The Debt Is Paid – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the last week of our series, Letters in Red, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow spoke to us about getting in touch with our thirst for  what we really desire. In life, it’s not possible to fulfill yourself like you think you can. There is always something you miss—something more—more work, more food, more of that special drink, more indulgence … whatever that looks like for you. We think we want more, but we really don’t know what we want.

In John 4, we read that when Jesus met the woman at the well, he called her out. Jesus knows something that she doesn’t. She is attempting to find fulfillment through things that won’t bring her the lasting fulfillment she desires. As Josh put it, Jesus “suddenly and abruptly put this woman in touch with her thirst.”

Jesus’ goal wasn’t just to point out her error, though. He also gave her the solution to her needs. Jesus revealed to her that she was in need of living water. She thought she needed something to satisfy her physical thirst, not knowing that her soul was in need of the living water that would satisfy her for eternity.

As it is Good Friday, it is a time to really reflect on how Jesus can fulfill your life. He is the living water, the source of life that never runs dry. He is our unending joy, our Savior, the one who paid it all. It might just be the perfect time to realize that Jesus is suddenly and abruptly putting you in touch with your thirst. Jesus knew the extent of our thirst for living water when he died on the cross. He knew that without his drinking from the cup of suffering, we could never fully realize the fulfillment offered through him. Without his fulfillment of paying for our sins on the cross, our debt—our separation from God—would never have been repaired. We would miss the greatest fulfillment a person can have, and that is to know God.

John 19:28-30
28 Jesus knew his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus tasted it, he said “it is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

The book of John was originally written in Greek, and the words, “It is finished” is communicated with the greek word, tetelestai. Back in ancient times, tetelestai was written on transaction documents, indicating that the debt was paid. Jesus satisfied his thirst one last time, and so he spoke that final word: “Tetelestai!” The debt is paid; it is complete. Our debt, his payment. Our sins, his life. Our brokenness, his completion.

Without Jesus paying for our debt on the cross, we would miss out on what it really means to be free from sin. What it means to receive true, lasting fulfillment.

Questions:
What are things in your life that are not fulfilling?

Who can you invite to experience the fulfillment of Jesus?

What does it mean to you that Jesus is your Savior?

Next Steps:
Take some time today to reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross. Consider what Jesus went through in order to make a relationship with God possible.

This Sunday, we celebrate Jesus defeating death. Invite someone to join you at church this weekend.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the Living Water, the well that won’t run dry. You drank from the cup of suffering—you died on the cross, fulfilling the debt that needed to be paid so I could know you. Today, I pause to reflect on all you went through for me and say thanks. Thanks for loving me so much and for giving me grace I don’t deserve. Open my eyes to the opportunities I have to share you with others, and give me the courage to point people to you. This Easter weekend, use me to help others find you and the fulfilling life only you can offer. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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


Are You Talking to Me? – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Last week, we closed out our series, Letters in Red. Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow spoke on John 4, the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Today, April Fools’ Day, we are looking back to the beginning of the story. It’s no joke that we want to look at a few small facts that tell us a lot about Jesus.

Jesus’ ministry had just started, yet his popularity threatened the Pharisees’ authority, and his message challenged their teachings to the core. However, it wasn’t quite time to confront them openly, so Jesus left Jerusalem and traveled north toward Galilee.

John 4:4-7 
4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.”

Josh pointed out that the woman visited the well at noon, and it was hot at noon. No one went for water at noon! And you certainly didn’t get water by yourself! You went with your friends to socialize and stay safe. She went alone at noon anyway—to avoid meeting people who knew of her reputation. That Jesus said, “please give me a drink,” was shocking to her. (Maybe she thought it was April Fools’ Day!)

It was shocking, first, because she was both a woman and a Samaritan. In Jesus’ day, the Jewish people shunned the Samaritans, viewing them as a mixed race who practiced an impure, half-pagan religion. In addition, her reputation in the community wasn’t a good one. She had been married five times and was now living with someone who wasn’t her husband. And finally, it was a surprise that Jesus spoke to her at all in a public place. During that time, no respectable Jewish man would talk to a woman under such circumstances. But Jesus did.

Jesus loved her. It didn’t matter what society thought of her or what she thought of herself. Her circumstances didn’t matter. She mattered to God. Nothing she had done up to that point, or could do, would change that or exclude her from accepting the gift of living water that Jesus was offering.

You matter too. Jesus is offering you a gift. The gospel is for every person, regardless of race, social position, or past sins. Like the Samaritan woman, we must be willing to leave our buckets at the well and run to tell his message.

Questions:
Unlike April Fools’ Day, this is no joke—Jesus loves you! What are you waiting for? What is holding you back? Are you ready to tell the world The Good News?

Next Steps:
Know your next step so you’ll be ready to drop everything and run from the well—maybe it’s Baptism, attending GrowthTrack, joining a Group, checking out Celebrate Recovery, or asking the Prayer Team for prayer.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for loving me. I know that no matter what the world or myself thinks of me, YOU love me! Teach me, equip me, and help me go and tell the world your message. Help me understand it’s no joke! Jesus loves me, no matter what, and I matter! He IS talking to me! And, yes, he is talking to you too! Amen.


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law, and five grandsons.


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


What Are You Thirsting For? – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Last weekend, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow concluded our series Letters in Red by unpacking John 4. In this chapter, a Samaritan woman journeyed to Jacob’s well to get water to quench her physical thirst. After she encountered Jesus there, she left her water bucket at the well and hurried back to her village. She then proclaimed the gospel to the people who had rejected her.

What would make a woman who had been an outcast in her community return in such a public manner? Because she was a changed woman—she had experienced living water!

John 4:28-30
28 The woman left her water jar beside the well and ran back to the village, telling everyone, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” 30 So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

In Biblical times, the Jewish people believed that the Messiah would be able to tell the secrets in their hearts. It is sensible to think that the Samaritans, being half Jewish, felt the same way. The woman was so convincing that something life-altering had happened in her brief conversation with the man at the well, that they all wanted to see for themselves if he could be the Messiah. She told them to “come and see.” We need to be like the Samaritan woman and tell others to come and see what Christ has done in our lives.

The woman was looking to fill her bucket with something that could fulfill her. But when she found living water with Christ, she left her bucket behind. We are all looking for something to fulfill us. Josh demonstrated this point with many buckets. The “little more” bucket, the “clean up my life” bucket, the “bigger” bucket—which included a reference to Sir Mix-A-Lot (ha ha), the “minimalist” bucket, the “pleasure” bucket, the “KFC” bucket, and the “nicer” bucket. Jesus wants us to know that it is NOT about the bucket—it is about the well from which we are drawing. We need to leave our non-fulfilling buckets behind, stop seeking temporary solutions, and fill ourselves with Christ.

Isaiah 55:1
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free!”

God wants us to see beyond physical needs and earthly pleasures. There is NOTHING on Earth that will satisfy us as much as knowing and serving Christ and doing his will. He is what we need to fill our buckets and delight our souls. When we eat and drink at God’s table, we are truly satisfied.

Matthew 6:33
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”

The Samaritan woman left behind the very thing she went to the well to get. Some of us need to leave our buckets—whatever it is we’re chasing—behind too.

Questions:
What’s in the bucket that you need to leave behind? Shame, regret, perfection, desire for more, or pleasure?

The woman at the well told everyone about the Messiah. Do you have five individuals to whom you need to proclaim the good news about Christ? Who can you invite to next weekend’s Easter service?

Next Steps:
Watch “All Who Are Thirsty [Official Lyric Video] Vineyard Worship” featuring Brenton Brown. Listen to the words and accept the invitation to be fulfilled by Christ.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for sending Christ to fulfill me. Thank you for the living water you offer so I will never be thirsty. Minister to my heart so I may have a river of living water flow from it. Please, fill me with your loving spirit. Grant me wisdom so I may see the bucket I need to leave behind to be free. In your Son’s holy name, I pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


If I Only Knew – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As children, some of us grew up believing a skewed perception of what it means to be a follower of Christ. The little girl in me recalls believing Christ followers, regardless of age, were not to play cards, dance, go to movies, smoke, drink alcohol, or cuss. Those “worldly” activities would surely result in an eternity in Hell—something to be avoided at all costs (and understandably so). “Life,” as a Christ follower, was more about what you did not do than what you did. Now, I can honestly say, “If I only knew.”

The guilt of sneaking to see the first Beatles’ movie in 1964 is now laughable. I assure you, it was not laughable then. The burden of concern was heavy—what if Jesus were to return while I was at the movie? There was no question in my mind that I would have been destined to spend eternity in Hell. What a relief to walk out of the theater unscathed by the untimely return of Christ … well, untimely for me, the moviegoer!

If I only knew that having a personal relationship with Jesus is what following Christ is really about. If I only knew God is NOT a killjoy—out to stop any and every form of entertainment one might possibly enjoy. If I only knew he longed to have me bring every fear, doubt, and unsettled question to him. If I only knew he completely understood the emptiness in my heart and soul. If I only knew he alone could bring wholeness where brokenness took up residency.

Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow helped unpack this Biblical truth: “Since you can’t FULFILL your need to be FULFILLED, place your TRUST in the only one who can.” If I only knew some, if not many, of the pitfalls I took could have been avoided. An intentional look in the rearview mirror of life clearly shows God’s hand of protection in my life. He has not always stopped natural consequences from taking place in my life. He has, however, always been one prayer away—just waiting for me to come to the end of myself, choosing to seek him for much needed guidance in whatever dilemma I find myself. The same is true for you, if you only knew …

These truths are evident in John 4:10: “Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’ God excludes no sinner from this generous offer. In spite of our unworthiness, he offers it freely. If we only knew it is our choice to make.

Questions:
Have you accepted the gift of forgiveness available through Jesus Christ? If not, what keeps you from receiving this precious gift? What keeps you from embracing the truth of God’s word? What lies need to be deconstructed in your life? If you are a Christ follower, do you study his word daily?

Next Steps:
Examine yourself and identify the area(s) of your life that need repentance and his healing for your restoration. Pray God will send an accountability partner to walk with you on your spiritual journey.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, there are so many “If I only knew” reflections in my head and in my heart. Please forgive me for not seeking a deeper, more personal relationship with you earlier in my life. Guide me by the Holy Spirit as I intentionally saturate my mind with the truth of your word. Make me deeply uncomfortable when I stray from the path leading to you. I know your genuine love for me will bring correction to me. I want to be an example of your transformational power—so that you will receive all the glory. 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 over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.


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


What’s in Your Bucket? – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Most of us probably have an “If I only knew …” story. Maybe it was a relationship that you were sure would work out or a job opportunity that seemed exactly right or a school choice you were sure would teach you everything you needed to fulfill your career goals. Then you found yourself in a situation you never anticipated and was far removed from the outcome you had dreamed of.

How many of us have said, “If I just had _______, everything would be fine!!”? And once you got it, was it fine? Nope!

There’s always just one more thing needed to make everything perfect!  We all want to be fulfilled. We want to live a life of meaning. God actually created us to live that kind of life. How do we get it?

This weekend, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow asked us to consider something pretty profound: Maybe you don’t have the ability to fulfill yourself like you think you do. I don’t like that, do you? Josh said that the natural inclination of our hearts is to pursue things the world holds up as fulfilling—things I can acquire on my own. That pursuit gives me the impression that I’m in control, and I like that! But that idea, and the pursuit of it, leaves me empty every time. If only I knew …

Josh referenced a story found in John 4, which you may know as “the woman at the well.” This Samaritan woman had pursued the things in her world that should have brought her happiness and fulfillment. Yet when Jesus finds her, she is coming with her bucket in the heat of the day to a well outside her town to avoid being seen—because things didn’t turn out as she had hoped the first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth time. (Can you relate?)

In a shocking turn of events for that day and time, Jesus asks her for some water from her bucket. He then introduces himself as the source of living water. He reveals to her that she could never fulfill her own greatest need. That gift comes only from him. So, Jesus offers her the one thing that will fulfill her, and he offers it to us too!

John 4:10
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

It is not a bucket of money, a bucket of fame, a bucket of food, a bucket of regret, or a bucket of more! Rather, the source of our fulfillment is found in the one who created us to be his very own.

John 4:13-14
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

Jesus is the source of the only thing that will fulfill us. He says we will never thirst again once we truly experience all he has to give us. Instead, we ourselves will become a conduit of that same living water, a bubbling spring, blessing all those around us.

Questions :
What are you pursuing to fulfill yourself?

Is that which you are pursuing today the very thing you need to leave behind?

Next Steps:
Let Jesus fill your bucket with his living water. Be determined to trust in his ability, desiring his fulfillment. Ask him for a fresh filling of his Spirit, and let him be the focus of your desires.

Prayer:
Jesus, I want to trust that you have more for me than I could ever imagine! I put my hope in you to make my life meaningful as I follow you on this great adventure! Fill me again with your spirit so that I may be a source of light and refreshment to the people around me whom you love so much. Let me find my satisfaction in you and you alone. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Crushed in Spirit – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I fell in love, really in love, with Jesus when my father passed away in 2000. I cried out to Jesus for comfort and reassurance that my dad was safely in heaven with him. I asked him for a sign, and then turned to the only place I knew to look—the Bible. I just opened it. On the page was John 14:1-4 (NIV): Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

At that moment, I accepted God as my new Father. I began to live my life in a way that would please him. I attended church regularly. The pastor became a mentor and encouraged me greatly, and I made some great friends.

We started a contemporary worship service, and I started leading worship on alternate Sundays. We used a projector with transparencies and accompaniment CDs. I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life!

Then I started wanting more. Maybe I didn’t love Jesus the same way I did in the beginning. Maybe I began to deflect God’s unconditional love. My behavior outside of the church caused the leaders to ask me to step down from leading worship. I was crushed in spirit.

I was unable to get past that hurt for years. It separated me from the sunlight of the Spirit of God, as well as the fellowship of people who really loved and cared for me. I wasn’t able to make any lasting changes until I was willing to forgive and repent. I thought I wanted to be right, when I really just needed to be loved.

The thing is, we are all human, flawed beyond belief! Yet God loves us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his only Son on the cross for our sins. No, we are not perfect, but we worship a perfect God. God’s grace allows us to get back on when we fall off track. If I were perfect, I wouldn’t need that grace, and neither would you.

Questions:
Have you been hurt by someone close to you? Perhaps you were even hurt by the church? Have you asked God to help you find forgiveness?

Next Steps:
Look for hope in the Bible. Read Revelation 21:4; Psalm 34:18; Romans 12:19; Matthew 18:21-22; Matthew 11:28-30. Pray and ask God to reveal what it is he is saying to you.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, I would pray that no one would be closed off from your Spirit simply because they are unwilling. I pray that the willingness will come. I pray that each of us will let our light shine as Christians and not be paralyzed by our inadequacy, that we would be open to exchange ideas and understanding of the book you have so eloquently placed your word in. Help us to love one another as you have loved us. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Julie Estep. Julie loves her husband John and their combined five adult children and four grandchildren. Her favorite activities are walking their two dogs and golfing. She loves sharing her faith and is grateful for the chance to be a LIO contributor.


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


Pray For God’s People – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“The rest of those who have gone before us cannot steady the unrest of those to follow.” I love that movie quote. It has danced around my head for the last twenty-one years. I used it when my mother passed twenty years ago and when my uncle passed last week. The difference between then and now is, I don’t need to use it for myself. Unrest is a feeling of disturbance and dissatisfaction in a person. It’s the turmoil that keeps you from the calm within the storm. Many of us deal with unrest, but for Christians, we get through it because we know who we belong to; we know that we are loved. What about non-believers?

Luke 15:7
In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!

God loves us all equally, but what excites heaven? We know that prayer matters to us, but it also matters for those who don’t know God and those who have turned away from God. Help rest the unrest in a non-believer by showing them, “heaven blessed the day God sent you here,” but it also celebrates the day you return. God invites us to participate in that adventure, which is why our spiritual work feels out of whack when it’s a “me” mentality. A journey for one is more lonely than fruitful.

Think about when you were lost, felt unloved, or stopped believing. Do you think your prayers alone returned you to God? I think that’s doubtful because we often stop praying or pray for the wrong things when we turn from God. Someone continued to pray for you and me when we were suffering. So pray for the lost sheep. Remember that they are people worth remembering.

Questions:
Do you feel like your spiritual growth includes people outside of your circle? Are you consciously praying for non-believers instead of waiting for them to figure things out?

Next Steps:
Include everyone on your spiritual journey. Use the My Top Five Cards by going to cedarcreek.tv/mytop5 and choose four people in your life you can pray for. Leave one spot open for someone God brings in your path. Don’t be afraid to let others know you pray for them.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for loving me enough to invite me to actively help others find their way back to you. I am grateful for the people who prayed for me when I was lost, and I appreciate the strength you give me to forgive and pray for those who have wronged me. I pray that we all work together to share your truth. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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


Guiding Light – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sometimes we are more worried about making our point to someone than we are pointing them to Jesus.

In a confusing world, where people struggle to find the truth and a sense of balance in their lives, it’s important to remember that the choice to follow Jesus is the most critical decision someone can make. If we don’t keep this truth in mind when we disagree about much less important matters, we can do a lot of good and still lose our way.

In 1 Corinthians 1:10, God calls us to function in love, unity, and agreement—“to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.”

Paul is explaining that we must join together, that God would not have division. If we are truly in Christ Jesus, then we will live our lives together as in him.

When this happens, God showers blessings upon us and uses us to bring more people to Christ. We are carrying the lamp, because we, as believers, are the light and must become more attentive to those who don’t know Christ.

Sadly, sometimes we are more worried about making our point to someone than we are pointing them to Jesus.

You cannot force your opinions on others, despite how justified you believe you are. God made each of us unique, with unique wiring, skills, strengths, and experiences. Since we each have a unique perspective, it’s normal for us to disagree—but love should guide us in our disagreement.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3
1If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didnt love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of Gods secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didnt love others, I would be nothing. 3If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didnt love others, I would have gained nothing.

We, as believers, should show agape, or unconditional love. We should show people we care about them and want them to know the love God has for them.

According to 1 Corinthians 13:5-7, someone walking in love does not seek to dishonor anyone. Love is slow to anger and does not rejoice in anything evil. A person who works in love always looks for the truth and keeps no record of wrong.

1 John 4:8
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

God has chosen to be known to us as the Father. He loves you more deeply and powerfully than any earthly parent ever could.

John 13:34-35       
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Jesus is telling us that this great unselfish love for each other will set us apart from the rest of the world. The greatest love anyone could have would be to give his life for his fellow man, and that is just what Jesus did.

Questions:
Are you missing out on God’s love? Do you feel that, as a believer, you have nothing to offer? Do you let what others say direct your path in life?

Next Steps:
Now is the time to light your lamp, let it shine for all to see, reach out to others, show them you care, and offer compassion. Read the Bible, learn Scripture, join a Group, and be a part of a DreamTeam, because God’s hands are open now to receive YOU.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I pray through the power of the Holy Spirit that I will develop Christlike love in my life, so that you will be glorified and others will be drawn to your unconditional love. Help me be the lamp you shine light through, so your love may flow to reach many people. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


This post was written by Gary Schnabel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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


Paralyzed by Perfectionism – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

I’ve seen t-shirts commemorating what a struggle 2020 was, but I think we need similar ones for perfectionists: Perfectionism, 1 out of 5 stars, would not recommend.

Often we downplay perfectionism as merely striving for excellence, but we have all felt the pain it can bring—shame over messing up again, frustration when things aren’t exactly right, and, above all, the paralyzing fear of failure. Imposing unattainable standards on ourselves is easy, especially when it comes to our spiritual lives. But God offers free grace and relentless love. This frees us from needing to scrutinize our own life, so that we can focus on loving God and others.

God knows all you’ve done, your thoughts, your fears, your hopes—and regardless of your real and/or perceived failures, he still loves you tenderly. You cannot earn that love and grace. Jesus alone carries the weight of your redemption, making it futile to attempt to garner God’s love by torturing yourself with self-ridicule and perfectionism. There is also deep reassurance in realizing there is nothing you can do to lose God’s love. The apostle Paul explains this in Romans.

Romans 8:38-39
38And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because we are fully loved by God, we can show love to others without getting entangled in the need to get our lives, or theirs, completely together first. Perfectionism is ultimately inward-focused—the priority is our own expectations for ourselves and others. Yet, that completely misses the selfless life God calls us to live.

Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

Jesus has given us freedom from sin and a righteousness more perfect than we could ever attain through our own efforts. As a result, we should devote our attention to serving others. Give up the endless race for perfection, rest in God’s perfect love, and shift your focus toward being the hands and feet of Christ to other people.

Questions:
Where do you find perfectionism creeping into your life? What is one way you can recenter your focus on loving God and others?

Next Steps:
Memorize a Bible verse that reminds you of the love you’re called to show others. Find one practical way you can serve another person today and every day.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the love and grace you freely give. Because of these gifts, I can quit striving for perfection on my own strength and focus on loving you and others. You call me to serve those around me, so please make me aware of the needs I can meet. Give me your heart for others. Amen.


This post was written by Sarah Pagel, a regular contributor and editor or the LivingitOut.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


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


The Barbarian Way – Letters in Red

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“But then the worst thing happened that could happen to any fighter, you got civilized.”

-Mick to Rocky,
Rocky III

Sixteen years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference in Chicago where Pastor Erwin McManus, from Mosaic Church in California, gave a talk that I still remember today. It was based on his book, titled, The Barbarian Way.

With his words, he painted a picture of a younger version of himself that was new to following Jesus. There was a lot that he didn’t know about being a Christian, but he did know that he loved Jesus and was experiencing a new and full life because of Jesus’ love for him. As a result, he found his love for others growing, and he wanted them to experience the joy, forgiveness, and purpose that he had found.

Sharing Jesus’s love with others became a young Erwin McManus’ drive and passion. Filled with enthusiasm, he set out to know God more and make Jesus known to others. He didn’t always have the most eloquent words, and his actions were sometimes abrasive, but he was in love with Jesus and wanted to tell the world. McManus called this courageous mindset the Barbarian Way.

As time went on, though, something happened. McManus became more “civilized.“ As he surrounded himself with like-minded people, his focus turned more towards his interactions with them. Eventually, his enthusiasm to share Jesus with individuals outside of his group lessened. When he did have a chance to share Jesus with others, he found himself worried about saying things eloquently. He, in essence, had lost his way.

This weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared that you can do a whole lotta good and still lose your way. In McManus’ case, he realized he was still doing good things, but he had stopped doing the work he did at first. My guess is that many of you who are reading this can relate to this story. It is easy to turn our focus inward and stop seeing the opportunities we have to show God’s love to others. The good news is, Jesus tells us how to get back on track and begin loving others like we once did.

Revelation 2:4-5
 4But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! 5 Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”

This verse plays out in Erwin McManus’ book The Barbarian Way. In it, McManus reflects back on what it was like when he first started to follow Jesus. He remembered who he was and what he did when God’s love was made known to him. He recognized his need to repent for losing his love for others and made a commitment to return to doing the things he did at first.

Perhaps you can relate to this story. Maybe you are doing a whole lot of good, but you have lost your way. If that is where you find yourself today, you are not alone. We have all been there and will be again. The good news is we can get back on track by remembering, repenting, and returning to God.

Questions:
Read Revelation 2:1-7. What was the Church of Ephesus doing well?

What was God’s complaint against them?

Read Revelation 2:5. In order to regain what was lost, what steps did the church need to take?

What were some of the things you did when you started following Jesus?

What is something you did at first that you are no longer doing?

NextSteps:
Ask God for a renewed love for others and for your eyes to be opened to the opportunities you have to share Jesus with them. Write down the names of five people you can invite to church this Easter, and look for opportunities throughout your day to invite someone you encounter.

Prayer:
God, thank you for being patient with me and for always making it possible to return to you when I lose my way. Today, I want to say thanks for loving me. It is because of your love for me, that I am able to love those around me. Help me to remember this truth as I share your love with others today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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