Light in the Darkness

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We don’t have to look far to see darkness in our world today. There is chaos on multiple issues. 2020 is holding nothing back as each day seems to present bad news on top of bad news. At this time, people need answers. They need a light in the darkness that surrounds them.

Matthew 5:14-16
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

In these verses, Jesus tells us that we can give light to the world’s darkness.  When we show our good deeds by serving others and refuse to let our faith be private, we make a difference by pointing to Jesus, the answer the world needs.

When we let our lights shine by serving others, we feel good because we see people’s immediate needs being met, but feeling good about ourselves and meeting others’ immediate needs isn’t the reason we serve. The reason we serve others and let our light shine is found in the “so that” of verse 16.

Matthew 5:16
16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

We feed the hungry, care for the sick, encourage the tired, and serve in several others ways so that everyone will praise God.

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year. Tomorrow is Serve Day.

A one-day event that provides an opportunity for all of us to go into our communities and love our neighbors. Together on Serve Day, our church can shine and be a light that points to the love of Jesus.

We do this by taking on practical projects to help others! By identifying the needs in our neighborhoods and cities and working together to take steps in meeting these needs. Through these acts of service, we hope people’s hearts will be opened to the love of Jesus.

Obviously, serving others goes beyond Serve Day. The call to let our light shine is a call to live our lives in a way that points others to Jesus. It is a call to you as an individual and a collective call to our Church. When it comes to presenting the answer of Jesus to the world, you and I are God’s plan. Let’s shine brightly tomorrow in our city and in the days ahead.

Questions:

Do you see yourself as someone who brings light to dark situations?

Do you believe that your good deeds can point others to Jesus? Why or why not?

How can you let your light shine this week?

NextSteps:
Let your light shine by participating in Serve Day. If you are in a Group, join your Group’s Serve Day Project. You can also serve on your own or with your family by signing up to complete one of the “Do it yourself” projects found on the Serve Day Directory.

As the year moves on, ask yourself these questions to identify ways to serve those around you:

  • Who in your neighborhood has a need?
  • What business or organization within your sphere of influence could use a blessing?
  • What are some areas you’re passionate about?
  • How can you use your skills and abilities to serve others?
  • What resources do we have access to offer others?

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father. You are the light. You provide answers in the darkness. I praise you, and thank you for giving hope in every situation. Thank you for making us part of your plan to share that hope with others. I pray that tomorrow, as we serve our communities on Serve Day, our good deeds will shine out for everyone to see so that everyone will praise you. I love you and pray this 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.


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A Godly Foundation

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Joshua 24:15
“… But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

When we are armed with that belief system, we have a foundation that Jesus illustrates in the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew 7:24-27
24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. 25 Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. 26 But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. 27 When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.

Why do I do the things I do?

For the most part, I genuinely believe that my motive is rooted in my personal mission statement: Honor God.

I want to honor God with my words, actions, abilities, and resources. Do I do that perfectly everyday? Absolutely not! That is where I grow the most, though. You see, through God’s grace, if I honestly believe I could have done better, I am given an opportunity to learn and grow. Each experience grows me closer to God and makes me a better person.

For me, I have to fight to deny my selfish ambition. There are constantly attacks to do things that would temporarily satisfy me but not honor God. As an example, I’m writing this devotional. It would be just as easy to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. But the more I serve God, the more disciplined I become in my mission statement.

My friends, spiritual muscles don’t grow overnight. We have to work on our faith daily and verify our motives. I wholeheartedly love to help people. I will do anything for anybody. But I have to tell you, that spiritual ambition took time, and I had to build my belief system on a Godly foundation.

Using your gifts and abilities to honor God is not a natural response—it is a supernatural response. The more you apply proper motive to your words and actions, the more you’ll grow as a Christian.

Questions:
Whom do you serve and why? What motivates your thoughts and actions? How can you fight the temptation to ask: “What’s in it for me”?

Next Steps:
Take a step back and question your motives. Take that moment to get some clarity, connect with God, and ensure that what you’re doing has pure intention.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help us to grow in our ability to serve. Give us genuine hearts that seek to honor you with our abilities and resources. Help us to remember that you are always with us, and we can rely on your wisdom. Open our eyes to the opportunities, and give us willing hearts to serve. May we stand confidently, knowing you are using us to do amazing things for your glory. Amen.


This post was written by Mike Bilik. Mike is a father to 3 amazing daughters and one awesome son. Spare time is rare, but given the opportunity, you are likely to find him with friends hiking, hunting, or fishing.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Goals!

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I’ve set goals to concentrate on this summer: my faith, friends, family, and my health. I have found that defining these goals has provided me with some direction. It’s helped me be more intentional about staying connected.

I am taking advantage of Facebook Live prayer time, the daily LivingItOut Bible Study, and prayer and worship through online services to help me grow my faith. I have chosen to volunteer at a soup kitchen, offered to drive friends and family, and set aside time for fun and relaxation to meet my relationship goals. Relationships take time and energy, but it’s what we were created to do. My health is important to me as well—eating right, exercising, and getting plenty of rest requires planning. (Now there is a goal!)

I have found that I need to be careful to make sure I’m not missing out on one of my goals because I’m too focused on another. Goals can become like the “gods” that Joshua talks about. You have to be aware of how one affects the other. It’s all a balancing act—like the spinning plates that Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about. I have to constantly check my motives for my choices and actions and pray continually so that I am not making any one “goal” my “god.” There is only one true God. Joshua was right in deciding that he and his house would follow the Lord. I can’t imagine a life lived any other way.

Joshua 24:14 NIV (emphasis added)
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

When you know what is most important, it makes it easier to say “NO” to what isn’t. When everything is important, nothing is important. So let’s get rid of all the unnecessary … the distractions … the unimportant. THROW AWAY what is NOT MOST IMPORTANT!

Having a statement, or a rally cry, brings you back to what is important NOW.

Life gives us so many choices in a day! When we choose the words that reflect our values, those words help give clarity, connection, and calm. We hold on to what gives value and let go of what doesn’t.

Choose to serve God, throw away the unnecessary, and use your gifts to serve others!

Questions:
Are you disconnected and, therefore, disintegrating? What is your battle cry? What three words describe what is most important to you? Are your values integrated in your every day?

Next Steps:
Set some goals that will help you choose what matters most to you.  Decide what needs to be thrown away to accomplish those goals. Write it down, and share it with someone you trust.

Prayer:
Most holy and wonderful Father in heaven, thank you for this day. Thank you for the opportunity to get clarity on what matters most, to connect with other like-minded Christians, and opportunities to serve in your glorious name. Give us strength to stay focused on you as the world seems to spin out of control around us. Show us, Lord, how to bring light into a dark hour. 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.


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The Choice Is Yours

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Think about who you are at this moment and the choices you made to get here. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said we face up to 35,000 choices a day. Some of those decisions are as simple as whether you’re going to drink soda or water. Other choices are much harder. They determine what type of parent, friend, worker, or student you’re going to be. They make up the most significant moments of your life and help decide who you are. They have the potential to lead you down a variety of roads.

In Joshua’s statement to the Israelites, he was calling people to make a choice. He was saying choose today who you are going to serve. He was asking the Israelites to declare who they were which would determine what they would do.

Joshua 24:14-15 NIV (emphasis added)
14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

I think about some of the choices I have made over the years and the roads they’ve led me down. Unfortunately, the roadmap of life doesn’t always come with complete directions. Navigating alone is a dead end. I have faith that the one who created my map will get me to where I need to go. My wrong turns remind me that even when I don’t know where I am going, I know whom I chose to belong to and follow. And I know that I will never be completely lost.

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

Do you need help navigating?

The choice is yours: Whom will you serve this day?

Questions:
Are you comfortable with who you are? Do you find it easier to make hard choices when your focus is on God? Do you search for your identity in God or in other people?

Next Steps:
Pray about the decisions you need to make in your life. Choose specific words and goals that define you as an individual and family. Choose to show everyone who you are in God.

If you haven’t done so yet, make a choice to follow Christ. If you have questions or want to know what your next step is, reach out and connect with us at CedarCreek.tv or download our app.

Prayer:
God, thank you for giving us a choice to serve you. Our faith is stronger because it was never forced. Continue to lead us as we grow in who we are as individuals in Christ. Thank you for reminding us of your promises. May we use our faith to share your love, as you have graciously shared it with us. In Jesus’ name we pray, 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.


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Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

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This past weekend, we looked at how words put together in a simple statement can provide you clarity, connection, and calm.

We read in the Bible that Joshua, who led the Israelites into the promised land, had a statement that he used to bring clarity, connection, and calm to the Israelites when they found themselves drifting from God. We find it in Joshua 24.

Joshua 24:14 (emphasis added)
Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.

In this powerful statement, Joshua was saying, “This is what we are about!”

Words are powerful, and when we make a declaration about who we are and what we are going to do, it provides us with clarity, connection, and calm. Over the next few days, we are going to look at a few of the key elements of Joshua’s statement and apply them to our lives.

In their message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder and his wife, Lauren, talked about how they had spent some time with their four kids developing a list of values that were important to them as a family unit. They invited us to do the same.

The idea can be kind of intimidating, so it might help to develop a list of words to start. You can easily Google “values” or “core values” to jump-start your process. As a family, a couple, or a single person with your CedarCreek Group or friends, list the values that are most important to each of you. Further discuss those values to bring clarity and connection as you listen to each other explain the reasoning behind your individual choices. It really brings wonderful insight and opportunity for deep and heartfelt discussion. You might learn something about the people you do life with! Eventually settle on the top three or four words you and your unit value most.

I tend to land on gratitude, generosity, faith, and integrity. In my family, I am grateful for the loving relationships that I have. I try to be generous with my time and my possessions. I desire to live as a follower of Jesus, and to let people know about my faith in him. And I strive to let my “yes be yes” and my “no be no” (Matthew 5:37), so people can depend on me to do what I say I will do. When things get a little chaotic and upside down, I can fall back on these values to guide my responses. This brings me a great sense of calm because I know how I want to respond.

Once you have defined what you value, you can move on to developing a purpose or mission statement that incorporates these values. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life said, “Fulfilling your life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God’s glory.” Do a little self-discovery work and figure out what your mission is! It will bring glory to God and clarity, connection, and calm to you and your family.

Questions:
Have you taken steps to define your core values? Can you limit them to three or four with your family or group? How might they help you construct a mission statement for you and your group?

Next Steps:
Spend some time praying about the values you have identified. Ask God how he wants to use those values in your life, and how they can bring glory to him. Incorporate them into a couple of sentences that say, “This is what we are about!”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you that you have designed each one of us uniquely. You have put us into the groups of people we find ourselves in now, with a purpose that only we can fulfill. As we spend time finding out how you have wired us, please give us wisdom to know how to use our gifts to further your kingdom. We want to complete the mission you’ve created us for, knowing that it will bring glory to you. In Jesus’ name, 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


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