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