The Eternal Kingdom – Get Me Outta Here!

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Throughout Israel lie ancient ruins made from layers of rocks. Some stones are huge, some are small—but by placing one atop another, the ancient Jews built structures that still stand today.

Until I went to Israel, I did not understand the spiritual significance of rocks. It’s just a piece of earth that sits there. It seems useless, right? But when I saw the endless stone structures, I realized how lasting a rock is. A rock is eternal, and it’s a beautiful metaphor for God’s kingdom.

In Daniel 2, King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed of nations rising and falling. In the world today, we can also relate to that uncertainty of authority. It might be a manager who is treating you unfairly, our current political and social divide, or the uncertainty of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. But God’s kingdom is eternal. It will never be overpowered by the world or conquered.

Daniel 2:44-45
44 “During the reigns of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed or conquered. It will crush all these kingdoms into nothingness, and it will stand forever. 45 That is the meaning of the rock cut from the mountain, though not by human hands, that crushed to pieces the statue of iron, bronze, clay, silver, and gold. The great God was showing the king what will happen in the future. The dream is true, and its meaning is certain.”

As a follower of Christ, we have the promise of an eternal kingdom. I think we sometimes forget, neglect, ignore, or deny the impact of what Jesus did for us when he died on the cross. His death allows us to spend eternity with him, and he invites us to participate in the building of his kingdom.

Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald had a goal to inspire people to follow Jesus, not just go to church on Sunday but to participate in the eternal kingdom every day of their lives. When you experience real faith in Jesus, he gives you radical hope. This hope is not swayed by the uncertainty of authority. It changes your identity and gives you the boldness to participate in the eternal kingdom.

Matthew 16:18

Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

God revealed to Simeon Peter that Jesus is the Messiah. He was called hearer, but then Jesus changed his name to Peter, meaning “a mass of rock detached from the living rock.”

When Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the rock cut from the mountain represents God building his eternal kingdom. Similarly, Peter is the rock cut from Jesus. This new identity, a real faith, gave him radical hope and led him to follow Jesus, no matter the cost. God used Peter to build the church.

I want to remind you that no matter the uncertainty in the world today, God’s kingdom is eternal. I want to invite you to follow Jesus and to participate in this eternal kingdom.

Questions:
Will you follow Jesus? If you do, how are you participating in his eternal kingdom?

What uncertain authority is impacting you?

What are you doing to experience the real faith that gives radical hope despite the uncertainty?

How does knowing God’s kingdom is eternal give you hope?

Next Steps:
Meditate on the promises of God as the eternal rock:

Isaiah 26:4

Psalm 78:35

2 Samuel 22:32

Share your radical hope with someone as you participate in the Hope it Helps campaign, being a light to others

Pray for the uncertain authorities that are impacting you.

Prayer:
Jesus, there are uncertain authorities in the world today, but your kingdom is eternal. I pray for these uncertain authorities, that in your name, Jesus, there would be a way through. You died and resurrected so that I can participate in your eternal kingdom. I pray for the boldness to follow you, to have real faith that gives radical hope. Despite the uncertainty, I know my identity belongs to you. Like Peter, I have been called to participate in your kingdom. I am called to build the church by sharing the radical hope that comes from you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


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Growing Hope – Get Me Outta Here

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As we journey along with Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald in Daniel 2, Scripture demonstrates the amazing way God shows up in the life of Daniel the prophet. The bold responses Daniel gives throughout Chapter 2 point to this week’s bottom line: “Real faith produces radical hope.”

Not only did Daniel possess radical hope, he demonstrated it. To be clear, radical hope is not something we pray for and it miraculously appears in our inboxes. Radical hope is the result of real faith. Daniel’s ability to respond boldly was proportionate to his spiritual depth. Without it, he would have been foolhardy to respond as he did.

There are countless stories that parallel Daniel’s—not make-believe stories. Real. Life. Stories. There’s one portion of Daniel’s story that we would all do well to imitate—“Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion” (Daniel 2:14).

Despite living and working in an ungodly culture filled with pagan beliefs, Daniel maintained an authentic, thriving faith. It is no small challenge to remain dedicated to your belief in God when many godless objects and activities scream for attention. However, with real faith, it is possible.

One of Daniel’s greatest attributes was that he gave credit where credit was due—to God, his God.

Daniel 2:27-30
27 Daniel replied, “There are no wise men, enchanters, magicians, or fortune-tellers who can reveal the king’s secret. 28 But there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets, and he has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in the future. Now I will tell you your dream and the visions you saw as you lay on your bed.

29 While Your Majesty was sleeping, you dreamed about coming events. He who reveals secrets has shown you what is going to happen. 30 And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart.”

When we, like Daniel, choose to have real faith in God and regularly participate in spiritual disciplines, “wisdom and discretion” will similarly become our response to daily challenges on this side of Heaven. We, too, can demonstrate radical hope.

Questions:
How are faith and hope different? How are they similar? Do you need a faith boost?

What spiritual disciplines do you regularly exercise? What spiritual disciplines would be beneficial to start practicing?

Next Steps:
Spend 15 minutes each day reading the Bible to know God better and deepen your faith.

Check out the following to help increase your understanding of faith and get a faith boost:

https://www.gotquestions.org/definition-of-faith.html

https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/14-bible-characters-who-wrestled-with-their-faith-and-won.html

Prayer:
Heavenly father, I want nothing more than to trust you and your ways. Reveal my habits, thoughts, and motives that need a deep cleaning. Expose the roots of wrong thought patterns and attitudes. There are days doubt seeps in, or faith seeps out when I let my guard down. It is the desire of my heart to stop the seepage. I want to honor you always—in all I say and all I do. Thank you for loving me as I am. Thank you for loving me too much to leave me in my present condition. May you be glorified through my life. 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.


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Thriving – Get Me Outta Here!

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Many of us have experienced “Get me outta here!” feelings over the last few years. It has been a really rough time. In our current series, we have turned to the Book of Daniel for inspiration.

I love that Daniel gives us hope for not just surviving but thriving during tough times. Daniel was a man of great wisdom, hope, faith, and humility.

Last weekend, Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald spoke on Daniel 2. In it, King Nebuchadnezzer had a terrible dream. He demanded that his wise men tell him what his dream was about and interpret it, or they would be killed. They told the king his request was impossible, so the execution order went out.

When the king’s guard came to kill the wise men, Daniel handled the situation with wisdom and discretion. He went to see the king to ask for some additional time to meet the king’s demands.

Daniel went home, and he and his friends prayed for God to show them mercy by revealing the king’s dream and its meaning to them. That night, God sent Daniel a vision. Overjoyed, Daniel praised God.

Daniel 2:19-23
19 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,

“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power. 21 He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. 22 He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light. 23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength. You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

I love that Daniel’s first response was to praise God. Daniel was so attuned to God that his focus was on the Lord rather than saving his own life. I probably would have been more focused on saving myself than praising God. I would have jumped out of bed and ran to tell the king first.

Daniel’s humility blows me away. It was all about God—Daniel took no credit. He gave all the glory to God, and his gratitude poured out as praise.

Daniel 2:20
Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power.

Daniel teaches us that God is faithful, with us always, and we can trust him. When we focus on the Lord instead of this world’s distractions, we can be joyful, hopeful, and peaceful even during tough times.

Questions:
What are you struggling with? How do you deal with your struggles?

How has Daniel’s story inspired you? What are you grateful for?

Next Steps:
When struggling, pray first. Join a Group. Have others pray for you. Write down three things you are grateful for every day, and thank God.

Prayer:
God, I praise you for being so faithful and loving. I trust you. Help me to keep my focus on you at all times and not on this world. Fill me with your peace, hope, love, and joy. Help my faith be like Daniel’s. 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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Get Radical! – Get Me Outta Here!

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What is radical hope? The dictionary defines radical as, “relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something, far reaching or thorough.” Based on this definition, radical hope would be to hope for something that goes far beyond what would be a normal, basic, fundamental expectation in any given situation. In other words, hope for a miracle.

In this second weekend of the Get Me Outta Here! series, Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald told the story of Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. What I want to focus on today is Daniel’s reaction to the situation he found himself in.

First, Daniel wasn’t facing death through any wrongdoing of his own. The predicament arose from the king making an impossible request and his court of sorcerers, magicians, enchanters, and astrologers failing to fulfill it.

Daniel 2:12-13
The king was furious when he heard this, and he ordered that all the wise men of Babylon be executed. And because of the king’s decree men were sent to find and kill Daniel and his friends.

Now, I have actually had a dream where everyone, except for my family and a few close friends, were out to kill me because they falsely believed I had done something terribly wrong. In my dream, my first instinct was to run, to hide, to find a place where no one could touch me—a true “Get Me Out Of Here” moment. But what does Daniel do? First, he goes to the very man who has just sentenced him to death and boldly asks for more time. The Bible shares what he did afterward.

Daniel 2:17-18
Then Daniel went home and told his friends Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah what had happened. He urged them to ask the God of heaven to show them his mercy by telling them the secret, so they would not be executed along with the other wise men of Babylon.

Just imagine, Daniel was virtually asking for the impossible to be possible. He had real faith that God would provide the answer, and God did. Daniel’s real faith produced a radical hope.

What would it be like if we showed that kind of faith today? Jesus is waiting. He wants you to have real faith in him, because we can trust him with radical hope. So, I urge you today to strengthen your faith and become radical.

Questions:
Where is your faith today? Is it real faith that can produce a radical hope?

Do you have the type of faith that believes Jesus can do the impossible in your life?

Next Steps:
Read Daniel 2, which is a great example of faith for all of us.

Join a Group, and surround yourself with a solid community of Christian friends to share and develop a real faith to produce radical hope.

Prayer:
Loving Father, thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercy. Help me to imitate the example of Daniel and have real faith that can produce a radical hope in my life. I trust in you and believe that you can make the impossible possible. Help me to exemplify the type of hope that leads others to want to know more about 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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Loved, Not Forsaken – Get Me Outta Here!

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Daniel 10:19
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!”

Have you ever had a terrifying dream? Once I dreamt I was in an elevator, and every time I pushed the up-button, it would go down … to Hell, where a big gorilla was waiting for me to step out! Yikes! Talk about a Get Me Outta Here moment!

Over the weekend, Oregon Campus Pastor Andy Rectenwald walked us through a real life and death moment from Daniel 2. King Nebuchadnezzar, recent conqueror of Jerusalem and everyone else who got in his way, had such a bad dream he commanded all of his astrologers, sorcerers, enchanters, and magicians to tell him what he had dreamt and then interpret it. If they weren’t able, he threatened to kill them and all the wise men.

Of course, nobody could tell him his dream, so he commanded the execution of all the wise men of Babylon—including Daniel, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego.

This is a seemingly fatal situation—unless you possess a mighty faith in the One True God. So, instead of screaming, “Get me outta here!” Daniel and his friends prayed to God for the answer and then praised him. When Daniel relayed God’s message to King Nebuchadnezzar, the king was astonished. He acknowledged that Daniel’s God was indeed the most powerful and should be worshiped and praised by all.

As we make our way through the Book of Daniel, you’ll be amazed at all of Daniel and his friends’ other miraculous encounters. Despite their many close calls, one thing is unchanging—they never lose faith in God.

Everyone has “Get Me Outta Here!” moments. On our own, they can feel impossible to handle. But for all who accept God’s gift of salvation, we can live with radical hope for and trust in this promise: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28).

Regardless of how bad these moments are, when you place your faith in God’s deep love for you, the saving power of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within you, you can find hope and purpose in every situation.

Remember what the apostle Paul wrote:

Romans 8:31-37
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? 33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

Like Daniel, we too can find peace in our GMOOH moments because when we have real faith that nothing can separate us from Christ’s love, that produces radical hope.

Questions:
Have you ever thought God has allowed you to suffer trials to grow your faith?

When trials come your way, what is your first response? Do you react out of fear or out of radical faith?

Next Steps:
If you have never made the choice to follow Jesus, step into a relationship with him by praying: “Heavenly Father, today I place my faith in you and trust in the work Jesus accomplished on the cross of defeating sin and death.  This paved the way for my forgiveness and a new life. I want to follow you as my Lord and Savior.”  Then connect with us, as we’d love to celebrate with you and help you begin your adventure with Jesus.

If you are a follower of Christ, consider the areas of your life you are not surrendering to Jesus and trusting he is good. Confess them, and put God first in all things.

Share God’s love with others through your acts of kindness. Check out CedarCreek’s Hope It Helps campaign.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I am so sorry for so frequently going off on my own. I am sorry for ever thinking any good comes from me without you. Please, Lord, I am weak, and you are strong—give me the faith to lean into you in all things and to seek only your way in every situation. Help me to trust that your hand is in every scary and painful circumstance and that you will use it for good. Help me to remember my time here is short, and soon, I will spend the rest of eternity with you, praising you forever.  In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


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


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