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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John Reading Plan


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.


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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John Reading Plan


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.


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?

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More Resources

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John Reading Plan


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

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?

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John Reading Plan


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.


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
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan