Love Them Well — The Great Divide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Great Divide has the power to either keep us down during our darkest and loneliest moments or bring us together as we recognize what makes life special.

How can division bring us together?

Well, it first creates an opportunity for us to learn about what we have in common and what makes us different. And then we’re given the opportunity to choose to grow alongside each other. But sometimes, we see people as being too different from us—culturally, physically, spiritually, ideologically, and we miss the chance to love what makes each of us unique.

Think about when you were a child. There were times in school when a new kid showed up, and you had a decision to make: Should I make his life easier by asking him to sit with us at lunch, or should I ignore him? There’s always a choice to make. Do you invite the only ethnically different kid in class to your house to play? Do you whisper about the few white people at your all-black church?

Imagine how Jesus would handle any of those situations. He went out of his way to sit down and have conversations with those considered different. Think about the pain he must feel when we don’t do the same.

1 Corinthians 1:10
I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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.

Something gets lost in the translation of this scripture. The word “division” in ancient Greek is “schismata,” which means to tear. The disciple Paul, who wrote this verse, is begging for us to stop ripping apart the body of Christ. We need to love one another by bridging the gap, and we do that by staying connected. Everyone is guilty of failing to love the way God intended. As Jonathan McReynolds says in his song “People,” I ask God to “forgive me when I’m one of those people.”

Questions:
How do you initially respond to someone who doesn’t see things your way? Do you attempt to learn about those who are culturally different from you?

Next Steps:
Make an effort to live life with others outside of school, church, and the workplace. Invite people to church to show them what your faith is about. Attend GrowthTrack to further understand and learn how to use your spiritual gifts.

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for my selfishness when I fail to understand the differences I have with others. Thank you for blessing me with opportunities to share my faith in different ways. Help others realize that our misunderstandings don’t determine who we are as a whole. Allow us to continue to grow together so that we may love as you have intended. 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


Listen and Learn — The Great Divide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Yesterday, we talked about our call to love everyone, whether they agree with us or not. Today, we will talk about how we can live this out by listening and learning.

Listen and learn—what an interesting concept. Many times, I have heard the phrase “watch and learn,” and I get that. When we see something, our minds grasp it immediately, and the process is, typically, quick and painless. But listening—that can take time, and for many of us, time is a precious commodity. We don’t take the time to really listen to what those around us are saying. This happens in our workplace, social gatherings, and even families. Imagine how many problems and conflicts could have been avoided if we had just taken the time to really listen and learn from what others had to say? Jesus always took the time to listen because of his great love for all people. God calls us to do the same.

This past weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about how we all have people we consider our “in-crowd”—the people we share common interests with. We also have an “out-crowd”—those whom we would not normally associate with, perhaps because of our complex differences, or maybe just because they’re “not the same” as us. Jesus did not differentiate; he did not have an in- or out-crowd. He already knew the most intimate details of everyone’s lives, but he took the time to listen anyway. We are not like Jesus. We don’t have all the facts about the people we encounter, so listening is even more important.

Why and how should we listen to people who are unlike us? We need to listen in a way that we’re able to find our common ground, a foundation from which we can build on to reach common unity. We need to learn about the speaker as we listen to see what makes them who they are and to recognize their value. Because to God, they are valuable, and they should be to us also. When we find that unity with someone unlike us, we find ways to overcome our complex differences. Eventually, we’ll even expand our in-crowd.

What does this look like when put into practice, and can it really make a difference?

Let me take you back almost 50 years to my high school days. I had a classmate who everyone thought was antisocial because he hardly spoke to anyone. Because he kept to himself, people assumed he was snobbish and thought he was better than the rest of us. One day at lunch, I saw this individual sitting by himself and, on a whim, decided to sit across from him. We gradually started talking, and when he really started to unload his story, I found myself listening intently.

As it turned out, during his younger years, he had been physically abused by his father and told that he was worthless. He came to believe it and felt no one would want him for a friend. Over time, he became withdrawn and shy. As I listened, I discovered he really loved fishing, as did I (common ground). To make a long story short, through this time I spent listening and learning from him, we became friends. In fact, he was one of my closest friends throughout high school, and we shared many good memories. I like to think that I had as much of a positive impact in his life as he did in mine.

Be sure to come back tomorrow to learn the next step after listening and learning.

Questions:
When did you last really take the time to listen to someone and learn about them?

How does it make you feel when someone takes the time to really listen to what you have to say?

Next Steps:
Make it a point to take time this week to really listen to someone and try to learn what they are all about.

Joining a group is a good way to find others with some common ground and open up new opportunities to listen and learn.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in these frantic-paced times we live in, it seems too difficult to take the time to really listen to others and learn about them. Convict my heart, Lord, to show others the love you’ve shown me by  taking the time to listen long enough to find some common unity. Help me to see what you already know, that they are valuable. Father, help me go beyond listening and learning by taking action for the needs of others as I learn them. Thank you for the people you have placed in my life who care enough to listen when I need them, and help me to do the same for them. In your precious name I pray. Amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, 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


A Call to Love — The Great Divide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In our new series, The  Great Divide, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said Jesus should be the foundation of our identities as Christ-followers. We should let him determine our direction, and we can begin with his greatest commandment.

Matthew 22:37-38 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.”

This verse shows us the kind of love that is called for to please God. It asks us to give all our love to God, making the desires of our hearts be his will for us, and to keep our minds on him rather than on the things of this world. Jesus is explaining that until we love God with every fiber of our being, we are incapable of loving others.

In his second commandment, Jesus opens a world of joy by telling us to love all people the way we love ourself. We are to show and give those around us, through every practical means available, what we have found by trusting and loving God.

Matthew 22:39-40 (NIV)
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

These commandments are worded differently but contain the very same idea as the Golden Rule. They encourage believers to measure their love for others by what they each wish for themselves.

Jesus told us that these two commandments encompass all the commandments God gave to Moses centuries before. He embraces us under two specific categories: love for God and love for one’s neighbors. Thus we would not murder, steal, lie, bear false witness, or covet if we loved our neighbor as ourself.

We have been called to love in this way whether we are in a group of like-minded people (insiders) or in a group of people who are completely unlike ourself (outsiders). Our bottom line this week is “let your common unity help you with complex differences.” Loving others is the common unity that will help us navigate our complex differences.

Questions:
How can we forgive the way God forgives?

Are you fully in love with God? Has he captured your heart, mind, and soul? In which areas of your life do you need to allow Christ to come in so that you learn to love others as yourself?

Next Steps:
We were created and designed to live in the light of God’s love—a love that is kind, tenderhearted, and ready to forgive. Starting today, forgive and love others as yourself to bring God’s joy into someone’s life.

Prayer:
Abba Father, I don’t give you the love you deserve. I disobey, act selfishly, and am very foolish with my life. Help me to show my love for you, worshiping you and loving you with all my heart, soul, and mind. You gave everything for me, now I want to return that love to you and share it with those around me.  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


Keep Him First — The Great Divide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Autumn is full of wonderful things. The warm sunshine, time with my family, a cozy fire, and doughnuts are all very special to me. But sometimes those beautiful gifts go beyond being special. Sometimes I focus more on the gifts than the gift-giver … God.

In the weekend message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder talked about the differences between a closed hand and an open hand. A closed hand holds what is most dear to us, the things worth fighting for. An open hand displays what we care about but are willing to let go of to protect what is more important.

Ben went on to say that both a closed hand and an open hand are valuable. You need to have a closed hand to make a difference and protect what you care about. But you also need to have an open hand, which enables you to openly receive new ideas and viewpoints that are important to others.

Jesus wants to bring us joy. He has given us the amazing gifts of family, friends, sunshine, and doughnuts. But Jesus also knows that we cannot have true joy if he isn’t at the center of our lives. Jesus wants to be our motive, the reason behind why we hold things tightly or freely. When I struggle with this choice, Lauren Daigle’s song “First” helps me refocus.

“First” by Lauren Daigle
First
I wanna seek you
I wanna seek you
First
I wanna keep you
I wanna keep you
First
More than anything I want, I want you
First

This song is a great example of how we should live our lives. God wants to be first. He is the first one we should turn to in a struggle, the first one we should ask when it’s right to open or close our hand.

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

Seek God’s will above all else. Ask him what to hold on to and what to hold freely. When success, family, and enjoyment are the only things we hold on to, we often end up lacking the joy that those things are said to bring. But if Jesus is at our center, we will be filled with the joy of his presence.

Questions:
What do you hold in your closed hand? What is in your open hand? Upon prayerful consideration, is there anything you should release from your closed hand? Is there anything you should consider holding tighter?

Next Steps:
Ask Jesus what you need to hold freely and what you need to hold on to. Practice putting Jesus first in your life by spending time with him every day. Read a devotional in the morning, or try praying every time you hit a red light on your way to work.

Prayer:
Father God, help me keep you first. You know how often I have fallen away. Help me to be willing to listen to you first and foremost. Help me understand what I need to hold tighter and what I should release. I want to keep you first. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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


Common Unity — The Great Divide

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Although things were far from perfect, we still managed to begin this year with a renewed resolve to band together and address the crucial social and cultural hotspots in our world. Then, the world erupted and split family, friends, and even fellow Christ-followers right down the middle.

As a result, we’re either angry, dazed, or feeling trapped in what our new series calls, The Great Divide.

In the weekend message, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder guided us through Jesus’ teachings to explain how we got here, and more importantly, how Jesus can lead us out.

This is how Jesus explains our Great Divide in John 10:10:

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

The thief slanders, divides, and tears apart. Driven by evil, the thief operates behind the supernatural curtain of the Great Divide, purposefully tearing apart our connections with each other.

Does this mean that we’re doomed? Not at all!

In the second half of John 10:10, Jesus declares that he is life. Furthermore, he established a community of followers who’ve become his church to bring the life-giving message of the gospel to our world.

Can Jesus close our great divide? YES! He conquered sin and death on the cross. Jesus came to bring unity to the most broken, hopeless people.

This weekend’s bottom line is “let your common unity help you with complex differences.” Even if we don’t agree with each other, we can agree that we should uphold Jesus’ vision and authority over our own opinions on the charged topics that are dividing us. Jesus is our common unity. He is the source of our identities, self-worth, and security. And he can help us navigate our differences with love.

Over the next few weeks, we will talk about complex issues, like our racial and political divides. Please join us as we learn together by listening to Christ’s teaching and wisdom.

Questions:
What are the Great Divides in your personal or professional life? In what ways do you feel the negative effects of those divisions?

What should we have in common with other Christ-followers?

Next Steps:
Make a list of social, political, or racial opinions that you feel strongly about. Read John 10:10, and look at your list. Which opinions are creating a destructive divide and which opinions align with Jesus’ purpose to bring life and hope?

Prayer:
Dear God, it’s so painful living in a world as divided as it is right now. Open my heart and mind to submitting to Jesus’ life-giving wisdom and letting go of my ideas and opinions that I’ve been holding on to. Amen.


This post was written by Barb Roose. Barb worked on staff at CedarCreek for 14 years before transitioning to becoming a full-time speaker and author four years ago. Barb attends CedarCreek every single weekend that she isn’t on the road traveling and is so proud of her church!


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