Open My Eyes to Adventure – Final Stretch

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All throughout the Bible, we see God inviting us on an adventure. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about this in week one of our series, The Final Stretch.

We’re invited to:

  • Know God
  • Find Freedom
  • Discover Our Purpose
  • Make a Difference

To find personal answers in Scripture and apply what you’re reading to events in your life, here are four questions to ask yourself while reading the Bible:

  1. How does this help me know God more?
  2. In what area is God revealing that I need to find freedom?
  3. What does this show me about discovering my purpose?
  4. How does knowing this help me make a difference?

These are simple questions, but they help us see the adventure God has invited us on. Recently, I applied these questions to Acts 2:46-47.

Acts 2:46-47
46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

We know God is generous and wants his followers to be generous as well. Sharing things like my time, resources, and talents with my community can help me find freedom when I’m tempted to be selfish.

Sharing also reminds me that my purpose is to love others by going out of my way for them. Sometimes that means sacrificing my time, resources, or talents, but doing so can make a difference in someone’s life by meeting a need or showing support.

This year, I was challenged to be more intentional with sharing by spending $20 a week on someone else. When one of my friends was having car problems, I realized this was one way I could be intentionally generous. So I wrote her a letter and put in an envelope with $20 dollars and a key chain that I got in Israel. That small act made such a big difference. I wanted to do more for her, but I realized even something small and intentional demonstrated a lot of support.

I was able to find freedom by being more trusting and open-handed with what God has given me. God used that step of faith to show me the purpose of being intentional and how it builds friendship. It put a smile on my friend’s face and encouraged her while she was dealing with her car problems. For me, it was a simple reminder that when you are intentionally generous, it can make an impact.

By reading God’s word personally and intentionally applying what it teaches to my life, I am able to grow in my understanding of God, find freedom from my own struggles, and experience some of my purpose by making a difference in the life of someone else!

God is inviting us into an adventure every day. When you read Scripture and ask questions like these, you can apply God’s lessons to your life in a way that helps you see the adventure God is inviting you into.

Questions:
What excites you about the adventure with God?
What keeps you from stepping into the adventure with God?
Which of the four questions above resonates most with you? Why?

Next Steps:
Take time this week to read Scripture and as you read, ask yourself those four questions.

If you resonate with finding freedom the most, join a Group. If you resonate with finding purpose or making a difference, join GrowthTrack.

Prayer:
Psalm 119:18
Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.

God, I pray for clear vision to see the wonderful truths in your instructions. Your instructions reveal powerful promises about who you are. Lord, help me to commit to spending more time with you so that I can know you more. And help me to reveal the areas in my life where I need to find freedom to see you more clearly and follow your way. I pray that out of that freedom, I find the purpose you have for me and use it to make more of a difference for your glory. God, you are inviting me on an awesome adventure, and I pray that your Word will give me the confidence and boldness to continue to step into the journey with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Say “Yes” to the Bible – Final Stretch

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When the alarm goes off first thing each morning, many of us go from being pretty much dead asleep to within moments checking our emails, pulling up social media and clicking on the latest news link. This is valuable time and energy invested into things most of us feel we need to do – after all, it’s best to know the latest and be up-to-date. This isn’t necessarily a new thing. Socrates’ “Triple Filter Test” advised that people should simply focus on what is true, good, and useful.

If we are being totally honest though, at its worst, the reasons we do this have zero to do with what is true for us, good for us, and useful for those around us, and in light of today’s topic, it begs the question: who is defining for us what is true, good and useful?

Joshua 1:8
“Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.”

Many people have a desire to read the Bible, and they believe it is something they should do, but they haven’t yet made it a part of their every day, a discipline. To say “yes” to reading the Bible, we have to say “no” to those other things that occupy our thoughts and time. Our God is a loving God who wants you to know him, but we need to spend time with him.

Psalms 37:7          
Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.

Paul had discovered the peace that comes from total trust in the Lord. When Christians mature to this point in their spiritual journey—when they no longer worry about the things they cannot change—then they rest in the Lord.

Mark 1:35
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.

In addition to knowing God’s word, Mark emphasizes that Jesus began each day of his earthly ministry with earnest, persistent prayer, seeking his Father’s wisdom. Jesus went to pray, not with others, but alone. The most precious times with God are those private moments between just you and him.

Psalms 46:10
“Be still, and know that I am God!”

God speaks into our lives today, and his voice communicates a profound love that changes us in ways both big and small. God sent his son to live as a man, die on a Roman cross, and rise again so that we could be saved and know him personally. Don’t miss this: only when we encounter the love of God are we truly changed at the very core of our being. When we focus on what his words tell us are true, good and useful, connecting then also with him in prayer, we will find peace, purpose, and strength in Jesus.

Questions:
How much time do you spend with God in your life? Do you pray to him alone, read Scripture, or spend time with other Christians?

Next Steps:
The degree to which you hear from God is directly related to how much time you spend with him. Commit to him today—attend church regularly, get involved in a Group, start a Bible reading plan, and spend some time alone with God during your day.

Prayer:
Abba Father, I kneel before you to offer myself so that I may spend time and energy in your word and have a prayerful life with you. Lord, help keep me in the spirit of prayer so I do not neglect this commitment to you, spending time in your presence to know and experience your love. Help me to trust that your words are true, good and useful and bring them back to me as I pray! Amen.


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


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Personalize Your Relationship with God – Final Stretch

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When my grandfather passed away, I spent days telling the stories he shared with me over the years. Some forgotten moments warmed listeners’ hearts, but other tales of my grandfather’s past were met with oohs and ahs. I quickly learned that many family members didn’t completely know his legend. My guess is that my grandfather noticed my excitement while learning about his life, so he made sure to tell me as much as possible.

We tend to be more open or intentional with our interactions when we know our audience is personally involved. God isn’t the same way. His words have always been, and will always be, personal to us, no matter our response. This past weekend, Andy shared with us that the best way to navigate life’s difficult circumstances is to listen to God. The best way we can listen to God—read our Bibles personally. Remember Andy shared, “If God is speaking personally, we should listen personally.”

How do we make it personal? How do we teach ourselves to listen? Rick Warren’s Bible Study Methods offers nine questions to ask when diving into your Bible.

Is there …

  1. A sin to confess?
  2. A promise to claim?
  3. An attitude to change?
  4. A command to keep?
  5. An example to follow?
  6. A prayer to pray?
  7. An error to avoid?
  8. A truth to believe?
  9. Something to thank God for?

Colossians 2:6-7
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

As I read the Colossians passage, I used this technique and focused on a couple of questions: Is there an example to follow? Is there a truth to believe?

Yes—Jesus was sent to be the example for us to follow, and the truth to believe is that acknowledging Jesus in all we do will keep our faith heading in the right direction. There were too many times when I only followed God because it fit my needs. My faith was lacking because I wasn’t pursuing a personal relationship with God, but my world opened up when I started to really concentrate on my spiritual development.

Questions:
Do you think your relationship with God is personal? Do you feel a disconnect when you skim over God’s words?

Next Steps:
Find quiet time each day to study your Bible. Try to find ways that scripture fits into your daily life. Take GrowthTrack to discover God’s purpose for your life to mature in your spiritual development.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for not wasting any moments in my life and for continuously showing me grace and patience. When my faith seems small to me, remind me that my faith comes from your words. Let me remain encouraged to start each day with open eyes and ears, to see and hear how to use my relationship with you to spread your truth. Amen.


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


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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The Best Love Letter Ever! – Final Stretch

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Have you ever received a love letter from someone you hardly knew? Depending on the circumstance, it’s a surprise that could be at once unsettling and even a bit creepy, right?! But one received from someone you love is a joy. I received the first love letter from my husband in my barn on a beautiful summer evening, nestled in a bouquet of flowers and placed lovingly on my horse’s stall, right where he was sure I would find it. That was a very good day.

This past weekend, Andy shared that God speaks personally to us through the Bible—God’s personal love letter to each of his children. We have an opportunity every day to receive it with gratitude and excitement and eagerly read this personal revelation of his unceasing love for us. But do we?

There have been phases in my own life where I felt drawn to God’s Word, but instead of prioritizing it, I had more excuses than motivation. A few weeks ago, when Lead Pastor Ben Snyder discussed the four stages of spiritual growth, I realized I was stuck in the immature phase of my spiritual development. By not taking time to read God’s love letter to me every day, I was robbing myself of the opportunity to grow deeper in my faith and to gain greater peace and courage in hard times.

Then it happened. Motivated by Ecclesiastes 4:12, my husband and I decided to live life in a three-stranded cord with the Lord at the center.

Ecclesiastes 4:12
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

We made reading the Bible a priority and have since learned that our newfound dependence on God is the vaccination we needed against fear, anger, pride, and selfishness. It brings us joy, patience, and clarity of purpose—obtainable no other way.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (AMP)
16 All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; 17 so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

1 Timothy 4:8 (AMP)
For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.

Questions:
Do you prioritize reading God’s Word every day? If not, why? Are you too busy? If so, I encourage you to rethink your priorities and put reading God’s words to you first.

Next Steps:
Rearrange your schedule to spend 30 minutes every day reading the Bible. Before you begin, say a prayer of praise and ask God for a deeper understanding of his will for your life and the desire to obey him. Then pray for opportunities to know him deeper and serve him better.

Consider reading one portion from an Old Testament book and one from a New Testament book every morning. Here’s one if you are interested.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I’m sorry for taking so long to learn the importance of spending time with you, reading your love letter to me every morning. I recognize that I can serve you and love you with greater effectiveness when I connect with you personally through your Word each day. I’m sorry I have failed to do that, and thank you for waiting for me so patiently. Thank you for now blessing me a thousand fold for finally being obedient. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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Preparing for What’s Next – Final Stretch

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Have you seen the viral video of the comedian Robyn Schall reading her 2020 goals laughing hysterically? While some of us may be laughing, or crying, right alongside her, it underscores a truth that 2020 has brought into sharp focus. We have no idea what the future holds—we don’t know what next week, next month, or next year will bring. None of us could have predicted the events of 2020, but what is also true is that God is never surprised. Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald spoke this weekend about how we can prepare for whatever comes next by reading the Bible, focusing on God, and listening to him.

But how can we hear from God?

Andy pointed out that we primarily hear from God by reading the Bible. Wait…hear from God by reading? Yes, it’s true! We can hear from God today through reading the Bible (and since you are reading the LIO today, we’re pretty confident you want to hear from Him), but we may find ourselves in one of three groups:

  1. Those who have no familiarity with the Bible yet
  2. Those who want to read the Bible, but struggle to
  3. Those who engage with the Bible on a regular, fulfilling basis.

It doesn’t matter which category you belong to—we are so glad you are here, and even if you regularly engage with the Bible, this is important to remember – we are confident you can and will experience God personally through His word.

The bottom line for the weekend message is, “If God is speaking personally, we should listen personally.” God speaks personally. Why? Because he is personal. I believe God desires to communicate with us even more than we desire to communicate with him. Andy shared a simple, yet powerful prayer that we can say before reading our Bible: “God, speak to me.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
6 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

In our heart, when we are open to hearing from him, when we are faithful and open to whatever he wants to say to us, we will hear from him. We cannot predict what lies ahead—only God knows the future. But we can know God personally by reading his Word and be prepared for whatever comes next.

Questions:
How are you preparing for what’s next?
Are you listening for God to speak to you?
Are you setting aside distractions to hear from God?

Next Steps:
Begin reading God’s word. Set a reminder to read the LIO and then read the chapter the verse came from each day. More than 1 verse used? Just pick one and use a paper Bible, an online Bible, a Bible app, or an audio Bible to dive in!

Already been reading the Bible for awhile? Try listening to a chapter using an audio Bible while reading along with it.

Prayer:
Dear God, you are the source of all wisdom. Thank you for wanting to speak to me personally. Give me the desire to consistently read your Word. Help me to set aside distractions and listen for you personally. God, speak to me. I really want to hear your voice so I’m prepared for what comes next. Amen.


This post was written by Gaye Winterfield, a regular contributor to the LivingitOut.


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Press On – Final Stretch

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This has been a really rough nine months for most people. I believe God has a purpose for the struggles we endure. I think the most important thing he has taught me during this challenging time is to keep my eyes focused on the prize: GOD! It is so easy for me to get all worked up about everything going on in the world that I become very negative and lose sight of what is most important. Luckily, I have a wonderful mentor who gently steers my focus back to God when I am off track.

Philippians 3:14
I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

So how do we press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize? We keep our eyes fixed on God. We trust him, especially during the difficult times. We remember his love, faithfulness, and mercy.

Lamentations 3:22-23
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

God is so faithful, and he loves us so much! He has a great plan for our lives. We all need to remember that the best is yet to come.

It’s important to look for his blessings during the difficult times. I remember driving to work and feeling so overwhelmed by everything going on in our world. I looked up and saw a beautiful double rainbow. It seemed to go on for miles. I smiled and thanked God for his blessing. I praise God that even though I was down, I still was able to notice the beauty he created to bring us pleasure.

I know sometimes it is hard to stay positive. I tend to try to control things when I feel overwhelmed. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder reminded us that we are not responsible for the outcomes, but we are responsible for our contribution to the outcome. In other words, it is not our job to control things, it is our job to control our behavior during difficult times.

Life can be really hard, but it can be beautiful and wondrous too. The best really is yet to come. So, while we complete our journeys here on earth, we need to keep our eyes focused on the prize: God. We, followers of Christ, know how the journey ends … spending our eternity with our loving Father. And everyone said, “Amen!”

Questions:
How do you behave during challenging times? What do you focus on? How do you press on to receive the prize? What are some blessings you have received from God during the last nine months?

Next Steps:
Press on—make an effort to shift your focus during trying times to embrace peace, hope, and joy, remembering what God has in store for you. Here are some suggestions: Look up Bible verses about trusting God. Write them on index cards, and meditate on them when you feel yourself losing your peace. Write down three things you are grateful for every day and thank God for them. Journal on the ways God has helped you in the past, and remember them during the tough times.

Prayer:
God, I praise you. The best really is yet to come. Help me to realize how much you love me. Increase my trust in you during the tough times. Help me to lean on you and let you guide me through this journey. Always keep my eyes focused on you, the prize. Please work through me to give hope to others during difficult times. Help me to be positive and radiate your love, hope, and joy. 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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Forgive the Hurts – Final Stretch

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Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder continued our series, Final Stretch. His bottom line for the message was, “You can SPIRITUALLY FOCUS when you PURPOSEFULLY FORGET.” Ben gave us three key takeaways on the topic of spiritual amnesia. Today, we will unpack the importance of not hanging onto past hurts.

Has someone hurt you? Obviously, this is a rhetorical question. We have all been hurt by someone at some point in our lives, whether it be through something they did or something they neglected to do. The way we handle those hurts determines our ability to move forward in our spiritual growth, and to know more peace.

Isaiah 43:18 (NIV)
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.”

Living in the past is easy, but it needs to be left behind. Once a hurt is over and done with, although painful, it is only a feeling or a thought. Cease the replaying of what happened and your desire for a different outcome.

How do we stop the backward wishing?

We need to grieve what happened by allowing ourselves to see it and feel it, and then we need to give ourselves permission to move on. There is no need to stay hurt! Forgetting our hurts allows us to shift our focus to what is happening here—right now—where God is at work.

Jesus invited us to forget the hurts so they would not define who we are. When we live in the past, it’s easy to miss the gifts we’ve been given this season. It makes it difficult to see where God may be inviting us to Know Him, Find Freedom, Discover our Purpose, and Make a Difference.

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

We need to experience healing from our hurts, and the Biblical way of healing is through forgiveness.

What is forgiveness? At its very core, forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past. We cannot change what has already transpired—we can only change how we feel about it. Dr. Wayne Dyer, an author and speaker on self-development and spiritual growth, phrased this process so eloquently: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

Questions:
What hurts are you hanging on to? Are you allowing them to define your life?

Can you see the benefit of spiritual amnesia?

How good would it feel to experience the healing from these hurts?

Where is God inviting you to know him and find freedom from your hurts?

Next Steps:
Thoughtfully reflect on the hurts that you’ve healed. Journal about the process that helped you find forgiveness. Your past equips you to help others who are hurting. If you encounter someone who is suffering from the same type of hurt, be prepared to offer your redemptive help to them.

Prayer:
Please, dear God, hear my prayers. Grant me the wisdom to know how to forgive those who have hurt me. Show me ways to grieve my hurts so that I may experience the healing of forgiveness. Help me to move my focus from the past to what is here and now. Thank you for sending Jesus to this earth to be a shining example of forgiveness. In his name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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The Shame of Failure – Final Stretch

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When I was in high school, I played for the football team during my junior and senior years. We never won a game; rather, we were beaten miserably in most of those games. In fact, during one game, we lost so badly that almost 50 years later the score still stands as the worst defeat in conference history. Sometimes, I still feel the shame of this physical ineptitude and failure. I have been unable to put this in the past and completely forget it. I am ashamed to admit that I have attended games and actually rooted for the record to be broken so I no longer have it hanging over my head. My emotional life would be so much better if I would just put it to rest as something in my past.

This is what God wants us to do with the failures in our past. While my example of a sporting event may be trivial, we all have things we’ve done that we’re not proud of. Our failures may lead us to believe that God may not have a place for us on his “team.”

This is not true.

God desires for us to have what Lead Pastor Ben Snyder coined “spiritual amnesia.” God not only wants us to forget our past wrongs, but he also wants us to forgive ourselves—as he forgives us. This process allows us to move forward and be receptive to what he has in store for us in the future.

Before he met Jesus, Paul’s job was to oversee the capture and public execution of Christians. After meeting Jesus, he became the greatest voice for Jesus’s saving grace. He could have let the shame of what he had done, stop him from making a difference for God, but he didn’t.

1 Timothy 1:12-13 (NIV)
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

Philippians 3: 13-14
 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

We need to forget the labels that we put on ourselves. The truth is, God knows what you have done, but he is focused on who you can become with him.

Don’t let your past define you; instead, define your past as exactly that … the past.

Questions:
What failure(s) might you still be hanging on to?

What is keeping you from exercising spiritual amnesia?

Next Steps:
Make a conscious effort to leave behind whatever past discretion is holding you back from true spiritual freedom.

Embrace Paul’s example of accepting God’s mercy for our failures. Focus on what lies ahead, and apply it to your life.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for showing us such love and mercy and grace. Help us to realize that you want us to experience the joy of spiritual freedom that can only come from forgetting and letting go of the shame of our past failures and not allowing them to define us. Help us, instead, to focus on what you have in store for us from this point on, embracing the amazing journey that can only come from wholehearted service to you. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible 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.


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Glory of Our Past Success – Final Stretch

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We all want to make a good impression and show people our best side. For me, this desire often manifests as focusing on my past successes—the achievements and victories that I think represent my finest qualities. After all, that pesky voice of pride likes to whisper that I’ve done some pretty impressive things. Even if I don’t voice these self-satisfied thoughts, they come to mind far too frequently. Essentially, this mentality declares “my past accomplishments are what define and guide me.” However, Paul writes some eye-opening words on this very topic.

Philippians 3:7
I once thought these things were valuable, but I now consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.

That impeccable resume Paul once thought valuable … is worthless. When compared to Christ’s display of overwhelming grace and love as he hung on the cross, our promotions, performances, and creations mean nothing. But Paul doesn’t stop there.

Philippians 3:8-9
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

Though it’s initially shocking to hear our feats called “garbage,” this verse reminds us that knowing Jesus is the true treasure. I’m not sure about you, but for me, it’s uncomfortable to set aside the (false) glory of my past successes. It feels like taking off the training wheels, and it is unnerving to wobble as we learn to trust who grace says we are—and to whom we belong. Yet, verse 9 reminds us that we are free to set aside our accomplishments, because it’s our faith in Christ that makes us righteous—not the grueling effort to be impressive.

Matthew 6:21
Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

When our treasure lies in worldly accomplishments, our hearts reside there. If we reject the flimsy rewards of our own achievements to embrace the identity and direction God gives, we store up treasure in heaven. Notable accomplishments aren’t inherently wrong, but it is wrong to let them define you.

You are more than your impressive resume, large income, unique ability, or beautiful face. You are worthy because you are a child of God—and that is where you should seek your identity, value, and direction. Purposefully surrendering the value you have placed on your achievements will provide the freedom necessary to grow your faith.

Questions:
Do you look to your achievements for your worth and guidance? If so, why?

Which past successes are you hanging on to that should be surrendered to God?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the accomplishments that you allow to define or guide you. Then, prayerfully surrender them to God.

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for giving your Son so that I could be saved through faith. You have blessed me with skills and talents to accomplish wonderful things for your kingdom, but I confess that I sometimes place too much value in them. Help me look to you alone for my identity and direction. Amen.


This post was written by Sarah Pagel, a first-time contributor to the LivingitOut.


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


One Foot in Front of the Other – Final Stretch

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If I asked you to list the struggles or difficulties you’ve faced in 2020, I’m sure the list would be exhausting. In addition to all the regular 2020 “stuff” on my list, my mom had a major health event this fall and has a long journey of healing and restoration ahead of her. Her sister, my aunt, recently suffered an injury that has been a major setback, and the road ahead of her is a mountain of rehabilitation. While chatting on the phone with both of them, the theme that emerged was taking it one day at a time. The mountain ahead of each of them is immense. Looking at the entire mountain can be overwhelming. Over the weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder discussed a mountain that he recently climbed and reminded us that focusing on the next step, putting one foot in front of the other, is often what it takes to tackle the enormity of what lies ahead.

This same concept applies to us spiritually. Our theme verse for this message series is from 1 Timothy 4:8: “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” The day-to-day fundamental spiritual training in our lives is what strengthens us as we climb the mountains we’re facing. The good news is, as we come into this final stretch of 2020 and turn the corner into 2021, the steps that we take now to grow spiritually will give us the strength to endure any new challenges that we encounter.

Taking steps to KNOW Christ a little more every day is the training that will result in supernatural endurance.

Philippians 3:10-11        
10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

This week we’ll explore this and more as we strive to have “spiritual amnesia,” knowing that sometimes we have to let go of our past to grow closer to God. Ben said it this way: “You can spiritually focus when you purposefully forget.” In other words, we may need to forget what is behind us so that we can focus on the future God has for us. Over the next few days, we will put one foot in front of the other and unpack areas in our lives where we would benefit from spiritual amnesia.

Philippians 10:13-14     
13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us (emphasis added).

Questions:
Do you have an immense mountain that you’re facing? What is the next focused step that will help to get you up and over it?

Next Steps:
Knowing Jesus better each day is what produces endurance and strength. There are many ways to do that. One is to be in the Word through a devotional (like this LivingItOut). Another is to complete a Bible reading plan. (It doesn’t have to be Jan. 1 to get started.) The YouVersion Bible App also has devotionals by topic or book of the Bible and is a convenient tool to grow in your relationship with Christ. Don’t forget to check out all the amazing Bible study offerings on RightNow Media. You can learn more about RightNow Media and sign up for your free subscription here.

Prayer:
God, the mountain before me is immense, and yet, thanks to you, I’ve miraculously endured. Thank you for the grace and strength that you’ve given me. May I be disciplined and diligent to continue training for godliness, taking steps to know you more every day. Help me to forget what is behind and look toward what is ahead, trusting you every step of the way. In your precious and faithful name, I pray, 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.


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