Green Meadows – Brian Tome Weekend

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We finished last weekend’s service with the song “Battle Belongs.”

The lyrics speak to how much God sticks by our side no matter what we’re going through. God doesn’t promise that our lives will be all smooth sailing just because we follow him. But he does promise to walk through life with us, to be a rock for us to stand on, a father we can lean on, and a provider who will protect us.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Man, that sounds amazing! I want to live in that picturesque green meadow and sing “Just Around the Riverbend” every day with a pet raccoon. Think of the peace David must have had to feel so much joy. The trouble is, I don’t think David wrote this while sitting in a perfect meadow as described. He had fallen in love with God so much that merely being in a close relationship with God dissolved David’s troubles and transformed his surroundings into beauty.

While we may not be resting on a hammock in a green meadow, we can feel peace and joy when we walk with Jesus. He is the master of transforming ugly things into beauty, of setting captives free, and of protecting his sheep. No matter what terrible things may be happening around us, Jesus leads, guides, protects, and provides. There is an invincible joy when we allow him to shepherd us.

Questions:
What would it take for you to feel God’s comfort the way David describes in Psalm 23?

What distracts you from having a closer relationship with God? How can you lessen or eliminate your distractions?

Next Steps:
If you aren’t doing so already, start keeping a prayer journal. Make it a habit to reflect on how God walked with you (and sometimes for you) during each time of struggle.

Prayer:
Dear God, whether or not I recognize it, you are always with me. I pray that I can not only remember this but also feel your presence and the peace David describes in the Scriptures. You knew me from the very beginning, and you’ve seen my whole life. You never leave my side. Thank you for your promises. Amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a blogger at GratefulSheep.com and a stay-at-home mom and wife. She loves writing for this team, and she hopes to help convey God’s message through this study.


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An Attitude Worth Catching – Brian Tome Weekend

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I was talking with a co-worker today about the attitudes we often run into with others. I shared that my dad always told me “attitudes are contagious—make sure yours is worth catching.” I have to admit I often forget that wise advice.

My friend is building a new home, and suddenly I’m seeing all kinds of things wrong with mine. Someone I know gets a new car, and suddenly I want to trade mine in too! A co-worker reaches retirement, and instead of focusing on how happy I am for them, I start grumbling because I still have to work! What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I have what they have? I forget that God has blessed me with the same opportunities he blessed them with.

Matthew 7:11
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Where do you want more?

Brian Tome said he wants these wins: more people at his church, money in his bank account, fun with his wife, friends he can count on, a pool in his backyard, grandkids, and spiritual gifts.

Where do you want more? Are you taking action on it? Or is it only a pipe-dream?

I am blessed to have a home. And it may be old, but God blessed me with the opportunity to remodel the bathroom this summer, and it’s beautiful! I also have a decent car to drive, and since it will be paid off soon, I don’t need to be jealous of my friends’ car payments! I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work just seven blocks away from my home for 27 years, and I’ll be able to retire in just three more years! I am making preparations now for future home repairs, car payments that are lower, and working part-time doing something I love.

I am looking forward to that day when I can spend the rest of eternity praising and worshiping my maker. But I am using the time I have left to share the gospel message with as many friends, family, and even perfect strangers as I can. I’m investing in my here and now, but more importantly, I’m investing in the everlasting love only my Father in heaven can give. And that brings more joy than any house, car, or job ever could.

Questions:
How do you feel about the “stuff” you have in your life right now? Do you want more? Do you have a goal and a plan to achieve it? Have you asked God to help you?

Next Steps:
Learn more about the people in the Bible God chose to bless. Do a Bible study about David. Learn how God blessed him and what made him a man after God’s heart.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, you have blessed me with so much, and I am grateful for what you have done, are doing, and will do in the future. I pray for prosperity, health, and good fortune, and I ask with a humble heart. I give my life to you, to do with as you will. I will rejoice in you Lord, and I will sing songs of praise to my Savior whether in plenty or in wanting. I praise you! In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Whatever It Takes – Brian Tome Weekend

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As we take another step into Pastor Brian Tome’s message, 2 Samuel 6:12 reveals King David was not a quitter. He was willing to do whatever it took to receive God’s blessing.

2 Samuel 6:12-13
12 Then King David was told, “The Lord has blessed Obed-edom’s household and everything he has because of the Ark of God.” So David went there and brought the Ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the City of David with a great celebration. 13 After the men who were carrying the Ark of the Lord had gone six steps, David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf.

Did you catch that? David sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf for every six steps taken by the men carrying the Ark. Think of the painstaking time and effort that it must have taken. But David was committed to do whatever was necessary to receive God’s blessing.

Wearing a priestly garment, David danced with all his might before the Lord. He and all the people of Israel shouted with joy and blew rams’ horns as the Ark was brought to the City of David. While it may seem like his were over the top, missing God’s blessing was not an option he would accept. Upon completion of his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord. He then gave every Israelite man and woman a loaf of bread, a date cake, and a raisin cake.

The determination demonstrated by King David in this story is admirable. In our service to God (and man) as followers of Christ, giving it—whatever it is—our all honors God. The abilities and talents he has gifted us with are for his glory and his purpose. Becoming his instrument is a process, an honorable process! As we allow him to make us a holy vessel—his vessel—blessings will flow to us and through us.

When I choose to regard every possession with my name on it as truly belonging to God, based on his generosity to me, my heart is full of contentment. Consequently, the words of Jesus, spoken in Matthew 6, become a lifestyle of choice.

Matthew 6:19-21
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth …”
20 “Store your treasures in heaven …”
21 “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

Matthew 6:33
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Questions:
What amount of effort are you willing to exert to be a blessing to others? Do you bless others intentionally? What steps might you take to be a blessing to others?

Next Steps:
List steps to take to ensure success. Examine your work ethic. Examine your motives. Contrast your work ethic and your motives against God’s word.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for surrounding me with your love. I want to be a vessel of your love. Show me the areas of weakness in my character that keep me from being a blessing to others. Create in me a generous heart. Fill me, again this day, with your Holy Spirit to be sensitive to the spiritual needs, physical needs, and emotional needs of others. It is my hope to graciously share your generosity to me with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.


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Failure is Never Fatal – Brian Tome Weekend

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Sometimes, we go out on a limb, take a risk, and things don’t turn out as we intended. Other times, we try really hard but still come up short. Failure comes in many forms, such as moral failure, making a mistake or going down a path filled with regret. Financial. Relational. Social. Educational. Professional. Failure is a part of life, and it’s hard to deal with, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story.

There are so many stories of failure in the Bible, and David is a key example. David, described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), is credited with writing most of the Book of Psalms and was chosen by God to be part of the lineage that our Savior Jesus would come from. He was a leader of the people of Israel, and he provided numerous examples of human failure.

This weekend, Brian Tome, lead pastor of Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, shared a glimpse into one of David’s such failures. In 2 Samuel 6:1-11, King David led a campaign to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to the City of David. In this journey, mistakes were made and God became angry at their mishandling of the Ark. The mission was such a failure that one man was struck dead by God. Fearing God’s wrath, David decided to end the mission and abandon the Ark.

2 Samuel 6:9-11  
9 David was now afraid of the Lord, and he asked, “How can I ever bring the Ark of the Lord back into my care?” 10 So David decided not to move the Ark of the Lord into the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-edom of Gath. 11 The Ark of the Lord remained there in Obed-edom’s house for three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and his entire household.

This failure could have been the end of the story, but after seeing the blessing bestowed on Obed-edom’s house, David decided to try again.  He led a second campaign, this time taking extreme measures that led to the mission’s success.

I am reminded of this quote from Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, “Failure is never fatal.” Whatever our failures, we need to remember this and believe it is true. If your heart’s still beating then failure has not defeated you. The song “My Testimony” by Elevation Worship captures this truth in these lyrics: “If I’m not dead, then you’re not done … Greater things are still to come.” Another line says, “Cause grace rewrote my story, I’ll testify.”

Are you willing to walk in the grace that God provides and try again? He promises to be with us every step of the way. In his mercy, our failures are not fatal. God’s not done working on, in, or through any of us. He can turn even the darkest of our failures into a story, a “testimony,” for his glory. And who knows, there may even be a surprise blessing for you along the way!

Questions:
Are you feeling defeated by a failure? How does the story of David encourage you?

Next Steps:
If there’s a failure in your life that falls under the category of sin, then confess, repent, and turn it over to God. If you’re struggling with your worth based on any failure in your life, remember who God says you are—loved, redeemed, wanted, and held. Share your feelings with a trusted friend or mentor. You’re not alone. Groups are also a great way to get help along your journey. Think back to a failure that you’ve put behind you and journal about God’s faithfulness despite any shortcomings you might have had.

Prayer:
God, we thank you for being faithful and gracious despite our many failures. We are grateful that, through you, failure is not the end of our story. Your goodness helps us to pick up and move forward after failure. Give us the strength to try again, resting in your grace along the way. May our stories turn into testimonies for your glory. In Jesus’ name, 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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I Want More – Brian Tome Weekend

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Many times, the statement “I want more” is considered selfish and self-centered. This weekend, our guest speaker, Brian Tome, shared that when viewed correctly, through God’s perspective, we should want more for our lives, and that should motivate our actions.

We saw this in the life of David. He was a “man after God’s own heart,” and yet he was constantly asking, “What’s in it for me?” We can see this in 1 Samuel—David’s primary motivation for fighting Goliath came from Goliath’s disrespect and blasphemy against God. David was righteously angry that Goliath would challenge God and his army. However, we also see that David wasn’t shy in asking, “What do I get if I fight and kill Goliath?”

1 Samuel 17:26 (NIV)
David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”

We also know God wants to bless us and give us good gifts.

Matthew 7:11 (NIV)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

God can bless us with material possessions, but I don’t think that is his main goal. God wants us to continually grow to become more like him. He wants us to ask, “What’s next?”—not to settle or be complacent. This “What’s next” mindset can motivate how we live and act. This is the tension: learning, choosing, to be content while pushing forward to what comes next.

We should be constantly looking and asking God for the next step in our faith journey. What’s in it for you? The blessing of a never dull, full life and a faith that keeps growing.

What is your next step?

Questions:
What is keeping you from asking God for more? Where has God been leading you to take your next step?

Next Steps:
Ask God what’s next for you. Maybe it’s participating in GrowthTrack, joining a Group, or attending Celebrate Recovery. Whatever it is for you, take that next step forward.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, lead me into the next steps of my faith journey. Help me to desire continual growth and nudge me to ask you for more. Don’t let me settle or become complacent, but encourage me to seek adventure with you. Amen.


This post was written by Gaye Winterfield, a first-time contributor to the LivingitOut.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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