Serve with Love – For the Win!

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God has grown me a lot over the years. Although I don’t exactly know how I portrayed myself to people during my more youthful years, it’s likely I spewed some comments or acted in ways that prevented some from taking their first spiritual steps. I’m actually thankful we didn’t have social media in the ’90s because an unchecked version of a younger me would’ve likely made things much worse. (Unfortunately, I remember a few Christian conversations with nonbelievers that didn’t fare well.)

I grew up with a couple of female friends who shared the same interests as me. I was the only person in my circle who was saved, and eventually, I learned that they didn’t always include me in their full conversations. Someone decided to share that secret with me in our early 20s. They feared my Christian beliefs would end our friendship, so on occasion, they would purposely withhold the full story. My response was, “If my initial reaction was to stop being your friend, then I was never your friend to begin with.”

Part of their reason for finally telling me the truth was because they noticed my community service. I extended my friendship to everyone, not just to those who looked and thought like me. They said I shared my identity without attempting to shove it down anyone’s throat, and those qualities erased any doubts they had about my possible (over)reactions.  

Matthew 28:18-19
18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

I’m not saying I helped those friends take their next spiritual step, but I kept the door open by letting them see my genuine intentions and loving them—because they were worth loving. It’s that simple. I try to do the same for anyone I encounter, even if I fail more than I would like.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with two of the friends from that same circle who hadn’t spoken to each other in 17 years. My buddy told us his fiancé’s mother recently passed. Hootie and another from CedarCreek delivered loving words during the eulogy.

He shared this with me since he knew my family attended CedarCreek from my social media posts. He thanked me for how my wife and I chose to raise our kids and shared his appreciation for everything the church did to help throughout the grieving process. Although he’s not sure what he believes in, he sees the benefit of living life differently than before.

I pray that we all share Christ’s love with those around us and keep our “doors open.” Eventually, someone will show up—be ready!

Questions:
Do you choose to serve outside of church events?

Do you believe you can help others take their next spiritual step?

Next Steps:
Invite someone to join the Group you’re in or text “GROUPS” to 419-419-0707 to find out what is available. Take part in and mention GrowthTrack so you and others can discover God’s purpose in your lives. Don’t be afraid to keep inviting someone to church.

Don’t miss a day of LivingItOut. The LIO will be moving soon. Sign up for our new platform by texting LIO to 419-419-0707 and choosing to get your LIO by text or email.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 19 Focus – To be Broken Before Him (Psalm 51:17)

Dear God, I have missed the mark of righteousness many times. Yet while I was still separated from you, you loved me and sent your Son to die for me. Thank you, Lord. Today, I offer my broken spirit to you, for you alone can make it whole. I come to you asking for forgiveness from (insert areas of sin here), knowing I need you. Heal me, God. Teach my heart to break for what breaks yours. In your Son’s name I pray, amen.)

Today’s Parent Prayer

Day 20 Focus – For Growth (Ephesians 4:15)

Heavenly Father, I am not who I was before I met you—and it’s all because of you. Thank you for the growth I have been through, and thank you that you’re not finished with me yet! Teach me to be more and more like your Son every day. Help me to submit humbly to the situations you use to change my heart, even when I wouldn’t choose them for myself. Above all else, may I grow in love for you and for others. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer

Day 21 Focus – To Praise Him (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Dear Father, I praise you for all you have done in my life and in my heart over these last 21 days. Thank you for drawing close to me and for leading me. Help me to continue growing and taking steps toward you throughout this year, so that I might know you more and make a difference for you. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


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.


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Serve Others – For the Win!

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Can you imagine being one of the apostles sharing the Last Supper with Jesus when he stated that he would be betrayed, suffer, and die? Remember, he is the greatest and smartest man to ever walk the earth. For three years, he was your closest friend. You followed him and gleaned invaluable bits of information, instructing you how to live your life. What question would you first ask him?

Luke 22:24-27
24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25 Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26 But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you shall take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.27 Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”

The apostles quarreled about rank and who would be more important. While we might view this as ridiculous, keep in mind, the apostles didn’t have the benefit of knowing the whole story. Perhaps if they had, they would have focused on the serious matter at hand, rather than concentrating on trivial things.

Now, Jesus could have gotten angry with the apostles, but he did not. Instead, he chose to use it as a teaching moment to juxtapose the secular world with the Kingdom of God.

God’s Kingdom is an upside-down kingdom, where leaders are servants, the last are first, and humility is exalted. Jesus redefined a great leader—not as one who sits back and is served but as one who serves others.

The way of Jesus is countercultural to the way leadership is viewed by the world. The world looks at the greatness of a leader by how much authority they have.

By humbling yourself and serving others, you are following Jesus’ example. Jesus deserved to be served, but he chose to serve others and give his life for them.

In the Great Conduct, Jesus tells us the way to love your neighbor as yourself is to serve others.

John 13:12-15
12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”

Verse 13 states that Jesus is the apostles’ Lord and Teacher, and we should regard him the same. Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and nothing can take that away. We need to follow his teachings by carrying out his example of sacrificing and humbly serving others.

The Bottom Line:  Winning with others is why we are still here.

Questions:
Are you serving other people? What is your motive behind it? Is it to serve them or to benefit in some way?

Why is serving others so important? Did you know that God blessed us to be a blessing to others?

Next Steps:
We can all be leaders. Write out a plan about how you can lead by serving.

Attend GrowthTrack. This is a four-week program that will help you discover your unique gifting and purpose. It will show you how to begin living the fulfilling life God planned for you.

Don’t miss a day of LivingItOut. The LIO will be moving soon. Sign up for our new platform by texting LIO to 419-419-0707 and choosing to get your daily devotional by text or email.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 18 Focus – To Receive Power (Philippians 2:12-13)

Heavenly Father, thank you for working within me. I am in awe of the changes you make possible in my heart, growing me to love you and others more. I praise you for saving me—for making salvation possible through your Son. Help me to share this gift with others. Teach me to desire what you desire. I trust you to give me the power to do all you ask of me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


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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Created to Love and Be Loved – For the Win!

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One of the greatest struggles that we as Christians face is loving our neighbors as ourselves. We get so caught up in our own struggles that we often forget that Jesus has commanded us to carry each other’s burdens and help each other through their struggles.

In our society, we are taught the values of independence and ambition, with the goal of striving for personal success. However, as Jesus followers, we are set apart by God. Each of us is created to share the same love and grace God has blessed us with to be a blessing to those around us.

In the Gospel of Mark, a religious leader asked Jesus, of all of God’s commandments, which is the most important. Jesus answered that loving God with all our strength is the most important. However, he did not stop there—Jesus also taught that loving our neighbor as ourselves is equally important as loving God with our whole hearts.

Mark 12:31-34
31 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’” 32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other. 33 And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.” 34 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.

By loving our neighbors as ourselves, we show the love of Jesus by how we live our lives. This is the way in which we can truly live out our faith and lead others to Christ. Once we surrender our hearts to God and make him our highest priority, he gives us the heart and desire to share that love with others.

God created each of us in his own image—he created us to love and to be loved. He loves each one of us so much that he even sacrificed his only son to give us the opportunity to spend eternity in relationship with him.

Loving our neighbors as ourselves is a choice that we must make every day. It is not easy, and it takes a great amount of patience and compassion. It means loving others by celebrating their successes and being there throughout their trials. It also means putting our judgments and hurts aside to love people the way that God loves us—unconditionally—even when it is uncomfortable or requires us to sacrifice our own desires.

God loves each of us deeply, regardless of our mistakes or hurts. Once we fully give our hearts to God, we are filled with his love and peace. How beautiful would it be if each of us shared that love with those in our lives? Loving each other the way God loves us is the only way to fully appreciate and live out the purpose God has given us.

Questions:
Why do you think that Jesus included loving your neighbor in the Great Commandment?

What are some ways in which you can actively love your neighbor in your daily life?

Next Steps:
Join a Group this Winter Semester to connect with other Jesus followers and build life-giving relationships with those around you.

Step out of your comfort zone and invite a friend to church. Ask God in prayer how he is calling you to be an example of the love of Jesus in their life.

Don’t miss a day of LivingItOut. The LIO will be moving in February. Sign up for our new platform by texting LIO to 419-419-0707 and choosing to get your LIO by text or email.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 17 Focus – To Express my Faith in God’s Ability (Jeremiah 32:17)

Dear God, nothing is too hard for you! Through your great power, all things are possible. All authority is yours, all might is yours, and I know that your victory will be complete. You are amazing, and I worship you. I glorify you for your power and presence in my life. You are my God, and you are worthy of all praise. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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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LOVE! – For the Win!

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Have you ever loved or wanted something so badly that it became an obsession? Perhaps a new household gadget, a shiny new grill, or that beautiful new car in the showroom window? Or perhaps for you, it was that special someone you saw that you thought could be “the one”?

If you are like me, when you become obsessed with something, you put all your energy—your heart, soul, mind, and strength—into obtaining it. How many of us have worked overtime to obtain the money to buy that gadget, grill, or new car? Who has dedicated their heart, soul, mind, and strength into getting that special someone to notice you?

While there is nothing wrong with putting forth such effort to achieve the things we want in life, it can be a problem if we channel that energy in an unhealthy way, putting the obsession before everything else in our lives. Here is a challenge I present to you today:

What if we took that enthusiastic energy and love and applied it to what Jesus said is the greatest commandment?

Mark 12:28-30
28 One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’”

There it is—the challenge set before all of us by the wisest man ever to walk this earth. Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

For me, the key word here is LOVE. If we truly love as Jesus did, it will be with all we have to give. What would it feel like to really embrace this commandment and execute it “for the win”? Jesus set the example for us as the one and only true winner who ever lived. He executed this commandment to perfection along with the second and equally important commandment that you will read about tomorrow.

For now, I will leave you with this thought. If you have ever poured out everything to obtain a worldy item, did you truly feel fulfilled when you received it? I promise you, giving your all to follow the teachings of Jesus will leave you fulfilled.

LOVE for the win!

Questions:
How strong is your love relationship with God?

Do you feel like you are giving your first, best, and all to him?

Next Steps:
Choose one of the Gospels to read—Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. (CedarCreek’s John Reading Plan is a great place to start.) As you read, make note of how Jesus set the ultimate love example for us.

Truly examine how much effort you put into loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Don’t miss a day of LivingItOut. The LIO will be moving in February. Sign up for our new platform by texting LIO to 419-419-0707 and choosing to get your LIO by text or email.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 16 Focus – To Come Close to God (James 4:8)

31 “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.’” 32 The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher

Day 16 Focus – To Come Close to God (James 4:8)

Dear God, you have promised if I draw near to you, you will draw near to me. I need more of your strength and presence today. I am drawing near to you through prayer, worship, and your Word. I open my heart to you and ask you to be near to me, growing me to be more like you. Amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer


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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Gift of Grace – For the Win!

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When I retired as school secretary, I had to train my replacement. While teaching the person who took my place to run the machines and do the reports and follow all the protocols, we had an opportunity to talk about the students. Sometimes we don’t know their whole story.

Sometimes a student who is consistently late to school isn’t irresponsible. It may be their job to look after younger siblings until a parent gets home from their night shift. That may also be the reason their homework isn’t complete and they can’t stay awake in class. I imagine there were times when I was the only grace kids received during the school day.

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.

The grace I receive from God isn’t what I deserve; it’s a gift. A gift I want to share with others. Have you ever invited someone to church, and their reaction went something like: “Oh, no! I’m sure the walls would shake and the ceiling would collapse if I ever darkened the doorway of a church!” There are people who believe their sins are so terrible that God could never love them. But this is part of the gift: he does!

We learned about the “good person” in the weekend message. Those are the people who say things like, “I don’t tell lies, or steal, or cheat, and I haven’t killed anyone, so I’m confident God is happy with my life.” They tell stories about helping the poor and elderly or neighbors. They boast of contributions to their community. They think all their good will save them. It won’t, but still, you’ve gotta love them. No, seriously!

Mark 12:29-31
29 Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. 30 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

We will hear more about the commandment, the conduct, and the commission this week. Don’t miss opportunities to join God in the work he is doing in the hearts of people around you.

The Bottom Line: Winning with others is why we are still here.

Questions:
Have you ever passed judgment on someone before hearing the whole story? Has anyone ever passed judgment on you? How did that make you feel?

Next Steps:
Continue to read the LivingItOut each day this week and write down one take-away from it. Ask questions and dive deeper into the whole story. Start looking for your top  five people.

Don’t miss a day of LivingItOut. The LIO will be moving in February. Sign up for our new platform by texting LIO to 419-419-0707 and choosing to get your LIO by text or email.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 15 Focus – To Declare my Dependence on Him (Psalm 121:1-2)

Dear Lord, when things become difficult, I know you walk beside me. You will cross the desert with me and weather any storm with me. When things become unbearable, I know you will carry me to the other side. Today, I declare my dependence on you. You give me my strength and are the only one who can truly replenish my weary soul. Amen

Today’s Parent Prayer


This post was written by Julie Estep, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut, who is grateful for the opportunity to reflect, write, and share what God is doing in her life. She’s glad you came today!


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


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John Reading Plan


He is Worthy – For the Win

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This past week, we have been diving into the story of Abraham, focusing on his near sacrifice of Isaac. If I am honest, I still shrink away from that story. As a child, I was aghast that God could even ask Abraham to do such a thing. I knew it worked out in the end, but it seemed so barbaric. Now, as a mother, I see this from a different perspective. What was Sarah thinking when the small group set off early that morning? I shudder to think of the dread she felt as she watched her son being led away to his execution.

There was another mother who watched her Son walk to his execution. What emotions must she have felt as she watched his tattered body being paraded through the streets like a vile criminal?

Just as Abraham led his son up the mountain, there was also another Father who led his Son to his execution. A Father who knew that the only way to reconcile the people he loved to himself was through the death of his beloved Son.

Just as Isaac willingly followed his father up to the mountain, so this Son willingly followed his Father up the hill. Isaac was bound, this Son was nailed.  Isaac was saved by a ram, this Son became the lamb.

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.”

The story of Abraham is a powerful example of stewardship, but it points to a far greater story. It is the story that is woven through the entirety of Scripture. It is the story that points forward to Jesus, God’s beloved Son, given for us. Through this story, we see what real love is. We see what great lengths God went through for us. We see that no matter what, he is worthy of our trust. We can trust him because he did not shrink from the cross. It is through this sacrifice that we find freedom, peace, and hope. Without Jesus, our lives have no purpose.

But just as Abraham and Isaac’s story did not end on that mountain, the cross was just the beginning. I can only imagine the joy on Sarah’s face as she beheld her beloved son, returning alive. Go with me to that other mother, Mary, on that first Easter Sunday morning, when she realized that her Son, Jesus, had conquered death and provided a way for all people to receive eternal life through him!

John 3:17 (ESV)
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Questions:
Which character in our story can you identify with the most? Think about the trust each one had to have to continue on their journey. Do you have their faith? Do you trust God the way they did?

Next Steps:
Listen to “His Heart Beats” by Andrew Peterson. Think about how amazing it is that we have a risen Savior that put death to death.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 12 Prayer Focus – To Live in Fearlessly (1 John 4:18-19)

Dear God, thank you for being a God of perfect love. Thank you for loving me first—before I accepted your salvation, before I even knew you, while I was still living in sin. Teach me to love as you love, without fear or condemnation. Help me to offer grace to those around me, just as you first offered grace to me, Amen.

Parent Prayer


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


Day 13 Prayer Focus –  To be like Christ in my Relationships (Philippians 2:3-4)
Dear Lord, please help me be like you in all of my relationships with others. Please help me humble myself and think of the needs of others before my own. Teach me to see how I can serve those around me. Please show me the places in my life where I can make others feel like they matter and let them know that they are not alone. Amen.

Parent Prayer

 

Day 14 Prayer Focus –  To Worship Him (John 4:23)
Dear Father, I worship you with all my heart and soul. I want to sing your praises from early in the morning, when the sun rises, until late at night, when the day has passed. I am so grateful to be allowed to be your child as your love fills my heart again today. Amen.

Parent Prayer


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.


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It’s a Gift, I Don’t Own It – For the Win

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We are in the second week of the series, For the Win. When I considered what a day-to-day win looks like for me, it took me a moment. After much contemplation, I came up with my answer—making people laugh. I feel such joy when I can make someone laugh. Occasionally, after I’ve said something extremely funny and we’re all laughing, I like to add … “It’s a gift, I don’t own it.”

Matthew 25:29
To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing even what little they have will be taken away.

“It’s a gift, I don’t own it” is what Ben’s message was all about. The bottom line was: winning within starts with stewardship. Stewardship sees all our gifts as blessings from God. It is a grateful attitude and a deep desire to use God’s gifts in ways that honor him. It means putting our trust in God, obeying him, living open-handedly, and sharing our gifts with others.

The opposite viewpoint is ownership, in which the “owner” believes “It’s mine, and I can do whatever I want with it.” It is having a stingy and closed-fisted attitude, not wanting to share our gifts with others.

If we want to live in God’s peace, love, and joy, we must live a life of stewardship. We must trust God first to provide for us. We must put all of our blessings, fears, and worries in his hands. We must not withhold anything from him.

The way we use our time, talents, and treasures indicates whether we are living a life of stewardship. Let’s look at ways to be good stewards:

TIME: Focusing on what God wants us to do with our time. Trusting and obeying him and using our time to bless others.

TALENT: Using our gifts and experiences to fulfill God’s purpose. Realizing that God has given us unique personalities and spiritual gifts to help others and choosing to use our gifts to make a difference in other people’s lives.

TREASURE: Surrendering what is most important to us to God and trusting him with it. Proper stewardship is based on a belief that God will provide for us, that he blesses us so that we can bless others. It’s the principle of firstfruits or tithing—giving God ten percent of our treasure.

Living the life of a steward is so different from the culture we live in. Our culture is focused on keeping up with the Joneses or making it to the top. Many people forget what is really important; instead, they live a life focused on themselves. This leaves a big hole in their hearts and results in never being satisfied. They want more and more.

But when we choose to follow Jesus, we change. We find joy, contentment, and peace by living a life of stewardship. We are so grateful for what he has done for us that we want to share his love with others. We start to trust him and want to surrender everything to him.

We are so grateful for God’s blessings that we use them to help others and honor God.

Proverbs 3:9-10
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Questions:
How are you using your time, talents and treasure? What are you trying to control? What do you need to surrender to Jesus?

Next Steps:
Use your time, talent and treasure to help someone. Attend GrowthTrack. Join a Group.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 11 Prayer Focus – To Live in Freedom (Galatians 5:1)

Thank you, God, for freeing me! You have freed me from sin and from shame. You have freed me from the law and from striving to earn salvation. You have freed me from death itself! For all those things and more, I praise you. Help me to live as someone who is free. Don’t let me fall back into the posture of a slave, to fall back into serving the things that used to control me. May you be the only one I serve, for you bought my freedom and loyalty at a high price on the cross. In gratitude I ask, may your will be done in my life. Amen.

Parent Prayer


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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It’s My Life!? – For the Win

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When I think about ownership and stewardship, they fall in the same category, for me at least. Hear me out—I know the difference between owning something and taking care of what’s not mine, but when it comes to my life, it’s not mine. It belongs to the Lord. Everything I own can be reduced to just mere possessions that I have gained by living the life I have been given. As we gain more in life, with it comes more responsibility, and we should steward it accordingly.

Luke 12:42
And the Lord replied, “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them.”

I was watching 1923—it’s funny! Elsa Dutton said something that completely goes hand-in-hand with Abraham’s story: There are only three answers to a prayer: ‘Yes,’ ‘Not yet,’ and ‘I have something else in mind for you.’

I find it amazing the way God speaks to us.

Many times I have prayed, “Please, let me have this,” or “I want that,” but I think God was trying to teach me how to steward my own life by replying “Not yet,” or, “I have something else for you.” Every time I tried to take the outcome into my own hands, I failed. When I stop and pray to God, “This isn’t my life I’m living, it’s yours. Guide me with what you would have done,” I don’t get what I want. I end up either being completely surprised by what comes into my life, or I realize what I wanted to happen was never meant for me.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

I like the way Lead Pastor Ben Snyder put it into perspective,

  • OWNERship—It’s mine!
  • STEWARDship—It’s God’s.
  • I-DON’T-GIVE-A-ship—Who Cares!?

Living open-handedly and not idolizing either a possession or what we think is ours is stewardship. When we realize that everything we do points to God, it changes how we do life. When we mess up, we will likely be judged by others, and in turn that judgment can be aimed at all Christians (even when we own up to the mistake ourselves). On the other hand, we can make better choices with the gifts we have been given and lead others by example.

Leading by example—what a great way to steward the life we’ve been given and also praise the most loving owner I know, God.

Questions:
Which of the three “ships” are you living out: ownership, stewardship, or I-don’t-give-a-ship? Have you ever prayed for something, and God said “Not yet,” or “I have something else in mind”?

Next Steps:
Take some time to thank God for all he’s given you to take care of. Invite someone to church with you so they can learn to be in it to win it.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 10 Prayer Focus – To Connect with God Relationally (Romans 8:15)
Father, I come to you in prayer today thankful that I am your child. You have forgiven me and adopted me as your own. You have made me righteous and restored our relationship. I am so grateful that you are my Father. Thank you for loving me. I love you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Parent Prayer


This post was written by Casey Stengel. Casey is a follower of Christ, a dad, and an avid Chicago sports fan. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He works in recovery and loves to help people however he can. He is also working toward his Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Revealed Faith – For the Win

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Sometimes God will put you in a difficult position—not to test your faith but to reveal it.

In the middle of a game, you might have to make a move that’s not recommended, but if you don’t take the risk, there’s no chance of victory. I played the game Risk for the first time over New Year’s. The goal of the game is to strategically take over the world. In the middle of the game, I made an ally. But then another player forced my ally to betray me and take me out so that someone would gain victory. While betrayal is part of this board game (and not something I would have recommended), this risk led to victory. In the same way, sometimes we need to take a risk with God for victory in life.

This is the experience Abraham had with his son Isaac. God told him to take the risk and sacrifice the very son God promised to him on the altar. This is not something that Abraham would have chosen, but he trusted that God would somehow provide. Abraham knew God and trusted him first, so he was able to tell his son that God would provide.

Genesis 22:8
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered. And they both walked on together.

When they got to the mountain, there was no animal to sacrifice. In obedience, Abraham began to prepare for the sacrifice of his son.

God intervened.

He told Abraham not to continue, because Isaac was not meant to be the sacrifice. At that moment, there was a ram stuck in the thickets. God provided the sacrifice, revealing the faith that Abraham had in God.

Genesis 22:13-14
13 Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in a thicket. So he took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering in place of his son. 14 Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the Lord will provide”). To this day, people still use that name as a proverb: “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

We gain victory in God by knowing who he is. Significant moments in the Bible were marked by giving them names to recognize the win in God. It is why Abraham named the place, Yahweh-Yireh (Jehovah Jireh is another way of saying it). It means the Lord will provide. Abraham won with God by trusting in who he is.

Abraham’s faith brought out the greatest victory, because if he had faltered, the story of the Bible might have been told differently as Jesus is a descendant of Isaac (Matthew 1:1-16). That moment of trust on Abraham’s part birthed a nation that would eventually lead to the Messiah, the real sacrificial son. God knew what he was doing at that moment to reveal Abraham’s faith.

Abraham was confident in God’s name, Jehovah Jireh—the Lord provides, and he won.

God knows what he is doing in your life today to reveal your faith. Like Abraham, it is important to remember God’s name to claim victory.

Questions:
Do you know God by name?

What is one area of your life in which you are winning?

Is there a choice God is calling you to make even if you don’t prefer it?

Next Steps:
Mark a moment of victory by naming it. Write it down or make a post on social media.

Here are some names of God with the Hebrew translation. Choose one that resonates with you and use it in a prayer thanking God for his goodness.

  • Father: Abba
  • The Beginning and End: Alpha and Omega
  • The Ancient of Days: Attiyq Youm
  • The Anointed One: Christos
  • The God Who Gave You Birth: El Chuwl
  • The God of Knowledge: El Deah
  • The God Most High: El Elyon
  • The Everlasting God: El Olam

Think of one step you can take even if it wouldn’t have been your first choice.

  • Tithe
  • Serve
  • Ask God to reveal your faith

21 Days of Prayer

Day 9 Prayer Focus – To Live Confidently (1 John 4:16-17)
Father in heaven, thank you for loving me. I know I can trust you with all I am. I am confident in the salvation you have given me. Help me to abide in you, to become more like your Son every day. Show me how to live like him, according to your will, and working for your kingdom in all I do. May my love for you and others be perfected through your love for me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Parent Prayer


This post was written by Becca Roberts, a regular 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.


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“Worked Hard All My Life…” – For the Win

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I don’t know about you, but once I decided to do things God’s way instead of mine, it started feeling like work instead of winning! At my age, I’d just as soon drift along the dwindling streams of my life with the least amount of work and stress I can manage. After all, I’m retired!

“Worked hard all my life, no help from my friends! O Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?”  I’m still channeling Janis Joplin!

What else can God expect of me? Well, then I stumble across Abraham, who began his adventure with God when he was 3 years older than I am right now. I think I would be pretty grumpy if God told me to leave my country and my family with the promise that at some point in the distant future, my descendants would become a great nation. From a human perspective, that’s a big ask with a very uncertain pay-off.

Genesis 12:1-3
1 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. 3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”

Abraham trusted that God wanted him to win, to be victorious. So Abraham went. I think we can agree that Abraham accomplished all that God had for him. He did indeed become the father of many nations, and through Jesus Christ, a blessing to them all.

This wasn’t an easy journey. There were many trials and challenges along the way. Abraham didn’t always get it right. But he trusted (for the most part) that God could and would do what he said he would do. Finally, God entrusted Abraham with the son he promised, a boy who would begin the legacy. God gave Isaac to him and Sarah well past the time when they would have physically been able to bear children. (I’m afraid I would have been grumpy about that too!) He was obviously a gift God gave them to steward because they had tried for years to get it done themselves without success.

And just when it seemed like all was going according to plan, God made another big ask:

Genesis 22:2
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.”

I imagine Abraham is thinking: “Wait! What? This is the kid I’m supposed to build my nation with, to be a blessing, etc! How can that happen if he’s dead?”

But by now, maybe after 40+ years of following God, Abraham knew that what God gives is only on loan to us. We are to steward the gift and be willing to let it go if God asks. I read this passage, and I wonder if I would have been able to match Abraham’s unquestioning obedience with my children. But Abraham trusted God and came to know him in a new way: Jehovah Jireh—the God who provides—when an alternate sacrifice was provided in Isaac’s place.

In the trials and sacrifices that come from choosing to obey God, the pay-off is always greater than it would have been had we tried to accomplish things on our own. All we have has been given to us by our gracious and loving Father, our Jehovah Jireh. The gifts he provides are ours to steward, to care for with an open hand, should he require them of us.

God wants us to win, to be victorious. We have a choice: will we try to hold on to his gifts, or are we willing to be stewards of all he has provided to further his work? And if we trust in him, we are ready to win within. It’s pretty amazing that he has decided to use us to accomplish his plan for planet Earth!

I want to make the most of all he has given me for all the time he has planned for me. My win will come from being a good steward!

The Bottom Line:  Winning within starts with stewardship.

Questions:
What gifts have you received from God? How are you stewarding them for kingdom use? Does doing things God’s way seem hard to you?

Next Steps:
In your journal, make a list of gifts you have received from God. Offer them back to him in prayer with thanksgiving, and wait to see how he tells you to use them. Share this list and your plans with your group or trusted friend and ask them to hold you accountable.

21 Days of Prayer

Day 8 Prayer Focus – To Know my Calling (1 Peter 2:9)
Dear Father, as a follower of Jesus, you have given me the right to be your child. You have set me apart and called me one of your chosen people. I can now show others your goodness and be a light to them

Parent Prayer


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.


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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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan