Where is Your Focus? – Get Me Outta Here!

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Dr. Calvin Sweeney wrapped up the Get Me Outta Here! series last weekend. Calvin’s bottom line was, “Hope grows when we trust God’s promises for tomorrow.” Today we will focus on the truth that God will bring me through.

No matter what you are struggling with today, you can trust God. He promised that he would help you, and he will be right beside you, holding your hand.

Psalm 37:23-24
23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they stumble, they will never fall. For the Lord holds them by the hand.

My heart leaps for joy and hope when I realize that the God of the universe delights in every detail of our lives. He is right beside us, preventing us from falling.

As we’ve traveled through the book of Daniel, we’ve witnessed his incredible faith. Daniel didn’t focus on all the injustice around him or how unfair his life was. All of his hope was in God. He was able to thrive in Babylon because he trusted God to help him through his struggles, and we see how God continually showed up during the difficult times Daniel faced. He was never alone.

I have found that reflecting on the ways God has helped me increases my faith, gratitude, and hope. A couple years ago, I began keeping a gratitude journal. Each day, I write down three things I am grateful for. At the beginning of 2021, I looked back over my blessings for each day during the previous year. Even though 2020 was an extremely difficult year for almost everyone, I was amazed by how faithful and good God had been to me. I was overwhelmed with gratitude because, in retrospect, it was a much better year than I remembered.

1 Peter 1:6
So truly be glad there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure trials for a little while.

It was very easy to see that my hope, trust, and faith all depended on where I focused. When I focused on my blessings, I was able to find joy—regardless of my circumstances. But when I focused on all the negatives, I was overwhelmed and depressed.

My exercise in gratitude has been invaluable. Moving forward, I will do all that I can to shift my focus to God, trusting him to fill me with his peace, joy, and hope. What will you focus on?

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all peace and joy as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:
What or whom do you put your hope in? What have you learned from studying the book of Daniel? What will you focus on?

Next Steps:
Meditate on the Scripture verses above and on this truth: God will bring me through. Write down three things you are grateful for each day.

Share your hope and joy with someone else by participating in the Hope it Helps Campaign.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am overwhelmed and so grateful that you love me so much. I choose today and every day to put my focus on you. I will trust you when I struggle. I am so blessed that my Lord and Savior delights in every detail of my life. Fill me with your peace, hope, and joy. Let your love flow through me to others. Help my life bring you glory. 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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God’s Plans for Here and Beyond – Get Me Outta Here!

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When we stop listening to God’s whispers, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the unknown. This can cloud our understanding of who we are and who we belong to. We have to be careful not to allow the ideas of others or voices of criticism (including our own) distract us from the truth that God has a plan and a purpose for each of us.

In Dr. Calvin Sweeney’s weekend message, he told us the Bible assures us that our hope will grow if we trust God’s promises for tomorrow. But how do we remain full of faith and hope when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring? Or when we encounter pain, loneliness, disaster, and anything else that clouds our vision of God’s plans for our lives?

Have you ever wondered if, maybe, we need the hardships that life offers? In 2018, while battling colon cancer, actor Chadwick Boseman delivered a speech at Howard University in which he said, “Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”

1 Peter 1: 6-7
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The unknown gets even harder to navigate when more people are added to the equation. I had many reasons for not wanting to move to Ohio in 2018. I wondered how I would use my degree when most of my job opportunities were in California, New York, D.C., and Canada. I would’ve taken factory work or anything else if it was only a job, but I was moving toward my passion and purpose.

I waited, listened, prayed, and ignored the skeptics while trusting that my wife and three small children wouldn’t suffer. Three long years passed and I never asked how much longer it would take before opportunity would meet preparation. I maintained my faith, and I can honestly say, now, that I am exactly where I was meant to be.

You must have faith in God’s plans and promises for your life—here and beyond.

Questions:
How do you stay focused on the good when you’re surrounded by the bad? Have you discovered God’s plans for your life physically and eternally?

Next Steps:
Talk to God and listen for his response by praying, reading your Bible, and connecting with your faith outside of a weekend service. Watch Whisper on RightNow Media for ways to hear God speak to you.

Attend GrowthTrack to discover the purpose God has for you.

Prayer:
Dear God, let me follow the design you have for my life. Forgive me when I lack the patience to wait on the blessings you have for me and my family. I want to experience the journey to your promises with everyone you have placed in my life. I pray that those who don’t have hope for today and tomorrow can find the truth you have already delivered. Amen.


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


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Run to the Eternal Prize – Get Me Outta Here!

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I felt the sun burning my skin as one foot after the other hit the ground.

In eighth grade, I thought running was something I wanted to do, so I attended cross country practice at the beginning of the season—once. After experiencing my lungs burning in the summer heat, I wanted out! It felt like death in a microwave. What I thought would be a way to connect with my friends turned into a reality I did NOT want to get stuck in. Burning lungs and sore legs just weren’t worth it.

I think this is a lot like life. With all the decisions we need to navigate in the world, sometimes it’s hard to know if it’s worth it. Is it worth showing up another day at work? Is it worth pursuing that friendship? Is it worth being single? Is it worth making that decision you have been avoiding?

As I struggled with my decision to quit cross country, I wondered what God wanted for me in that season. What I have come to realize is that I was expecting (presuming something would happen)—I had an unrealistic expectation that I would be fast on the first lap. I was not being expectant (anticipating receiving something). I completely ignored all the hard work and training that I needed to become a better runner.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Luckily for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior, there is a race we can all win. We can live with certainty and hope—with an expectation that God is at work in every situation in our lives and that he will work everything out for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

That is today’s promise: God knows what is best for you.

1 Peter 1:3
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation…

God has your best interest at heart. In having hope for tomorrow, be expectant of the work God wants to do in you or through you—even if at times it seems challenging or difficult. Jesus, himself, prayed for his cup of suffering to be taken away but, ultimately, asked for God’s will to be done (Mark 14:32-36). God knew what was best for Jesus in that moment, and he knows what’s best for you.

As a middle-schooler, I allowed my expectations to get in the way of receiving what God wanted to teach me and missed a moment to trust that God knows what’s best for me. (Ironically, I eventually learned I actually do love running!)

Questions:
Do you have confident hope that God will work things out?

Do you doubt the promise that God knows what is best for you? Why?

How can you curb your expectations so that you’re open to receive what God is trying to teach you, especially when you’re in a situation that doesn’t seem worth it?

How does God’s promise that he wants what’s best for you give you hope for tomorrow?

Next Steps:
Take the personal step God has been calling you to, but you have been avoiding.

Write down the promise for today, and put it somewhere you frequent as a reminder that God’s got this!

Prayer:
God, you have my best interest at heart, even when it doesn’t seem worth it. Today, I trust in this promise that you know what is best for me. I pray I will be expectant of the work you are doing instead of expecting it to turn out a certain way. I pray for boldness for the step I think might not be worth it so I can have hope for tomorrow. I look toward your best and trust you with the outcome. Amen.


This post was written by Becca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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God Loves You – Get Me Outta Here!

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In times of despair and trouble, we all need hope—we need to see a light at the end of the tunnel. We need the hope that a better tomorrow is possible.

Often in difficult moments, we buy into lies—lies about who we are, who God is, and what he thinks of us. In these times, we need to focus on truth, which not only helps us combat the lies but also gives us the hope we need.

Today, we’re going to focus on this truth: God loves you.

This is a truth that all of us should embrace. But don’t just take my word for it. Look at what Jesus’ friend, the apostle John has to say:

John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:9-10
9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

1 John 4:16
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.

These are just a few of the many verses that highlight the important truth that God loves us. But how does this truth give us hope?

If God loves you so much that he gave up everything to have a relationship with you, then you can be assured that at all times he will provide for and take care of you. He may not provide in the way you want, or at the time you think is best, but he does promise he will be with you always (Matthew  28:20, Romans 8:38-39).

God’s love for us gives us hope for tomorrow. As we embrace that truth, we begin to trust him more, even in difficult times. And when we trust that God is good and he is on our side, we can have a confident hope that no matter what tomorrow brings, and no matter how difficult life gets, he will be with us and help us through it.

Questions:
How does knowing God loves you give you hope for tomorrow?

Who do you need to remind of God’s love today?

Next Steps:
Look up verses on God’s love to remind yourself how much he loves you.

Share one of the verses you find with a friend or family member who could use a reminder of God’s love.

Prayer:
God, thank you for loving me so much that you gave up everything for a relationship with me. Help me remember this truth and embrace it each day. Help me show your love to others. Amen.


This post was written by David Hammack, Jr., a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Eternal Hope – Get Me Outta Here!

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If I asked you to name everything wrong in the world, I’m guessing it wouldn’t take long for you to make a laundry list. Poverty, disease, broken families, mental illness, war … it feels like the list could continue forever. Andrew Peterson captures this feeling in his song “Is He Worthy?”

Do you feel the world is broken? (We do)
Do you feel the shadows deepen? (We do)
Do you know that all the dark won’t stop
The light from getting through? (We do)
Do you wish that you could see it, all made new? (We do)

We look at our own lives or the headlines and wonder when the pain, heartbreak, and exhaustion will end. When we’re living lives of “quiet desperation” as Henry David Thoreau put it, we keep waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel. We want something that tells us the struggle is almost over. And when we don’t see that glimmer, we begin wondering if it will ever come.

This past weekend, Dr. Calvin Sweeney finished the Get Me Outta Here! series by looking at a vision Daniel received as an old man. Torn from his culture at a young age and forced to serve the mercurial king oppressing his people, Daniel is old friends with hardship. And then, near the end of his life, he hears more suffering is ahead for the people of Israel.

But there’s more.

While the angel describes adversity in the future, he also reminds Daniel of the big picture. Evil won’t last forever, and God’s kingdom prevails. There. Is. Hope.

This same promise is repeated in the New Testament by Peter, the “Apostle of Hope.”

1 Peter 1:3-5
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

Even though we might “feel the world is broken,” it won’t stay this way.

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

You might be facing circumstances you can’t change and trials with no end in sight, but by focusing on the big picture, you can still have hope. There is nothing in this world that can undo God’s faithful promises, and he offers us unshakeable, eternal hope.

Questions:
What struggles are you facing right now? Do you turn to God’s promises for hope? Do you focus on the big picture of God’s plan, or just what you can see in the moment?

Next Steps:
On note cards, write down three verses that remind you of the eternal hope you have in Christ. Place them in strategic spots where you can see them throughout the day.

Participate in the Hope It Helps campaign, and share hope with others.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, sometimes I get caught up in the challenges I’m facing and the brokenness of the world. Please remind me of the hope I have in Jesus. This world is temporary, and you will make everything new, taking away all tears, pain, and death. Thank you for those beautiful promises. When I am tempted to despair, help me keep my eyes on you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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


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Another In The Fire – Get Me Outta Here!

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One of my recent favorite worship songs is, “There is Another in the Fire” by Hillsong United. The first stanza and chorus of the song go like this:

There’s a grace when the heart is under fire
Another way, when the walls are closing in
And when I look at the space in between
Where I used to be and this reckoning
I know I will never be alone

(Chorus)

There was another in the fire
Standing next to me
There was another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
Of how I’ve been set free
There is a cross that bears the burden
Where another died for me
There is another in the fire

You should listen to the whole song—it’s really powerful!

When I think of the faith of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I feel like a spiritual wimp! Celebrating my 32nd spiritual birthday February 16th, I wonder how I would respond if placed in similar circumstances. I believe, should that happen, the assurances from Jesus in Luke 12:11-12 would be true for me:

“And when you are brought to trial in the synagogues and before rulers and authorities, don’t worry about how to defend yourself or what to say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what needs to be said.”

I want to think that my witness of perseverance under trials and stress would, just like these young men demonstrated, draw people to Jesus. I want to present another way of dealing with the challenges of our time. These thoughts give me pause to intercede for our Christian brothers and sisters in Ukraine and Russia, for all the leaders to seek peace and pursue it. The love of Jesus changed that part of the world before, and we must pray that it happens again!

Jesus told us that we would experience all of this. In John 16:33 he said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Take heart, Jesus says. In other words, have hope—faith-filled hope. The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 5:5, “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

As Pastor Ben said this weekend, faith-filled hope moves us from an “if only” to an “even if”.

The YouTube version linked above features an ending not found in the original lyrics. It goes:

Even if he doesn’t
I will praise him
Even if he doesn’t
I will stand tall
Even if he doesn’t
I’m not bowing to this world
Even if he doesn’t
I ain’t changing my confession

That’s the faith I want to present to the world. I pray that through the power of the Holy Spirit I will have this faith, even if….

Questions:
How are your faith muscles holding up? What spiritual exercises might you engage in to strengthen your confidence in the power of Jesus to hold you, even if…?

Are you spending daily time reading God’s Word and praying? If not, why not? How can you begin?

Next Steps:
One of the most important things you can do as a Christian is to find fellow Christ followers, 2 or 3 people who will walk with you through your life as a believer. They will love you enough to encourage and strengthen you, and call you out when you drift in the wrong direction. And you will do the same for them. Join a Group to help you find these people.

Most importantly, become the hands and feet of Christ in your world. One way to do this is through the Hope It Helps campaign.

Take 15 minutes each day to read God’s word and pray.

Prayer:
My Jesus, thank you for never leaving or forsaking me! I trust that and know it to be true, even if (fill in the blank). Every time I seek you and your will, you will use every circumstance I find myself in to teach me more about your love for me! I know you will always stand in the fire next to me! Prince of Peace, shower your grace, peace, and mercy on our world.


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.


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Trust Without Hesitation – Get Me Outta Here!

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Have you ever had your identity stolen? It’s not fun. It becomes difficult to trust people, especially when the theft is personal. It happened to me about 24 years ago. Sharing it now is easy because I’ve moved past it, and if I hadn’t, well, 24 years is a long time to hold a grudge.

The actions weren’t enough to do any permanent damage, but it was enough to embarrass, shame, and build up rage in a young man.  The person at fault admitted their guilt and tried to do what they could from a distance, but they weren’t willing to make it right in person. I found myself alone and angry and needing to figure out how to get my good name back.

Even with a notarized document of truth on my side, it was hard to escape the fire of my identity theft experience.

Daniel 3:23
So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego couldn’t escape the fire either, but God didn’t abandon them. In fact, he was right there with them. He also used it as an opportunity to reveal himself to Nebuchadnezzar.

Daniel 3:25
“Look!” Nebuchadnezzar shouted. “I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god!”  

Honestly, I didn’t necessarily choose to trust God as well as I could have at that time, but he made sure I wasn’t trapped. Eventually, through God’s faithful love, I was in a place where I could forgive. God grew me through the process, even though it wasn’t enjoyable at the time. I had to walk through the flames, but God used the challenge to develop my faith, and I can now share my experiences to help others see God’s faithfulness.

Now, I am able to enter those heated, “Get Me Outta Here!” situations trusting God no matter what. My faith has developed from “if only“ to an even if”. Sometimes we have to walk through the flames, but God can use that to not only refine our faith, but be a witness to others.

Questions:
Do you have a personal story of trusting God no matter what? What went wrong when you decided not to trust God?

Next Steps:
Continue reading the Book of Daniel and explore other books in the Bible to see examples of God being there when people trusted in him. Share those stories with others.

Participate in the Hope It Helps campaign. It’s a great way to share the love of Jesus and open the door for conversation.

Prayer:
God, you are always here to ease our troubled minds. Thank you for loving us through our pain and our triumphs equally. Let those we forgive see what it does to our hearts so they may forgive as well. May we all be willing to love as we are loved. Amen.


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


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Even If, We Can Trust God – Get Me Outta Here!

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Have you ever been stuck in a situation where a peer, friend, or mentor makes a negative comment about something you care about? From the small topics, like a sports team or favorite musician, to the large ones, like your children or ostracized people, we all have things that are important to us. Things we want to be willing to fight for. Yet it is so easy for us to think, “If only someone else would say something; if only someone else would stand up for this.”

In the Book of Daniel, there is a story of three men who bravely stood up for their faith in God. When Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah—better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—were ordered to worship a giant statue, they refused. King Nebuchadnezzar personally threatened to toss them into a burning furnace, offering them a final opportunity to obey.

Daniel 3:16-18 (emphasis added)
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. 17 If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”

They didn’t whimper among themselves, crying “If only God would save us, then we could continue to worship him!” No, they bravely and respectfully told the king that even if God didn’t rescue them, they would still place their trust in him.

Almost six hundred years later, after Jesus returned to Heaven, many of the letters written about Jesus and the faith encouraged the young church to stand firm. Experiencing dangers not unlike the troubles Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced, the young church was being persecuted by the Roman leaders. Peter, one of the original disciples, wrote to them, “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats” (1 Peter 3:14, emphasis added).

He didn’t say, “if only we didn’t have to suffer, then we could trust God,” but “even if we suffer, we can trust God.” The same is true for us. We can place our faith and hope in God, even if.

Questions:
Is there anything you need to take a stand for today? How can you take a risk and do the right thing? Where can you turn your thoughts from “if only” to “even if”?

Next Steps:
Find a way to stand up for what you believe in, whether it is big or small. Respectfully explain the way you see something. Read verses like 1 Corinthians 15:58 and Philippians 4:1 about standing firm in the Lord.

Prayer:
Father, you are good and honorable and loving. Help me stand firm in all that you are. Please, let me have the courage to do what is right, with respect and love for everyone around me. I trust you, no matter what. Amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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“Even If,” Not “If Only” – Get Me Outta Here!

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I have traveled down life’s well-trodden path for over 68 years now, and as I look back and reflect on days gone by, it amazes me how far I have come, especially in my spiritual growth. For most of my life (minus my few rebellious years), I have considered myself a reasonably strong Christian man. But over the last four years, since I started attending CedarCreek Church, I see that I still have room to grow. Looking back, I have realized that, even though I believed in God and was trying my best to follow him, most of the time I was still trying to control life’s situations on my own.

If you are anything like me, you have found yourself in situations where you wished you had more control. I can remember times I thought or said things like, “If only I could get that promotion I want,” or “If only I had that new pickup truck I have been wanting.” The big one for me: “If only I could make life slow down for a moment, so I can catch my breath.” Yes, my past has been filled with “If only” moments and, at times, so is my present. “If only I could do more for my kids,” or “If only I could retire.”

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder continued the “Get Me Outta Here” series this past weekend by discussing the “if only”. He used the story in the Book of Daniel involving King Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

Daniel 3:13-15
13 Then Nebuchadnezzar flew into a rage and ordered that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego be brought before him. When they were brought in, 14 Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you refuse to serve my gods or to worship the gold statue I have set up? 15 I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue I have made when you hear the sound of the musical instruments. But if you refuse, you will be thrown immediately into the blazing furnace. And then what god will be able to rescue you from my power?”

Daniel 3:19-23
19 Nebuchadnezzar was so furious with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that his face became distorted with rage. He commanded that the furnace be heated seven times hotter than usual. 20 Then he ordered some of the strongest men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and throw them into the blazing furnace. 21 So they tied them up and threw them into the furnace, fully dressed in their pants, turbans, robes, and other garments. 22 And because the king, in his anger, had demanded such a hot fire in the furnace, the flames killed the soldiers as they threw the three men in. 23 So Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, securely tied, fell into the roaring flames.

King Nebuchadnezzar was trying to exercise his power and control all the people in his kingdom. So, when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused his command, he may have been thinking “If only I can make these men obey me, everyone will see how powerful I am.”

Pastor Ben explained that when we enter into situations thinking “if only,” then we are not putting our faith in God and relinquishing control to him, and our hope is fragile. “If only” very rarely produces positive results. Continue reading tomorrow to learn more about moving from an “if only” to an “even if” type of faith.

Questions:
How often do you find yourself saying “if only”?

Do you struggle to relinquish control during “Get Me Outta Here” situations? If so, why do you think that is?

Next Steps:
Continue exploring the Book of Daniel for some inspiring examples of faith and hope.

The next time you find yourself in a “Get Me Outta Here” moment, pray, and relinquish control to God.

Offer hope to others! Participate in our Hope It Helps campaign.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, so many times when I find myself in pressure-filled situations, I try to take control myself. Help me to do away with the “if only” mindset and put my faith in you. Give me the strength to avoid what produces fragile hope and always turn my eyes to you. Amen!


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


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Fragile or Faith-Filled? – Get Me Outta Here!

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This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder spoke about hope in the face of fear. Stepping into Daniel 3, the dilemma of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is revealed. Things literally began to heat up around them—talk about a “get me outta here” moment!

The stage is set in Daniel 3:1-6:

“King Nebuchadnezzar made a gold statue ninety feet tall and nine feet wide and set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then he sent messages to the high officers, officials, governors, advisers, treasurers, judges, magistrates, and all the provincial officials to come to the dedication of the statue he had set up. 3 So all these officials came and stood before the statue King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then a herald shouted out, ‘People of all races and nations and languages, listen to the king’s command! 5 When you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes, and other musical instruments, bow to the ground to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue. 6 Anyone who refuses to obey will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.’”

King Nebuchadnezzar made perfectly clear the consequences for anyone who disobeyed his decree. Imagine the king’s rage when some of his astrologers told him that the administrators over the province of Babylon paid no attention to the decree. The astrologers even reminded the king that the decree stated those refusing to obey must be thrown into a blazing furnace.

Maybe you’ve been in a position similar to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s (well, probably without the literal fiery inferno). Many can relate to experiencing outward manipulation, as demonstrated here by the enraged king. These are the very situations God has possibly allowed for our good—not our harm—and for his glory!

This week’s bottom line, “Faith-filled hope moves from ‘if only’ to ‘even if’”, can easily be merged with last week’s bottom line: “Real faith produces radical hope.” It is radical, faith-filled hope that makes it possible to step firmly into an “even if” way of thinking.

As we travel through Daniel 3 together, make an effort to personalize this week’s message. Take the role of one of Daniel’s friends; then, you decide. Is your faith fragile—the faith that says, “if only … ”? Or, do you possess faith-filled hope—the faith that says, “even if … ”?

Questions:
Who have you bowed to out of fear and intimidation? Do you possess the emotional fortitude to take a stand, and remain standing, especially when that stand represents the minority, the few, or the unpopular truth? Do you need to develop and exercise spiritual disciplines to increase your knowledge of God?

Next Steps:
Identify where fear and intimidation show up within you. Develop the spiritual strength of taking a stand for the righteousness of God. Join a Group or have accountability with a fellow Christ-follower who is further down the path in their spiritual growth.

Spend 15 minutes each day reading Scripture and praying to get to know God better.

Choose to embrace/grow into an “even if” faith as portrayed via the lyrics of MercyMe here.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you have brought me far in my spiritual development. Thank you for the patience you have extended to me. I want to know you deeply—your character. It is not about what you can give me materially. There is no greater joy than having the assurance of an “even if” faith that will not be shaken at the slightest breeze of uncertainty or discomfort. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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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