Roar – The Bible is Greek to Me

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I love to sing even though I am not particularly gifted at it. As a child, I went to a Catholic school for a couple years.  One day, I sang my heart out during mass. A girl in our class, who was an amazing singer, told me, “You should not be singing. You sound awful.”

To this day, I don’t always belt it out in church, but on beautiful days I love to open my sunroof and sing my favorite songs at the top of my lungs. (Of course, I do this when no one is in the car.) I have found if I listen to praise and worship songs on my way to work, I usually have a much more peaceful day. I think this is because I am taking my focus off my concerns, problems, or worries and putting my focus on praising and worshiping God instead. This reminds me how loving and powerful my God is and that I can trust him. It fills my heart with hope and gratitude.

One of my favorite songs to listen to on the way to work, with my sunroof open, is “Raise a Hallelujah”. I would recommend listening to this 11 minute version on YouTube which shares the powerful story behind the song. It talks about how a church family came together to pray for a family and their young son who was very ill. Jonathan David Hessler, Bethel Music, talks about the night they thought the little boy was going to die. Jonathon was heartbroken, and he thought there was no hope for this little boy. He started writing this song, and his fear and worry turned into a song of praise. (The word hallelujah is an expression of worship or rejoicing.)

I raise a hallelujah, in the presence of my enemies
I raise a hallelujah, louder than my unbelief
I raise a hallelujah, my weapon is a melody
I raise a hallelujah, Heaven comes to fight for me.

Chorus:

I’m going to sing in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, You’re going to hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive.

These lyrics give me hope, especially when I feel defeated or overwhelmed. They help me realize that the best way to fight the battles is by worshiping and praising God. I don’t have to fight alone. God will come to fight for me. I don’t have to worry or control things, I just need to let my praises ROAR. Hallelujah!

Colossians 3:16
Let the message about Christ in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Questions:
How do you worship and praise Jesus? What is your favorite worship/praise song? How does worshiping and praising God affect your life? How easy or difficult is it for you to participate in worship at church? Why?

Next Steps:
Sing during the worship time, even if you don’t feel like you have the greatest singing voice. If this is difficult for you, pray and ask God to help you worship and praise him in song. Listen to at least one worship song when you first wake up in the morning.

Prayer:
Lord, I praise and worship you! You are an awesome and amazing God. I trust you and have faith in you. I thank you for all of your provisions. I am so humbled that the God of the universe loves me so much and wants to have a personal relationship with me. You know the areas I am struggling in and I am glad I can surrender them to you. I am so grateful I am able to praise and worship you through song. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


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Firm Foundation – The Bible is Greek to Me

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God is our firm foundation!  As we read Scripture, listen to a message, or hear a song, we can hear him calling us to step out in faith. One song that has inspired me is Build My Life by Housefires.

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.”

This summer, I crafted my plan for how to use my time off—organize and purge the clutter from my house. I even set up boxes that I’d been saving to help the process. But then God had other plans for my summer.

He placed people in my path who needed help. I’ve had a lot of talks about my faith—where it comes from, why I have it, and why I share it. I’ve helped people in simple ways, such as taking them to an appointment, applying for a program, walking a dog, or just listening. But all those things take time. Time away from what I had planned.

I don’t tell you this to brag about how “good” I am, because I’m not. Usually, my nature is to be too busy for other people and their needs. I have a calendar, a schedule, and things to do! But God has asked me to step out in faith, and he has proven to be a firm foundation.

Music is one way we remind ourselves of God’s trustworthiness.  That’s why I love the praise band at CedarCreek! Specific songs have spoken to my heart at times. Whether it’s praising God to “Oceans” by Hillsong and spending the day serving in Mexico, or singing Francesca Battestelli’s “Holy Spirit” before school starts and praying for the students and staff, music has helped me remember that God is a firm foundation. When we can “Raise a Hallelujah” in the midst of our upended plans, we show God that we trust in Him and Him alone.

Questions:
Did you know God hears you singing as a joyful noise? Have you ever closed your eyes and lifted your voice in song to God as a way of prayer?  Why or why not?

Next Steps:
Tune in to a Christian music station for the next 30 days.  Download the music from the devotions this week and share them with a friend. Research the origin of a worship song.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the music you inspire. We lift our hearts in prayer when we lift our voice in song. Continue to ignite a passion for worship music throughout the land and help our ears hear the message behind it. We praise you and glorify you for being such a firm foundation. In Jesus name, amen.


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 Song of Praise – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Even though I may not have the best singing voice, music is woven into the fibers of everything I am. My mom always played Stevie Wonder or Lionel Richie vinyl on Saturday afternoons. The many styles of jazz have stirred up emotions since I can remember, and the social commentary of “The Message” was the first hip-hop song I ever heard.

Music is everywhere, and it hits differently when it touches your soul. Sunday mornings were always a time of praise and worship, and it usually went longer than planned—that’s how it was when a song took the congregation to church. Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said that to praise something is to give warm approval and admiration. It’s why people clap at the end of a song. But when we do so at church, it’s not to give approval to the band but rather to the Lord, keeping our focus in the proper spot.

Hebrews 12:2
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Psalm 145:3-4
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness. 4Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts; let them proclaim your power.

We worship through singing to show that we understand and appreciate all that Jesus has done for us. Jesus could see past the suffering of the cross to look forward to eternal happiness, so we praise the King of Kings.

“Thank You” is a song by Maverick City Music that speaks to how we should praise.

I can shout ‘til my voice gives way
Leap ‘til I have no strength
Lose my breath trying to explain
I can’t praise You enough

It also speaks to Jesus’ great love for us.

You sang ‘til I found my song
You danced ‘til my heart woke up
You wept ‘til I found my strength
You lost your breath dying to save me

The Bible is full of reasons why we should never stop praising God.

Questions:
Do lyrics speak of God’s promises to you?

Do you make an attempt to praise God through songs?

Next Steps:
Open your Bible and look for other instances of the importance of praising God.

Listen to the CedarCreek playlist on Spotify for daily opportunities to sing praises to God.

Prayer:
God, may we use times of worship to reflect, share, and sing our praises to you. Let us be thankful that you have gifted those with the spirit of music to give us new ways to say thank you. I hope we can all learn to endure our struggles to see a clearer picture of the promises of joy beyond this place. Amen.


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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Our Chains are Gone – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Most of my friends connect deeply with God through music. You may have seen some of them on stage at CedarCreek, while others of them are working behind the scenes in Production. Still others are just standing with you in the crowd, having a moment with God as they sing their hearts out.

If I’m being honest, while I love music, it has never been the primary way I connect with God. When I went away to college, I was the person who decided which church I wanted to attend based on how much singing there was. (Two songs before the message, great; three, okay; any more was way too many for me.)

But that doesn’t mean I never feel God move through music. There are moments when I’ll feel his presence through song, and this past weekend was one of them. There were some powerful songs performed beautifully, and as someone who is very story-driven, hearing the stories behind them was incredibly impactful.

One of the songs we discussed was one we’re all familiar with, a classic that’s had some additions made in more recent generations: “Amazing Grace—My Chains are Gone,” originally by John Newton, but with lyrics added by Chris Tomlin.

In an interview, Tomlin said on the topic, “I never set out to take the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ and add something to it—anybody would be crazy to do that! It’s only the greatest song ever written.” “Amazing Grace” is certainly a classic that powerfully summarizes the foundation of our faith—our salvation through Jesus and what it feels like to surrender our lives to him, becoming something new. Who could add to that?

On the other hand, Tomlin acknowledges in the same interview that he’s certainly not the first to add to the classic hymn. And maybe that’s why the hymn can be known as the greatest song ever written—for the way believers of the past can relate to the core of it, but also adjust it to their own experience.  We all have different stories. We come from different backgrounds and upbringings, work in different careers, live in different neighborhoods. As Christ followers, we each have a unique life-changing journey. At the same time, we are all united on what Jesus has done for us, in the fact that we were all lost, but are now found; we were all once blind, but now we see. We all have a unique adventure with Jesus, but as a church we can be strengthened by our variety of unique experiences, and by the lessons of the Christ followers who came before us.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13
12The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

Hebrews 12:1
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

Questions:
How did this weekend’s message add meaning to your understanding of the song “Amazing Grace”? How does it feel knowing you’re one part of such a long line of people, all united by what Jesus has done for us? How do your unique, personal experiences help strengthen the church as a whole?

Next Steps:
Spend some time listening to “Amazing Grace” and reflecting on its lyrics. If you’re part of a Group, consider listening to it together and discussing your individual stories of amazing grace—your testimonies. You each have unique stories that can be used to strengthen each other.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your amazing grace and the way it has powerfully impacted my life. Thank you for freeing me from the chains that made me a slave to my sins. Thank you also for the way your grace unites all of us as Christ followers. May our individual stories strengthen your church as a whole. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


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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Heart Connection! – The Bible is Greek to Me

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Music connects God’s words to our hearts.

I began with this weekend’s bottom line because I want you to ponder it for a moment. Think about some of your all-time favorite songs. You probably know all, or at least most of the lyrics, even if it is a song from many years ago. Or how many times have you had a certain song stuck in your head? This is because God created us to have emotions, and music stirs the emotions in us. It connects with our heart and creates different feelings inside of us because music captures what words alone cannot. As Bob Seger mentions in one of my favorite songs, “That kind of music just soothes my soul.”

This past weekend Lead Pastor Ben Snyder referred to music as the language of our hearts. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the Bible mentions songs and singing all throughout, from Genesis to Psalms (an entire book of sacred songs or poems meant to be sung) to Revelation. Throughout scripture we are reminded how music and singing connect our hearts to God.

Ephesians 5:18-20
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.  Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit 19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.  20 And give thanks to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Colossians 3:16
Let the message about Christ in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.

Music has had a special effect on humans all throughout biblical history. Pastor Ben went on to say that music takes on new meaning when you know the story behind it. As he provided a few examples, I found myself wanting to do some research on the story behind some of my favorite songs, which might be a great rainy-day project.

Learning about the music in the Bible can help connect God’s words to our hearts (there’s that bottom line again). Take time to read the LIO for the rest of this week and connect your heart to a few popular songs and discover more Bible verses about music.

Questions:
How does music make you feel?

Do you know the history of music in the Bible?

Next Steps:
Be sure to read the rest of the LivingItOut this week to learn more about how music connects our hearts to God.

Make a commitment to read and study some of the Bible verses that talk about music. Here are a few to start with:

Choose your favorite worship song and learn the story behind it.  This site might be helpful as you explore.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I am so thankful you created me with emotions. Thank you for the gift of music and the wonderful way it connects with my heart. Instill in me the desire to learn more about singing and praise the way you intended it. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller. Ned loves serving through writing on the LIO team, prayer team, group leader and as a greeter. He loves spending time with his family and working on his model railroad.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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