Our Future Guaranteed – Easter

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I don’t know if you heard the Easter story for the first time this year, or if you, like me, grew up in a church, hearing the same story of the crucifixion and resurrection year after year.

As a child, I learned and understood the basics of Easter—enough so that I gave my life to Christ at the age of 10. But as I got a little older and learned more about all the “fun” things this world has to offer, my basic knowledge faded. Over the years, the Easter story became more, “Okay, it’s that time of year again.”

When I reached adulthood, I put the “fun” things of my teenage years behind me, but my life became more like a reality TV show. I played the part for my audience, but I was missing the truth that God wanted me to see. I was doing the “Christian” thing: I felt like I had a good relationship with Jesus, I was attending church, praying, and trying my best to live a good life that was pleasing to him, but I felt empty. Truthfully, I was just going through the motions.

Maybe you have been there, or maybe you have never made that step to follow Jesus. Either way, I want you to know that since attending CedarCreek Church for the last few years, I have felt more alive than ever before in my 60+ years. I have come to know Jesus in the way God intended for me to see him. I have discovered the gifts he has given me, found freedom, and am doing my part to make a difference.

The Easter story is no longer basic, or something I am supposed to celebrate. Now it is an awe-inspiring saga that I never tire of hearing and reading about. I am finally able to see what was right in front of me all along. My prayer is that you experience that too.

The whole Easter story is powerful, but allow me to dwell briefly on the resurrection. The fact that Jesus conquered death and rose from the grave is life-changing for you and me. It changes how we see our future. We no longer need to fear or doubt what lies ahead, because we can know that at the end of the road, there is still life—an eternal life with our Lord and Savior. And here is the beauty of it all, we don’t have to rely on ourselves to get there because Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and guide us.

Luke 24:49
“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as my Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven.”

Ephesians 1:14
The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.

So, I ask you on this day, do you truly know Jesus? Are you seeing the truth that is right in front of you?

Questions:
What does the Easter story mean to you?

If you take a hard look at your relationship with Jesus, do you know your future is guaranteed?

Next Steps:
Read the Easter story in all four gospels with purpose for a new clarity of who Jesus is.

If you haven’t already, attend GrowthTrack to discover the unique gifts God gave you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I never tire of hearing the story of all you did for me. I can’t possibly imagine the horrible agony you suffered on that cross, but I understand you did it because of your great love for me. I thank you. I praise and glorify your name because in your victory over death, you gave me hope and a promise that someday I will dwell in your presence. Thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to guide my path on my earthly journey. Give me wisdom to always call on the Spirit when faced with the trials of this life. In the mighty name of Jesus I pray, Amen!


This post was written by Ned Miller. Ned loves serving through writing on the LIO team, prayer team, group leader and as a greeter. He loves spending time with his family and working on his model railroad.


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Eternal Purpose – Easter

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Do you ever wonder what those three days between Jesus’ death and resurrection were like? When I read the Easter story, it’s easy to gloss over those handful of verses between Jesus’ death and when he appears to the disciples. I know the end of the story. But the disciples didn’t.

There’s one disciple in particular whose reaction I wonder about: Peter, formerly called Simon. He had been given a new name, a new identity by Jesus. He’d given up his life of fishing to learn from and travel with Jesus. And now … Jesus was dead.

Amidst all the grief and shock, I wonder if there was also confusion and aimlessness. What now?

Then Jesus appeared, having risen and conquered death. He had washed away the sins of the world, and given his followers an eternal future as sons and daughters of God.

But the Gospel doesn’t only give us a future, it changes our present. After Jesus’ resurrection, he went to Peter and gave him a purpose.

John 21:15-17 (NIV)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

When we trust in Jesus, he gives us a new purpose, too. It’s no longer the dead end of our own desires, ambitions, and fears. We’re called to glorify him and serve others.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us a purpose shaped by the promise of an eternity with him. We’re no longer living our day-to-day lives for ourselves, because we’ve been given an eternal purpose by a risen Savior.

Questions:
How does Jesus’ death and resurrection impact the way you view your purpose?

What is one step you can take this week to live out your purpose?

Next Steps:
Consider attending GrowthTrack, if you haven’t already, to discover your purpose.

If you’ve already been through GrowthTrack, encourage a friend who hasn’t attended.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the way Jesus’ death and resurrection transforms my life, including my purpose. Help me to live for you instead of for myself. Open my eyes to the opportunities you have placed before me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Sarah Pagel. Sarah is passionate about weaving stories pierced with beauty, light, and sehnsucht. She’s an avid reader of everything from dusty classics to modern fantasy. When not living in worlds made of words, she can be found spending time with her family, taking long walks, or practicing yet another Vivaldi piece on her violin.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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John Reading Plan


A New Creation – Easter

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Over the last several weeks, we have been focusing on really getting to know Jesus and were strongly encouraged to read the Gospel of John.

Throughout the Follower series and the John Reading Plan, we learned how Jesus reached out to the unlovable, the sick, and the sinners. (In other words, people just like us.) He was so different from the religious teachers of his time, who were so filled with pride and judgment that they avoided association with sinners, sick people, and the unlovable. They were blindly following and enforcing rules that were impossible to live up to and inevitably wore people down.

In comparison, Jesus was kind, loving, firm, and patient. He was obedient, truthful, and humble. Jesus spent time with people and taught them about God and their need for him in their lives. His ministry was about loving people where they were, and his love transformed them. Jesus boldly identified himself as the Messiah.

Jesus, the Son of God, came to Earth for one purpose—to save us from the penalty of our sin. He was the only perfect, sinless person to ever live, and therefore, the only person capable of paying the price for our sins. He willingly died on the cross and then miraculously rose from the dead three days later.

Praise God—Jesus is risen!

When we really know Jesus and believe in his resurrection, it changes who we are. Our identity is no longer based on what we do and what we like but on who Jesus says we are.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

This means once you believe that Jesus is your Savior and died for your sins, you are a new person—a new creation. Our salvation is not dependent on what we do (or don’t do), but rather, what Jesus did for us. We don’t have to follow a bunch of rules and strive to be perfect. We just have to accept it and follow him.

There is such freedom in knowing your worth does not come from a successful career, happy marriage, clean record, healthy body, or beautiful face. You are a child of God! You were put on this earth on purpose and for a purpose. And unlike all the other identities you have assumed throughout your lifetime, that will never fade, change, or be taken from you.

John 1:12
But to all who believed in him and accepted him he gave the right to become the children of God.

Questions:
Who is Jesus? What does being a follower of Jesus mean? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If not, what is holding you back? If so, how has your identity changed?

Next Steps:
Slowly read the Gospels and focus on Jesus. Carefully pay attention to what he was like, how he treated people, what his message was, and how he was different from the religious leaders. Really contemplate who Jesus is and make a decision to be a follower of Jesus.

Prayer:
Jesus, I praise you as my Savior. I thank you so much for your amazing love. You loved me so much you died for me and rose again to save me. I am so overwhelmed with love and gratitude. Lord, help me to always remember that I am your beloved child. I don’t have to earn your love or follow a bunch of rules. I just need to follow you. Work through me to love others and lead them to 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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Vulnerable Living – Easter

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It’s easy to get lost in the murky waters of our daily struggles. It’s difficult to see past our current reality and into the bigger picture that God has for us. Many of us have discovered that a life spent walking with God does not come with the promise of a trouble-free existence. However, it does promise us a trustworthy guide and companion.

Many of us feel tempted to display “perfection” to those around us. Take social media for instance—we want others to see us through a curated series of highlights that depict us having it all together. And while it is a different discussion why we shouldn’t operate based on what others think of us, it’s more important to note that God isn’t interested in our curated selves.

When it feels like our lives are unraveling—when we are humbled and brought to our knees in front of God—we are open to experiencing some beautiful, tender moments with him. We can be grateful for hardships because they provide us opportunities to be vulnerable in front of God. It is in those moments when we truly experience his grace.

2 Corinthians 4:17
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

Romans 5:3-4
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

God came to Earth and suffered with us and for us. His crucifixion and resurrection prove that death is not the end. We may never know why our suffering exists, but we can be comforted knowing that it won’t last forever, and we do not suffer alone. God offers us his peace and comfort in our struggles, and we can, in turn, extend that love and support to others as they navigate similar situations.

2 Corinthians 1:4
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Questions:
Does it come natural for you to be vulnerable with God? Or do you find yourself curating the version of yourself that you put in front of him?

What is a struggle you are going through right now, that you can invite God into? If you are already walking with him in it, what have you noticed him leading you towards?

Next Steps:
Imagine your social media feeds as the only things God sees/knows about you. Compare how different that would be from reality, and take a moment to pray specifically about those things that are happening in your life that you would never dream of posting online.

Prayer:
Dear God, I want to be vulnerable with you. I want to have you as a constant companion to guide me through my daily struggles. As I reflect on the Resurrection, remind me of your new Kingdom and how it is you want us to experience you in it. 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.


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?

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


The Gift of a Faithful Relationship – Easter

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We often work based on merit and suffer when our efforts aren’t praised. Getting passed up for promotions, not receiving party invitations, and not receiving enough likes on social media leaves us feeling unworthy and unwanted. We’re hurt when the other person isn’t working as hard as we are in our relationships. Sometimes, we just stop putting in what we aren’t getting back.

During his Easter message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder told us the unique qualities of Easter have always been in front of us. But the true meaning is only visible to us when we see Jesus for who he is and what he accomplished for us.

Some may think “If I do enough good in this life, then Jesus will save me.” The truth is—it’s not about what we do, but what Jesus did when he died in our place. Our good works cannot save us.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

This grace is an undeserved gift. It’s forgiveness for the wrongs that we are incapable of fixing on our own. And it was only made possible through a perfect, loving sacrifice—Jesus. His death reconciled us to God and made a way for us to have a personal relationship with him.

John 14:6
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

It is not simply the belief that Jesus died for us but also what happened three days later, when his empty tomb was discovered, that holds significance. No ordinary man could have accomplished this miracle, “but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26 ESV). It was the work of Jesus.

Jesus offers you salvation through his death, burial, and resurrection when you faithfully accept it as truth. Yes, Jesus died for you—FOR YOU. Not because you could ever do anything good enough to earn it, but because he loves you anyway.

John 3:16
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

God loves you and wants to have an eternal relationship with you.

Questions:
Do you think God’s grace is something you work toward?

Do you believe you deserve more of God’s grace because you’re a good person? Are you hesitant to accept God’s grace because you don’t feel worthy?

Do you have a relationship with God?

Next Steps:
Continue building your relationship with God by studying your Bible and attending a life-giving church.  Join us for our next series – Be You.  Help introduce people by sharing your story, so they can experience the life changing adventure with him.

Prayer:
Jesus, all that I have is through your power and because of your grace. Let me humble myself when my pride drives me instead of allowing your truth to inspire my movements. Thank you for continuously inviting me to have a relationship with you. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan