 7):        
Dear God, today we pray for our churches. Guide us to be places of hope and healing to our communities. Help us meet the physical and spiritual needs in our cities. Use us to introduce people to Jesus and the amazing life of purpose he has for them. You alone are worthy of our honor and worship. Amen.


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


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Reaction or Response? – Where’s Norm?

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Where’s Norm? I tend to be more like the girl in the video that kicked off this weekend’s talk who says she didn’t particularly get along with Norm. She doesn’t miss him and is living the dream working from home, watching Netflix, and sitting by the pool. Similar to this woman, the pandemic has been more of a blessing to me than what most people have experienced.

Lead Pastor Ben likened the pandemic to what the Hebrews faced as Moses led them out of Egypt. On one side, they had the Egyptians, and the Red Sea was on the other. They were trapped with nowhere to escape.

Exodus 14:10
As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. …

Their response? They panicked!

Exodus 14:12
“Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

I know for me, sometimes it’s more comfortable to be in a mess, complaining about it rather than getting up and doing the work to fix it. Self-help guru Tony Robbins said, “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” 

When I start to feel overly stressed, I get mean. As Ben called it, being mean to those around me and being unable to stop myself is my “tell.” That’s how I  can tell the situation is getting the best of me. What’s your “tell”?

Ask yourself:

What is really bothering me?

Why am I feeling this way?

Are you a slave to opposition? Do you feel as if people want to tear you down at work or in your family? Are there obstacles that make you feel stuck? Is it COVID-19, the economy, your physical ability, the community? Are your assumptions disappointing? Are things not going the way you thought they would? Do you have fears? Are your dreams becoming nightmares?

Just stop. Be still. Pray.

Ask God to show you why this is getting the best of you? Put your focus on God. God wants you to have a life full of joy and triumph! It may require you to accept his sovereignty in all situations.

Exodus 14:13-14  
13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Questions:
Where do you see God at work? What or who guides you through the daily routines and decisions that you face? What steps have you taken to know God, find freedom, discover your purpose, and make a difference?

Next Steps:
Join GrowthTrack. Sign up to be part of a Group this semester. Take time to memorize John 10:27-29.

21 Days of Prayer: Hospitals and Healthcare Workers (Day 4):
Lord Jesus, we are confident in the power of your name, so we ask you to give medical personnel the supernatural strength and wisdom needed in their battle against COVID. Protect them from physical sickness and guard their minds and hearts from fear and anxiety. Help them to see and trust you and to find peace in you. Today, we pray for their families as well. May they remain healthy and grow stronger in the days ahead. Please bless this special group of people and bless the work they are doing in our communities. Amen.


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


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Normal According to God – Where’s Norm?

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When will we find Norm? That is the question on our minds. Right? When will my work life get back to normal? When will my children experience normalcy in this school year? When will I be able to sit with thousands of my fellow sports fans to watch my favorite football team again?

My answer to all these questions is, “I don’t know.” There is so much uncertainty, and moving forward is so difficult when we can’t make sense of where we are today. That is why it is crucial for us to have a guide to show us the way.

This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared that it is critical for us to make God our guide moving forward. After the Israelites left Egypt, they found themselves in the desert. God guided them forward with a pillar of cloud during the day for cover and a pillar of fire at night to provide light.

Exodus 13:21
21 The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night.

The Israelites were also guided by promises given to them by God. Promises that Moses shared with them before they left Egypt.

Exodus 6:6-7a (NIV – emphasis added)
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.’”

What’s amazing about God’s “I will” statements is that they are not only promises made long ago to the Israelites but also true for us today. Just as God led the Israelites on a journey, he has a journey for each of us as well.

This fantastic journey begins when God brings us out from a life that is enslaved to sin and void of knowing him. Our relationship with God is restored when we accept Jesus as our savior, but it doesn’t stop there. God continues to invite us into a deeper relationship where we know and trust him more each day.

As we know God more, we see that we are freed from our shame and hurt. We no longer have to hide our past or mask our inadequacies from others because we have become a new creation in Christ.

He redeems us by restoring our purpose. God has placed each of us right where we are for a specific reason. He has given each of us a unique personality, passions, and abilities to use for his glory—to serve him as we serve others. Together these help us live out our purpose to glorify God and point others to him.

His final promise is a promise of fulfillment as he takes us as his own. He calls us his children and his church. We are his plan to reach the world, and as we live it out, we make an eternal difference.

This journey is the life that God has for each of us. Here at CedarCreek, we refer to it as the “adventurous life.” As you take steps on this journey and allow God to use you to make a difference, you will go to places you would have never imagined. The journey will lead to moments of accomplishment and excitement. It will not be free of difficulties, but it will lead you to a life full of meaning.

This journey, or adventure, is God’s normal for our lives. He desires for each of us to experience “all the things”: peace, joy, freedom, purpose, fulfillment, and more. As you search for normal, remember to ask God for his version and not your own. Let God’s promises guide you to the normal he desires for you.

John 10:10 (NIV)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Questions:
How would you describe your normal?

Does it include peace, joy, freedom, purpose, and fulfillment—or anxiety, depression, bondage, aimlessness, and dissatisfaction?

Next Steps:
Reflect on God’s view of a normal life. Are you using it as a guide to move forward?

Write down your next steps in the areas of:

  • Knowing God;
  • Finding Freedom;
  • Discovering Your Purpose; and
  • Making a Difference.

Share your next steps with someone and ask them to join you on this adventure.

21 Days of Prayer: Our Leaders (Day 3):
Dear God, grant our leaders wisdom in this unprecedented time. (Name a few leaders specifically.) Help me to extend grace and confidence to the leaders you have placed over me. Guide and protect the leaders in our government, churches, communities, businesses, schools, and families as they make difficult decisions day in and day out. Thank you for allowing me to be an encouraging voice to the leaders above me. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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How Do I Find Norm? – Where’s Norm?

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During the weekend service, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder told us: “Your GUIDE determines WHERE you GO.” It is the “principle of the path,” as author and pastor Andy Stanley describes—direction, not intention, determines your destination. So who, or what, guides where you go? We’ve all talked to people who want to discuss their problems with us. But maybe they don’t have real problems as much as they have chosen to follow the wrong directional sign. They may be focusing on one of several things:

  • Future — Am I basing my decisions on what I believe my future may hold? Who tells me about my future? Am I trusting speculation—well, yeah! Because who can predict the future?
  • Feelings — Should I make decisions on how I feel at this moment about something? Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel differently! My feelings are fickle and often depend on the weather or what I’ve eaten!
  • Facts — According to whom? How can I vet, or trust, any of the sources of information on which I depend to make decisions?
  • Fate — Is it all “karma”? What goes around comes around? Sometimes it seems so!
  • Faith — What does God have to say about all of this? Can I trust him?

What really is guiding you? Is that guide the one you really want, or need? Pastor and author Tim Keller tells us that we have a source in which we can have supreme confidence. “The Bible is a case book for life,” How so, you might ask? The Bible illustrates how God guided people through the disruptions of their lives. If we follow Moses, the Jewish boy who grew up in Pharaoh’s household, as he leads the Hebrew nation out of Egypt to the Promised Land, we see how God guided them.

Exodus 13:20-22
20 The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. 22 And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.

This was how he led the Israelites. But God promises us, of the new covenant, more than this. He has given us more than a pillar of cloud or fire. He has given us his Spirit, his Bible, and his family. When we invite God into our lives, his spirit dwells in our hearts because of Jesus’ sacrifice. When we trust in God, his word becomes a living thing that guides our lives. He gives us his family, the church, to walk beside us, to love and encourage and worship with us. God promised to guide us every day, and he does it out of his love for us! The stories in the Bible remind us who God really is—he is a good and loving father who wants the best for his children!

Questions:
On what or whom do you base your decisions? Is this a source in which you have confidence, or does it change day to day? How can you learn to trust God’s guidance for the next step you need to take in your walk with him?

Next Steps:
Generally speaking, we don’t base our decisions on faulty information but rather a lack of complete information. Ask the help of your CedarCreek Group or a trusted Christian friend to give you input on your decision-making process. Pray, pray, pray. Then listen!           

21 Days of Prayer: Our Cities (Day 2):
Dear God, today, we lift up each city in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. We come to you—with one heart, one voice, and one prayer—to see COVID-19 halted, lives healed, hardships mitigated, people drawn to Christ, and your Spirit poured out in our communities. We humble ourselves, seek your face, and turn from our evil ways, believing that you will heal our lands. Lord, give us the wisdom necessary to unite us and lead us in the days ahead so our cities can be a light to our nation and a testament to you, our Savior. We pray this in Jesus’ name—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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Don’t Let This Get the Best of You – Where’s Norm?

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Do you ever get to a point when so much stress pours on you that you just laugh about it? This past Sunday, I was driving home on a rainy, dreary day, when suddenly, I had a car plow into the back of my truck. And two months ago, I had a spider bite that became so infected I wasn’t sure if my right leg was going to make it. It’s been a crazy year, and it’s only August! I don’t know how people do life without a belief in God.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think 2020 has gone out of its way to be challenging. It has been one thing after another, and I never seem to be on solid ground. The one thing I can count on is that stress and anxiety are a constant. Is this the new normal?

I could easily fall into that trap. I could wish and pray for things to return to normal, but to be truthful, this isn’t the first time that uncertainty has been a part of my life. I have faced challenges my entire life. We all have. And you know what? Here we stand. We’re still here. We’re still enduring and overcoming on a daily basis.

This week, as we take a spiritual journey together and grow in our faith, let’s remember the one constant we can depend on: God. Yes, we all want some normalcy back in our lives, but let’s be careful with what that means. Take a step back and examine what is motivating you—what’s pushing and pulling you through life? And be honest, if everything went back to normal and life was great, would your need for God remain as critical as it is today?

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said it this way: “Your guide determines where you go.” Are you guided by the future, feelings, facts, fate, or faith? This week, it’s important that we take a deeper look at ourselves and uncover where we are putting our faith. Who is your guide? Who and what do you trust when life feels crushing?

My friends, as we reflect and memorize John 10:27-29, let us remember that God will provide. As Pastor Ben said, “A spiritual look back will provide a helpful view moving forward.”

Our lives are a testament to that. We’re here today. We have overcome before, and we will persevere again. God is the one constant we can consistently depend on, and he wants to guide us through our challenges today.

John 10:27-29
27 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand.”

Questions:
How do you react to stress? Why?

In what or whom do you put your faith when life gets difficult? Yourself, someone, something, or God? Who is your guide?

With God as your guide, how can you approach difficult situations differently?

Next Steps:
It’s important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and approach situations with wisdom and spiritual maturity. It’s easier said than done, but practice does make perfect. Today is the start to our church’s 21 Days of Prayer. I invite you to participate in this season of prayer. The daily prayer focus will be included in the LivingItOut each day and additional resources can be found at cedarcreek.tv/21days or on the CedarCreek App.

21 Days of Prayer: God to be Known (Day 1):
Dear God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear on a daily basis where you are calling me to share the great hope we have in you. May I not be ashamed of your gospel, but may I be bold in proclaiming to all creation the good news that you are the way, the truth, and the life.


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


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Let Go and Let God!

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This past weekend, Sarah talked about the opposite of surrender. She talked about an issue so many of us deal with. The issue of being a control freak, or more nicely put a “control expert.” I have to admit, I tend to like to control stuff (Maybe you do too?), but I’m not crazy about the word “freak.” I definitely prefer “expert.”

Although, “freak” makes me think of the musical, The Greatest Showman, written about P.T. Barnum, the founder of the Barnum & Bailey circus. Barnum was the penniless child of a tailor but had the imagination and vision to create “show business.” He searched for those that society had labeled “freaks” and transformed them into “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He knew he couldn’t change the appearance of the performers, but he could probably change society’s opinion of them.

In Barnum’s adventure to make his dreams come true, he encountered pushback from many in society. He didn’t let that stop him from his dreams though. He pushed forward, solved problems, and failed at times, but he continued chasing his dream.

There is freedom in stepping in and doing what we can, but we all have situations that are beyond us. Beyond our education or expertise. Beyond our ability to manipulate. In those situations, we need to surrender what is beyond our control. In Barnum’s case, he surrendered and allowed others in his life to step in and help. (At least in the movie portrayal.) As a Christian, we need to also surrender control to God.

During her weekend message, Sarah Bucher spoke about understanding the difference between knowing if it’s ours to control or God’s alone. Another way to ask this is, “Have I done all I can?”

You may have heard of the “Serenity Prayer.” It is a prayer of surrender and emphasizes Sarah’s points.

“Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr (emphasis added)
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

When we face difficult circumstances in life, let’s learn all we can about it. Let’s Google it! Let’s use it. Let’s get counsel. Let’s pray about it. Let’s lead ourselves well, our families well, our teams well. Throughout it all though, let’s give it to God, and when we have done all we can, let’s get out of God’s  way and surrender it to him. Let Go and Let God!

Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

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

Questions:
What have you surrendered to God, knowing you cannot change it?

Where have you stepped up and had the courage to change something?

Where have you had the wisdom to let go and let God?

Next Steps:
Tell God what you need and thank him for all the things he has done.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me surrender to you and not be a control freak! Help me understand that happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ. Thank you for loving me and teaching me! Amen.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and four grandsons.


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God’s Got This

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During the weekend message, Sarah Bucher shared some practical ways to surrender ourselves to God by “requesting, releasing, and receiving” from him. God loved us when we were yet sinners, and his desire for us is to surrender our lives to his love and will.  Unfortunately, we resist turning over that false sense of control we all love so much, even to God.

As we go through life, many of us depend on certain things or people to find our purpose, happiness, satisfaction, and peace. Clinging to these false earthly saviors (idols) are pointless and cannot provide the true love we long for. The love only God can give us.

Jesus gives us an example of this on the night he was betrayed by Judas. He knew his Father’s will, and feeling his soul’s anguish, he went off to pray alone.

Luke 22:42
“Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

This distress did not come from any lack of desire to do the will of God, nor was he a victim to circumstances beyond his control. To Jesus, having obedience to the Father (God) and his divine plan for reconciling God and man was more important than his own desire—avoiding the physical suffering and temporary separation from his Father that would occur when he accepted the sins of the world upon himself.

1 Timothy 2:5       
For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus.

So Jesus opened his hands in full surrender and placed the situation completely under God’s control, knowing that God’s perfect will can be trusted. God’s got this!

Jesus received supernatural strength in his time of weakness in order to receive God’s plan. When we open our hands in surrender, God fills them up with his strength, peace, and presence. He gives us everything we need.

Because we live on this side of heaven, pain is a part of our story, even as it was for Jesus. In Romans 8:28 we read, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” When you trust in God, you can trade your fear for freedom and confidently rest in your surrender to him.

Proverbs 3:5-6    
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

Jesus’ example teaches us to make our request to God and release our own desires to receive God’s plan. The good in Jesus’ story was that his surrender redeemed the whole world, providing a bridge for us to God.

Psalms 84:11
For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.

Questions:
Do you want to know and do God’s will for your life? Can you take the step to surrender your will today? What’s holding you back from giving up control and trusting in God?

Next Steps:
You can search all your life, but you will never find what you are looking for outside of God. So, raise your hands and surrender your life and your will to him today.

Prayer:
Father God, you love us so much that you sent the only one who could save us from our sinful nature to pay the price demanded for our choosing sin and self over you—Jesus Christ—the perfect Lamb of God, the flawless sacrifice for our sins. Please forgive me, Lord, for playing god. Help me to release my own grip from my problems and plans and turn them over to you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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


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Seek, Surrender, and be Steadfast

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I met my best friend in high school, but we weren’t best friends until years later. In high school, we hung out with a lot of the same people and had some fun times (sleepovers, going to dances, etc.), but it wasn’t until college that our friendship really grew. We didn’t go to the same university, but what time we spent together was meaningful. We played catch-up via phone calls (landline phones, ha!) and eventually email. We got to a point that no matter how much time had passed since seeing one another, we could pick up right where we left off. Our friendship was, and is, deep.

In our 20s, our friendship was vital as we walked through a very painful season together following her husband’s death from cancer. Because of the trust and love we had built over the years, she was able to share honestly about her struggles with losing her spouse, especially at such a young age. Since then, she is the one (besides my husband) with whom I can fully share the GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY of life without judgment. And to this day, we still talk each other out of pits, point each other to Christ, and have some fun along the way.

She is my best friend, and I trust her.

This week, we have talked about surrender. In order to surrender to someone, you need to trust them. It’s hard to trust someone you don’t know. And while Tonya is my best friend, my bestest friend is God. I learned a lot about God for 24 years, but May of 1997 is when I surrendered to him.

The first step of being on the adventure with God is knowing him. If you don’t know God or anything about him, I encourage you to “seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7 NIV). He’s not hiding but actually wants a relationship with you. In fact, the Bible says “come close to God, and God will come close to you” (James 4:8). Go to a church service or attend online. Start reading the Bible (the book of John is a good place to start) to know him more.

If you already know about God, maybe it’s time to surrender.

  • Believe that “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8).
  • Declare that “Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead” and “you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
  • Give up your way and seek to follow HIS way. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2).

Finally, if you’ve known God for a while, continue steadfastly and give yourself “completely to God” (Romans 6:13). Just like I got to know Tonya more intimately over the years, the more time and effort you take to know God, the more you can trust him. “Those who know your name trust in you” (Psalm 9:10).

This is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth” (John 17:3).

Questions:
Do you know God? What steps can you take to know him more?

Next Steps:
The more time you spend with someone, the better you will get to know them. Carve out time to spend with God. If this is not a daily habit for you already, start with a doable commitment (reading this LivingItOut Bible Study every day, for example). If you’ve known God for a while now, take steps to know him more. Spend time studying the Word, talk with him in prayer, and surround yourself with others that are also seeking to know him more. As you know God more, you’ll be on a path of finding freedom, discovering your purpose, and making a difference in lives around you.

Prayer:
Dear God, I want to know you more. As I walk along the path of knowing you more, increase my faith and help me to trust you. God, I surrender myself and my way to you. Help me to know you more and give myself completely to you. In Jesus’ name, amen. (P.S. I pray that my daughter’s wedding goes well this weekend and that you’re glorified throughout their wedding day and in their marriage.)


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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


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Let God Be God

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I loved the weekend message! Sarah Bucher did an amazing job. I laughed when Sarah modified the title “control freak” to “control expert” because she thought control expert had a much better connotation. It may very well sound better, but the reality is that control experts drive others and themselves crazy.

I know this because I am a recovering control expert. (My loving husband just told me I’m still a control freak. He will be punished!) When things aren’t going the way I think they should, I try to “fix” it. I usually end up getting stressed and irritable. It seems like the more I try to control things, the more I feel like I am hitting my head against a brick wall. I wish I would learn that controlling and manipulating only tend to worsen the situation. I remember reading somewhere that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome—GUILTY!

The last several months have been a real eye-opener about how much control we truly have in our lives. COVID-19, stay-at-home orders, the economy, violence, and political unrest have rocked our world. I have spent a lot of time pondering, worrying about, and trying to solve these difficult issues. I wish I could say I was successful. Instead, I feel tired and overwhelmed.

When it comes to trying to control aspects of life, Sarah encouraged us to ask the questions:

Is it worth it?
Is it mine to control?
Is it God’s alone?

Using these questions as a filter to deal with life’s issues could save us from unnecessary worry and anxiety and lead to peace and rest in the midst of difficult circumstances.

1 Peter 5:7
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.Sarah defined surrender as trading fear for freedom. God can handle all our worries and anxieties. Jesus wants us to surrender everything to him. He does not want us to be burdened. He wants to give us rest and freedom.

Matthew 11: 28 and 30
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. … 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

When you are overwhelmed and feel the need to control and fix things—pause, take a deep breath, and pray. Ask God to give you faith that he is in control and that he has a perfect plan. You need to trust that God is God, and then you need to totally surrender your burdens (real or imagined) to him.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

I praise God that he is in control. I don’t have to fix anything—I just need to trust him and surrender to him because Jesus came to give us life in abundance.

Please make the decision to let God be God.

Questions:
What things do you try to control? What do you need to surrender to God?

Next Steps:
Read and meditate on Psalm 23. Journal the ways God has provided for you. Praise God for these blessings and reflect on them during difficult times.

Prayer:
God, I praise you that you are such a loving God. Help me to cast all my cares on you. I am so grateful that you have a perfect plan and I can trust you. Jesus, I praise you that you came so that I may have life in abundance. Help me to surrender my fears to you and live in your total peace, joy, and hope. 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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


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Let it Go (Not you, Elsa.)

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I absolutely LOVE the TV show Friends. I most definitely identify with Monica! I have a need to know that things are being done correctly and are going in the right direction. I like to be in (cue the dramatic music) … control.

Having control makes me feel as though I have a little power over how things turn out—letting go of that control is a tiny bit scary for me. For instance, before becoming a stay-at-home wife and mom, it was hard for me to let my husband take the lead in providing for our family. I was afraid that if I let him be “in control,” everything would go wrong—we would suffer financially, and our marriage would crumble. After a lot of prayer and God’s amazing intervention, I have been happily unemployed for three years, and it has been a tremendous blessing not only for me but also for our entire household.

Fear is rooted in the idea of surrender. Letting go and allowing someone else to take the reins is not an easy task for many of us.  As a parent, it is not easy to allow our children to make their own decisions. As a spouse, it is not easy to allow our mates to take on tasks that they may have never done before! Likewise, moving in an uncomfortable direction out of obedience to the Lord isn’t an easy thing either.  Releasing our grip on anything can cause serious anxiety and fear. But God has given us assurance when we do!

Job 23:14
So he will do to me whatever he has planned. He controls my destiny.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

God has remarkable plans for us, but we have to surrender to him for his plans to unfold in our lives. Over the next few days in the LIO, we will examine what it looks like to surrender.

Questions:
How does the idea of surrendering your control to God make you feel? What has the Lord asked you to surrender for him?

Next Steps:
Ask the Lord to prepare your heart for surrender. Study the Gospels and search for a devotional on the topic to learn why surrender is so important and how to achieve it.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for surrendering for us! Thank you for giving us your word to teach us how to surrender to you. Open our hearts to be more sensitive to your desire and to allow us to see that your plans are always perfect! In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by TreVe Carter. TreVe is a housewife. She loves taking care of her two daughters and Mother. When’s she is not beating her husband in Jeopardy, she serves at Cedar Creek on Brew Crew. She loves Jesus. She also loves to cook and bake and one day would love to compete on the Holiday Baking Championship.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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