Rejoice in Everything- Advent 2022

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Come, thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set thy people free;
From our fears and sins release us;
Let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth thou art;
Dear desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart. 

Born thy people to deliver,
Born a child, and yet a King,
Born to reign in us forever.

The words of this beloved hymn, “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” written by Charles Wesley, are ones of rejoicing. This advent season, I have been diving into this hymn in my Bible study, and it has truly gotten me so excited. Excited to once again celebrate the first coming of Christ and rejoicing in the soon return of our great King, Jesus.  

If you are feeling like your current situation is going to swallow you up and there is no life line to reach for, take heart because Jesus reigns. Christmas is a time to remember that God tells us to rejoice in the good times, and the not-so-good times. We rejoice as we remember that while we were still sinners, God sent his Son to us as a baby to save us all. He didn’t put restrictions on this exchange but extends it freely to all who believe.  

1 Chronicles 16:31
Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Tell all the nations, “The Lord reigns!” 

Regardless of  our circumstances, we can choose to unwrap the gift of rejoicing in the promises that are ours in Jesus.

Questions:
What are you worried about as Christmas approaches?

What are you excited for?

Do you find it hard or easy to rejoice this time of year?

Next Steps:
Play “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and journal about what the words mean to you.

Spend some time making a list of the things you are thankful for in your life.  

Prayer:
I thank you, Lord, for this magical season during which I get to once again remember all that you have done. Please open my heart to see the hope you have set before me. Open my eyes to those who are in need around me, and help me take action. Thank you for the grace and mercy you extend to me every second of my day. Amen.

Parent resources:
Read Luke 2:21 together as a family. Jesus’ name means “The Lord is salvation!” Spend some time praying as a family thanking God for giving us Jesus, the best gift of all!


This post was written by April Willer, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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The Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Advent 2022

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Here we are—three days before Christmas! Are you finding it to be the Most Wonderful Time  of the Year

I have wonderful memories of Christmas as a child and adolescent. My family of five sang together in one of the best choirs in the Toledo area. We had a skilled, adventurous choir director, paid lead vocalists, and we were often accompanied by members of the Toledo orchestra. We always had a wide variety of Christmas music to learn and perform, up to the grand finale on Christmas Eve at 11 PM. It was so much fun, and the music was very special! We always sang “Silent Night” at the close of the service, and our lead soprano floated a beautiful harmony that came from high above the candle-lit sanctuary.  It really was, in my memory, the most wonderful time of the year.

I know that not everyone has such precious memories of Christmas. In fact, my own children might say their memories aren’t quite so great. My mostly intact family broke apart when I was in my early 20s, which led to lots of chaos. We still made an attempt to gather together for the holidays, but our time had lost its wonder. As hard as I tried (and sadly, sometimes I didn’t try very hard), I struggled to find that wonder again.

So how did I  get it back? Through Jesus! 

After trying to make myself happy for 20 years, I finally returned to Jesus. Taking the focus off of me, I returned to celebrate our God, who is with us.

Matthew 1:23
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel,  which means ‘God is with us.’”

This is such wonderful news! God loved us enough to send his Word, his Son, Jesus to save us. He chose to communicate with us through Jesus so that we could, perhaps, comprehend the depth of his enduring love for us! The names of Jesus found in Scripture give us so many things to celebrate about him!

Isaiah 9:6
For a child is born to us,    a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace! And praise be to God, the government will rest on his shoulders!!! These names and promises are for us as believers! And so we should be gloriously thankful for Jesus, the most wonderful gift ever!

2 Corinthians 9:15
Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

It is my prayer for you this Christmas season that you take the time in all the busyness and rush that consumes our energy to contemplate the wonder of this gift. I pray that you take time to praise and thank God for all he has given you. And in that space, I pray you open your heart in worship and joy for our wonderful, amazing, generous God.

Questions:
Has the wonder of Christmas been lost for you? Or perhaps you never had it. What can you do to get it (back)? What can you celebrate this Christmas, regardless of your circumstances?

Next Steps:
With family or friends, or by yourself, light a candle and listen to some classic Christmas music. Make space to wonder about God’s greatest gift, maybe thinking about what it means to be a Wonderful Counselor, a Mighty God, an Everlasting Father, a Prince of Peace. Share those thoughts with someone or write them in your journal. 

Prayer:   
Good and generous God, we are so grateful for the wonderful gift of Jesus! Especially at this time of year, we pray for a deeper understanding of the love that came down for us long ago. We celebrate the birth of our Savior and we desire to make space in our hearts for him. We pray, “Precious Savior, Love divine. Dwell within this heart of mine. Tear down every idol throne. Reign supreme and reign alone.” Let our lives reflect the glory of your coming, so that others are drawn to you this Christmas season. Amen.

Parent resource:     
Read Luke 2:20 together as a family. What’s the biggest thing you want to thank God for right now (In addition to Jesus!) Share with each other and give God a giant round of applause.


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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Christmas Delight- Advent 2022

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The other day, I caught myself talking about what I don’t like about Christmas, but then I turned around and mentioned the seasonal things that delight me. I’m not easy to shop for, but I enjoy giving gifts to others. Caroling? I can do without that, but my Christmas playlist is ready to go after Thanksgiving … as long as I hear “In My Mind” first. Our youngest daughter, Joss, pleaded with me for a Christmas tree last year, so I put away our Christmas ladder and got a tree instead. See, I’m not a complete Scrooge. 

Many experience dismay, disgust, and discouragement throughout much of the year, but December is when even the most “Eeyore” among us can find our inner “Pooh.” What is it about Christmas that moves us to (at least attempt to) be better and make others happy? Because it’s also the time of year when being alone is more draining than ever. Perhaps the true meaning of Christmas is built into each of us without our realizing it, so the highs and lows are amplified.  

Psalm 18:19

He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me.

The above verse is about God rescuing David and bringing him to safety. God purposely chose David and was delighted that he lived righteously, even after his failures. 

It’s a blessing that we all have an opportunity to live out Psalm 18:19. Celebrating Christmas reminds us that God gave us Jesus to bring us to safety, despite our attempts to ignore and even openly reject his gift. God did this because he delights in all of his children, and like David, that alone should give us the strength to live life as God intended. Christmas is that end-of-the-year reminder.

Questions:
What brings you delight? Is it a lasting feeling, or do you crave something more?

Next Steps:
Think about someone who tends to spend Christmas alone, and invite them to one of the Christmas Eve services or to Christmas dinner. 

Prayer: 

Dear God, this is the time of year when, so long ago, your love for us delivered a new beginning. I am loved because you chose to love me. I cannot comprehend how much delight you have for me, your child. Help me to regularly and lovingly pay it forward without expecting anything in return from others. Amen.   

Parent resource:
Read Luke 2:17-19 together as a family. Share your favorite Christmas movies with each other. Then pick one (or two!), make some popcorn, and settle down in Christmas PJ’s for a Christmas movie marathon.


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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The Gift of Worship – Advent 2022

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What first pops into your mind when you hear the word “worship”? 

I often hear that praising God through song—the worship part of service—is the favorite part for many who attend church. Worship connects our hearts not only to God but also to our fellow Jesus followers. There is something special about gathering with the church and humbling ourselves before the Lord, thanking him for his unfailing love and incomparable grace.

As we learned in the message during the second week of our Gift of Words series, singing is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible. But worship is not limited to song. Ultimately, it’s a heart posture that acknowledges God’s glory.  

Psalm 95:6 states it this way, “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God.” He is worthy of our full allegiance and devotion. Worship is our utmost acknowledgement of God’s rightful place over us as our Sovereign. 

Worship can and should be an active part of our daily lives. There are many ways we can give our praises and thanks to God in all aspects of our lives—through music and the arts, meditating on his word, reading and studying the Bible, spending time outdoors in his creation, praying, and using our gifts in service to others no matter how humble they may seem. Worship is about remembering God’s characteristics and attributes; it is about being in awe of the power, mercy, and grace of our King. 

Ultimately, worship is about keeping God the center of our lives.

Advent is a time when we anticipate and celebrate the greatest blessing of all time—the birth of Jesus, our Savior, the one who would fulfill God’s promises to save his people from their sins. (Something no person is able to do for themself.) We not only worship God for his character and sovereignty but also for the fulfillment of long-awaited promises. 

Isaiah 25:1
O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.

I can only imagine how Mary felt when the angel Gabriel told her that God chose her, a humble servant girl, to be the mother of Jesus Christ. She could have reacted with anxiety or worry, but her immediate reaction was to praise and worship God! Her soul and her entire being praised the Lord for his character and his unfailing grace.

Luke 1:46-49
46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48 For he took notice of his lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One is holy, and he has done great things for me.

This Christmas, let us remember to worship God for all that he has done! We were created to worship him—a God so good that he sacrificed his one and only Son and dwelled among us on earth. A God who loves us so much that he took our sins upon himself to save us from spending eternity separated from him. 

All glory be to God in the highest!

Questions:
What is your favorite way to worship God?

How can you incorporate worship into your daily life?

Next Steps:
Attend a Christmas service. Invite a friend to worship God with you!

This week, set apart time to intentionally worship God for all he has done.

Attend GrowthTrack and discover the gifts God has given you so that you may serve him in his kingdom now.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for all that you have done in our lives and for all the blessings that you have given us. We give all our thanks and praise to you, and we worship you for your abundant love and care. Help us remember to take time to intentionally worship you and recenter our hearts upon you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Parent Resource:
Read Luke 2:15-16 together as a family. Grab a gingerbread man, or other Christmas cookie, for each member of the family to place on their forehead. Race to see who can shimmy the cookie down and bite it first before it drops. No hands!


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.


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I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy! – Advent 2022

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I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.
I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy lyrics by George William Cooke 

I remember singing that song when I was a kid in Sunday School. But back then, I didn’t know what real joy was. Around the same time, we were taught this acronym for J-O-Y: 

Jesus first, Yourself last … and Others in between.

I understood what it meant of course—put Jesus first in your life, loving other people should come next, and you should put yourself last. But, unfortunately,  I don’t remember experiencing any real joy as a kid trying to put it into practice.

So, what is real joy and how do we experience it? 

The biblical definition of joy is a feeling of good pleasure and happiness that is dependent on who Jesus is rather than on who we are or what is happening around us. “Joy comes from the Holy Spirit, abiding in God’s presence, and from hope in His word” (justdisciple.com). 

It seems to me that the Christmas season may be the best time of year to understand, experience, and share joy. After all, it is the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In fact, the very first message of his birth that night was about joy.

Luke 2:10-11
10 … “but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David.”

We could never know the level of joy those shepherds felt that holy night, and I imagine there was some confusion and shock at first. But once they saw the baby Jesus and realized he was the truth of prophecy coming to fruition right before their eyes, I can only believe they experienced unsurpassable joy.

And for us, thousands of years later, the truth still unfolds before our very eyes as we open our hearts to the teachings of Jesus and develop a personal relationship with him. As we lean into knowing him more, we begin to experience the true joy that only his love and grace can bring.

As we step into the Christmas season, remember that for some, it is not a time of joy due to painful past memories, heightened feelings of loneliness, or any number of other possible reasons. So, it is a perfect time to not only draw closer to Jesus yourself but also share his Good News and love with others. Then I believe you will truly be able to say, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart.”

Questions:
What level of joy are you feeling this Christmas season?

Next Steps:
Read the entire Christmas story found in Luke 2:1-20. Find ways you can spread joy to those around you this holiday season.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the greatest gift of all, your Son on that very first Christmas day. Help me to always remember the spirit of Christmas by spreading love and joy to those who may not be experiencing it for themselves. Thank you for the opportunity to draw closer to you and know the feeling of true joy. Amen.

Parent resource:
Read Luke 2:13-14 together as a family. Choose or make a special ornament for your Christmas tree that represents something good God has done for your family this year.


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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The Gift of Grace – Advent 2022

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“You need to give yourself grace.” 

… If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that, or something similar, I could afford some very nice gifts for my loved ones this year.

I don’t think there’s a harder gift for me to give myself than grace. Maybe you feel the same. Why can it be so hard for us to forgive ourselves when we feel we’ve messed up?

Personally, I struggle to offer myself grace because when I mess up, I want to make sure I learn from it. I constantly tell myself what I should have done differently or could have done better so that next time, maybe, I’ll get it just right. At the end of the day, it’s pride. I rake myself over the coals when I fall short—because part of me believes, if I really applied myself, I actually could do things perfectly.

I know how crazy that sounds written out. The moment I get that thought out of my head and actually see/hear it, I realize that kind of thinking doesn’t line up with reality. We all have lies that seem reasonable in our heads, but if we speak them aloud and share them with others, these thoughts often don’t hold up to scrutiny.

We all fail, fall short, and sin. It’s part of being human. Fortunately, God wasn’t content to leave us like that. Christmas marks the start of a story: God’s plan to make us all right with him through his Son.

Ephesians 1:7
He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

Grace is a gift we can give ourselves because God has already given it to us. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your Savior, that means the perfect creator of the world has already forgiven you of everything—past, present, and future. He offers us an abundant, limitless amount of grace, and we don’t have to do anything to earn it. We just have to accept it.

God has already forgiven you. He holds no mistakes against you. This Christmas season, amidst all the plans and stress and shopping, I hope you will take the time to accept the gift of grace that God is offering you, every moment of every day.

Ephesians 2:8-9
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

Questions:
Where can you offer yourself grace this Christmas season?

How can you give the gift of grace to those around you?

Next Steps:
The next time you find yourself struggling to show grace—to yourself or to others—pause, and remind yourself that no matter what mistake has been made, God has already forgiven it. There may still be consequences and next steps that can be taken, but when we offer grace to ourselves and those around us, we are able to take those steps and bear those consequences with mercy and compassion.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace you offer me. I know I could never have earned it; instead, you love me so much you sacrificed your Son so that I might experience your love and grace. Help me to receive your grace with humility, and to offer it compassionately to those around me. May your will be done in me and through me. Amen.

Parent resource:
Read Luke 2:10-12 together as a family. Make Christmas cards for anyone in your life who might need a little joy today, from the mailman to the crossing guard. You could even add a gift card or small treat.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Got Compassion? – Advent 2022

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The month of December presents various forms of traditions—including cultural and generational customs. For Christians, the season of advent has different parts. It is a time for communities of faith and families to embrace the true meaning of Jesus’ birth. For many, that is where faith in God takes its first step.

If not for God’s undeniable demonstration of compassion, possessing an undying hope would be impossible. It is, for me, a perpetual hope made possible through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It’s obvious to me that God gently led me to focus on the word compassion in this writing. Undoubtedly, it is the underlying reason writing this piece has been unlike any other challenge I have recently faced. To be honest, there is someone in my life who is in genuine need of compassion—God’s and mine. While God’s supply never experiences a shortage, the well I maintain is quite another story.

Please join me now as my rawest emotions, along with the untreated emotional and spiritual immaturity of my soul, are fully exposed in prayer. The personal challenges I face this month likely pale in significance to the challenges others face. Knowing that, however, does not decrease my emotional turmoil.

Remind me, again, Lord. Taking the high road is the God-honoring response where precious relationships seemingly have been kicked off the face of the earth.

Compassion.

Give me the courage and determination, Lord, to face the enemy of my soul and to extend genuine love, your love.

Compassion.

Empower me, Lord, to always remember, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). 

Compassion.

Lord, help me remember Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.” 

Compassion.

God, remind me regularly of the dilemma Joseph faced with his hateful, jealous brothers and his response to them: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.” May Joseph’s response become my default response, every time evil appears. 

Compassion.

God, thank you, for offering compassion to this (old) soul countless times. Help me cling to this verse: “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB).

God, you powerfully demonstrated your compassion by urging me to choose the word compassion to focus on in this writing. Thank you. This personal lesson has helped me—more than a little. It is my prayer that this exercise benefits others with similar struggles.

Questions:
Do you struggle with accepting compassion from others? Do you struggle with accepting compassion from God? Do you struggle with offering compassion to others?

Next Steps:
Increase your understanding of advent by reading “The Beautiful Meaning and Purpose of Advent.” Choose to offer compassion to others. Increase your understanding of God’s compassion by reading, “What are some Bible verses about compassion?” and “What does the Bible say about compassion?”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me get it right when it comes to compassion. Help me understand the “whys” when gaping holes exist in my capacity to offer compassion to others. Please continue to arrange circumstances that offer opportunities to step into life’s messiness, allowing all involved to be stretched and moved in God-honoring ways. Thank you for repeatedly demonstrating and offering compassion. Empower me to quickly recycle life’s hurts into sincere understanding and compassion for others. In the precious name of Jesus, amen.

Parent resource:
Read Luke 2:9 together as a family. What would you do if a brilliant angel from God appeared in your home? Share how you would react.


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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The Gift of Humility – Advent 2022

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Humility has always been a difficult word for me to define. Webster says it’s the “state of being humble, which is modest or meek in spirit; not proud or assertive.”

The Gospel of Luke tells the stories of when the Angel Gabriel delivered unimaginable birth announcements to the aging Zechariah and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s parents) and to the Virgin Mary. Zechariah asked Gabriel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years” (Luke 1:18). His doubts left him literally speechless until after baby John was born. Then he was filled with the Holy Spirit and given a prophecy.

Luke 1:76 & 79
76 “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. … 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”

Gabriel’s visit to Mary was to tell her she would be the mother of Jesus, the Son of the Most High. Confused and disturbed, she asked “But how can this happen?” (Luke 1:34). Unlike Zechariah, Mary did not doubt—she submitted herself to the Lord’s will.

Luke 1:38
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.

Mary was engaged to be married. Imagine the controversy her pregnancy would have caused. In those times, she could have been stoned to death!

Yet, how exciting for them to be noticed and blessed by God in such a manner! Even so, they didn’t brag about the special gifts they received from God. They gave God glory and spoke of his kindness, goodness, and mercy.  This is what God asks of us all.

Micah 6:8
No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. 

Christmas can be a hard time of year to be humble. Our budgets don’t always allow us to buy the expensive gifts we’d like to give. It’s also hard to accept gifts that can’t be equaled. “It’s the thought that counts” can be a hurtful expression. However, staying within a budget honors God more than overextending and going into debt. God has blessed each of us with our resources and the responsibility to steward them wisely. He has also given us a warning about coveting our neighbors’ blessings.

Let’s be reminded that Christmas is a celebration of the birth of our Savior, not a celebration of consumerism. I hope your Christmas is especially blessed because you have received the greatest gift of all—Jesus.

Questions:
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be visited by an angel? Would you find it hard to believe an angel promising a miracle to you? What is your most cherished Christmas gift?

Next Steps:
Read Luke 1-2. Ponder these chapters in your heart. Invite five people to come to a church service with you at CedarCreek, and be prepared to tell them why they should accept the invitation.

Prayer:
Father, you have given us a priceless gift in Jesus, your Son and our Savior. We did not earn this gift, nor do we deserve it, but we accept it!  Help us to keep our eyes, our ears, and especially our hearts focused on Jesus this Christmas season.  Give us the courage, the strength, and the opportunity to share our faith with others and invite them in. Thank you, Lord, for being the most precious gift that I can receive and give!  In Jesus’ name, amen.   

Parent resource:
Read Luke 2:8 together as a family. Roast marshmallows for s’mores while looking up at the stars – the same ones the shepherds saw! (Or make them in the oven and eat them by candlelight.)


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!


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A Loving Sacrifice – Advent 2022

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Sacrifice is something we are all familiar with and likely do on a regular basis in our day-to-day lives.  We’re all willing to give something up for what we love more—it’s in our nature.

Sometimes the sacrifice is noble. Other times it’s done from a more selfish angle. Either way, we make choices based on priorities, even though everything comes with a price. Have you ever sacrificed sleep to get more done? Or perhaps you worked more hours to increase your income so you could better care for your family.

That’s one I wrestle with. I tend to give my time away without even realizing that it can hurt people. When I give too much of my time to work, I feel good about being a loyal employee and helping others. But then I realize that extra time at work was at the expense of spending more time with my children.

Sacrifices aren’t unique to humans. Even God made sacrifices. Because of his love for us, he gave up his perfect son for us decidedly imperfect beings (John 3:16).  And Jesus willingly came to earth to die for our sins.

John 1:14
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

He left the perfection of heaven to offer us a way to be with him forever through his death on the cross. That’s a huge sacrifice! And if we only believe in him, we gain eternal life. What a gift!

So how do we respond?

Hebrews 13:16
And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

These good works don’t earn our salvation—only our faith in Christ’s resurrection does that. We are called to be more like Jesus, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. We can do that by demonstrating his love to others, and this Christmas season is the perfect time!

This can be a hard holiday for some people. There are those who don’t even have the funds they need for basic necessities. If you have extra, perhaps you can sacrifice a little to provide someone with much needed assistance and hope. Sacrifice isn’t only made through gifts or tangible items. Some will be spending their first holiday without a loved one. That always makes me want to try harder to bring them joy. What about you—are you willing to sacrifice a few minutes of your time to help someone?

We all need to remember that the greatest bringer of hope and joy is Jesus. So the best gift we can give this Christmas is to sacrifice a little of our time to help someone realize what Jesus has done for us. That gift has the potential to help so much more!

Questions:
What do you, or will you, sacrifice in order to follow and live more like Jesus?

Is Christmas a tough holiday for you? Have you talked to someone about it?

Next Steps:
Make time in your schedule to sacrifice for a good cause.

Attend GrowthTrack to find out how your skills and personality are best fit to serve at CedarCreek.

Prayer:
God, I am so thankful for the sacrifice you gave to me so that I can be with you forever. Show me how I can sacrifice the time that you give me to do good for others and, hopefully, turn their hearts to you. In all the sacrifices I make, I have my full faith in you, Lord. You have not failed me yet, and I know you won’t. I will do my best to do the same and help others follow your son Jesus. In his name, amen.

Parent Resource:
Read Luke 2:6-7 together as a family. Use a nativity set or stuffed animals to act out the Christmas story as a family member reads it.


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

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


Amazing Love – Advent 2022

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Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I am one of those people who listen to Christmas music and watch Hallmark Christmas movies before Thanksgiving. (My family makes fun of me for this.) I love spending time with my family and friends, and I treasure going to Christmas Eve service.

CedarCreek does an amazing job celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I am alway overjoyed as we sing Christmas carols and hear the message about God’s great love. I am filled with awe and wonder as I am reminded that love isn’t just a word or even a feeling—it’s an action.

God showed his great love for us by sending his one and only Son to Earth to rescue us from our sins. Jesus didn’t arrive as a rich or powerful king. No, he was born to a poor, engaged virgin in a dirty stable, wrapped in strips of cloth, and laid in an animal feed trough (Luke 2:1-6).

After Jesus’ birth, an angel of the Lord appeared first to shepherds in a nearby field. Shepherds! A group of people who would have been considered lowly and looked down upon. The angel told them the Savior—the Messiah—had been born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:8-16). The shepherds were the first to go and worship Jesus.

Jesus didn’t come just to love and save the rich, powerful, or perfect. He came to save us all. He loves us all—the sinners, the downtrodden, the suffering, and the lonely.

He came as a humble servant with a great purpose: to demonstrate God’s love—to be a model for us all on how to love people just as they are. In an act of love, Jesus willingly died on the cross for us. And three days later, he was resurrected so that all who believed in him would be saved.

John 3:16-17
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 everlasting life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”

Truly Good News! So during this Christmas season, let’s focus on God’s great love for us and the amazing gift of Jesus. Let’s strive to share his amazing love with others at Christmas and all year long.

Questions:
What is Christmas to you? How has Jesus shown his love to you? How can you spread Jesus’ love to others?

Next Steps:
Read Isaiah 9:6-7 which prophecies the birth of our Savior. Read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:18-25; Matthew 2; Luke 2:1-40). Meditate on the amazing example of God’s great love for us.

Make plans to attend a Christmas Service to celebrate his birth. Invite a friend who doesn’t know Christ to join you.

Prayer:
God, you are so amazing and I am overwhelmed by your great love for me. You sent your only son, Jesus, into this world to save me. The King of kings came down to this world as a humble servant. Thank you so much for Jesus and all he has done for me, is doing for me, and will do for me. Help his love flow through me to others. Help me share your great love with others this Christmas and at all times. Amen.

Parent Resource:
Read Luke 2: 1-5 together as a family. Parents, share about a particularly special or unique Christmas that you experienced as a child.


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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

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


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan