Live Like It Matters – The Vault

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Decisions—life is filled with them.

Some internet sources suggest a person navigates 35,000 decisions each day! Many are mundane:  Do we get up or sleep in? Wear the blue shirt or the black one? But others carry more weight: Should I buy this car or house? Or, will I create margin with my time or my finances to step into what God is calling me to or do my own thing? And perhaps the weightiest of them all: will I follow Jesus or not?

Regardless of the weight of the decision, each one requires us to count the cost. For each, we must ask—is it worth it? Sometimes those decisions require the inconvenient and uncomfortable path. A path that isn’t always the popular choice in today’s world.

Over the past three weeks, we have taken a deep dive into the parables from Matthew 25 and explored what it means to live a rich and satisfying life. Our fulfilling future begins by being faithful today. As faith-filled people, we need to leverage our resources to build up the Kingdom. But ultimately, we need to realize that our actions will be driven from our beliefs about God.

While I don’t know your beliefs, and in fact, you may still be working that out yourself, I do know what God believes about us.

John 3:16 (NIV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Jesus counted the cost and decided YOU are worth it.  As we like to say, You Matter! So, the choice in front of us is:

How then shall we live?

Ephesians 5:1-2
1 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.

We can choose to live like the world calls us to, including racking up debt or having too thin a margin, or we can make the decision to live in a way that honors God and serves others.

Live like it matters!

Questions:
What do you believe about God? What is something you could do to know God better?

In what ways do your choices reflect your belief about who God is?

Next Steps:
Spend time getting to know God and deepening your relationship with him. Continue to join us each weekend and spend 15 minutes each day reading the Bible and journaling.

Take time to consider the margin in your life with which you can serve others. If it’s a little thin, consider ways to increase it.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to give us eternal life. Help us to live a life modeled after his kindness and generosity.  Enable us to make wise decisions in how we manage our finances, giftings and time, in order to bring you honor and glory in all we do. Amen.


This post was written by Kelly Pagel, the Director of the LivingItOut.


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Give It All – The Vault

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Giving up your life is something that I bet never entered your mind when you considered following Jesus. Must we give up so much to follow him?

Yes! But why?

I read an amazing book by Pastor Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus. I felt it spoke directly to me and helped me change my view on following Jesus. (A special thank you to CedarCreek’s Founding Pastor Lee Powell for recommending it during a guest visit.)

For me, giving can almost be too easy. If I have something you want, all you have to do is ask, and there’s a good chance I’ll give it to you. More than once, I’ve gone to look for something only to remember I gave it away. It’s not mine anymore; it belongs to someone else.

As followers of Jesus, we gave the life we knew over to Christ. We are told by Paul in 2 Corinthians that anyone who accepts Jesus gives up their old life and is a new person—our old life is gone and a new life starts.

Matthew 16:24
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Think about it like this, we give up an addiction, a lifestyle, even our time, when we pick up our cross to follow Jesus. Yes, it’s a sacrifice. We’re losing something that we thought we needed or that brought us comfort, but none of those things even come close to providing us with the comfort Jesus brings when we give our faith to him. Jesus brings us a peace that cannot be matched by anything or anyone here on earth, because he is not of this world.

Matthew 25:41-46
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

If we think of what we’re giving away as our own, we’re missing the point.

Luke 20:25
“Well, then,” he said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”

We need to give God what is his—US!—our lives, our bodies, our talents, and our gifts. I’m sure many would consider this a sacrifice. As Jesus followers, we need to be mindful to not take credit for what God has given us; rather, we’re called to use our gifts to bring glory to God. Because when we refuse to share what we have been given with those who need our help, we are refusing God.

As Pastor Idleman explained in his book, we all need to decide if we’re fans of Jesus—someone who wants to be close enough to get all the benefits without all the sacrifice—or if we’re completely committed to Christ, sacrifices and all.

I’m not a fan. What about you?

Questions:
What have you given up so you can give it to God? How have you used your gifts in the way God intended?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack and learn how to purposely use the gifts God gave you for his glory rather than your own. Pray for guidance on how best to use your gifts to guide others to give themselves to God.

Prayer:
God, help me guide others to use their gifts to lead to a faith that is giving—a faith that is unafraid of giving up anything here on earth to follow the precious gift that you gave us, your Son, Jesus. Let me not be afraid to share the gift of your Son with anyone who may come across my path. Give them the same strength to grow their faith so that they, in turn, will share the gift of eternal life with others. Father, allow all the glory of my giving to be yours no matter the cost. Amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel. Casey is a follower of Christ, a dad, and an avid Chicago sports fan. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He works in recovery and loves to help people however he can. He is also working toward his Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.


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Serve Others – The Vault

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Where do you want to spend eternity?

If eternity with Jesus is your choice, we should imitate his ministry by graciously caring for the needs of others. It can be as simple as sharing a meal with someone in need. This is not to say that acts of service are the way to eternal life. Salvation is not based on our actions; it is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Because we have been given this gift, we should follow Jesus’ example.

Matthew 25:37-40
37 “Then these righteous ones reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’” (Emphasis added.)

These verses are very straight forward, unlike the parables Jesus often taught. Jesus is encouraging us to provide for those who are unable to provide for themselves, just as he cared for others throughout his ministry.

  • If someone is hungry … feed them.
  • If someone is thirsty … give them a drink.
  • If you meet a stranger … invite them into your life.
  • If someone needs clothes … give them clothing.
  • If someone is sick … help them.
  • If someone is in prison … don’t abandon them.

Jesus is trying to help us understand what it means to serve others in need, and by doing so, we are serving him.

When we serve others, we serve Jesus.

We do not know the day or the hour when Jesus will return, so we need to look for opportunities to glorify his name and expand his Kingdom. Ask yourself: What breaks my heart? Once you figure that out, put your time, talent, and resources there. One of the most important decisions you can make is to serve others in God’s name.

Our actions reveal what we believe about God.

When Jesus does return, we want to hear the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21).

Questions:
What breaks your heart? Are you gifted at creating the solution? If so, when can you start making a difference? If not, what is holding you back?

Next Steps:
Increase your awareness of the promises of God in your life. This can be done by spending time with other Jesus followers, reading his Word, or by reflecting on your own life to see where God has shown up.

Increase your awareness of others’ needs, and seek out opportunities to help them by volunteering your time or resources. Consider checking in on an elderly friend or family member or donating to a worthy cause.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, open my eyes to opportunities where I can serve others. Thank you for gifting me with talents to help those in need. Increase my awareness to see as you see. Thank you for sending Jesus to this world to be a shining example of how to express love and serve others. It’s in his 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.


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Unexpected Acts of Mercy – The Vault

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During his earthly ministry, Jesus performed many acts of mercy. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and helped the lame walk. He also chose to hang out with everyday sinners, tax collectors, and the outcasts of society. He performed the greatest act of mercy in history—he died for us so that we may experience new life forever with him. There is nothing we can do to earn or deserve God’s love and salvation; he gives it to us freely. However, we are called to live in the same way that Christ did—to show others the same mercy and grace that he shows us.

Matthew 25:34-36
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’”

Last December, a close family member suffered a temporarily debilitating injury. She has a very active job and values independence. Therefore, it was a challenge when she was put on nearly three months of bed rest at home. During that time, she had to rely on our family to help meet her basic needs.

I took time to clean the house, pick up food from the store, take care of the pets, and drive her to her appointments. I did not do anything spectacular that made all of the pain or the sadness go away. There was no big moment where I fixed all of her problems. In fact, most days, we struggled. It did not seem like much at the time, but the little things added up. I made her life a little easier while she went through one of the worst periods of her life.

This was a trying time in my life too, but God opened my eyes and showed me everything I took for granted. I had the ability to walk, to drive, to go to the grocery store … abilities that were temporarily taken away from her. If there was ever a memorable event in my life that showed me the significance of acts of mercy, this was it. I was able to use my abilities to help her do what she couldn’t do for herself, my blessings to help bless her. This experience taught me the importance of gratitude.

Let us never forget to thank God for every blessing. And let us willingly use our abilities and resources to show his grace to those around us who may be struggling.

Questions:
Has there been a time in your life when someone showed you God’s love and mercy in your time of need?

How can you use the blessings that God has given you to help others?

Next Steps:
This week, set a goal to perform one act of mercy. Pray that God will open your eyes to the needs of those around you and guide you to those whom you can use your gifts to help.

Consider donating clothing you no longer wear or extra food in your pantry to a local charity that will give it to those in need.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for freely giving us your love and mercy. Even though there is nothing we can do to earn it, you freely chose to give up your Son for us so that we can experience eternal life with you. Please help us practice gratitude and to share your love and mercy with others. Help us discern our spiritual gifts and use them to bless those in need. Open our eyes to ways in which we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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“Truth or Consequences” – The Vault

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Many years ago, there was a television game show called Truth or Consequences. In the show, contestants would have to answer an obscure trivia question in a very short amount of time or face a consequence. The consequence was usually an embarrassing stunt they would have to perform in front of a live audience. Of course, the questions were rigged for people to fail, and the consequences were about as embarrassing as TV would allow at the time. This prompted the show’s creator to make this statement about himself and his producers, “Aren’t we devils?” You can check out a clip of the show here: Truth or Consequences- 1966 Part 1

This past weekend, we learned about how each choice we make has a cost or consequence. Many times, if we make the right choice, there is also a reward. Unlike the TV show where the contestants only had a matter of seconds to get the truth (answer the question), we often have time to do a cost-benefit analysis when making our decisions.

Life is full of choices—some big, some small. I would argue the most important choice we will ever make is whether or not to accept Jesus as our Savior. Now, some of you may think that’s a no-brainer, while others of you may disagree or have doubts. Some of you may have already made the decision to follow Christ, and some of you may have decided Jesus is not what you want or need in your life. Whatever your choice is regarding Jesus, there will be a cost or consequence.

Choosing to reject Jesus as your Savior results in eternal separation from God. That sounds terrible!

So, what’s the cost for accepting Christ as your Savior? Comfort and convenience. Yes, living the type of life that God requires will take us out of our comfort zones and at times be inconvenient; however, the reward is a fulfilling and rewarding life in this world and ultimately an eternal life with him in heaven.

The decisions we make and actions we take reveal the truth about our priorities, which leads us to this week’s bottom line:

Our actions reveal what we believe about God.

Now, this does not mean that the path to heaven is based on the good works we do while on earth. Our salvation is only granted through God’s grace according to our faith.

Ephesians 2:8-9
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

The bottom line is highlighting that if our belief and faith is in Jesus, our actions will follow his teachings and example.

So, while the Truth or Consequences TV show was fun entertainment, when it comes to our faith in Jesus, the consequences of our life choices have eternal significance.

Matthew 25:31-33
31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”

Continue reading the LIO this week to see what happens to those who are sorted to the right and left of the Son of Man.

Questions:
If you took time to reflect on your daily actions toward others, what would they reveal about your beliefs?

Do you believe the “truth” that Jesus is who he says he is? If not, why?

Next Steps:
Read “The Final Judgment” in Matthew 25:31-46.

Read the LIO this week to learn how to live out the type of life that demonstrates who we belong to and reflects our gratitude for what Christ did for us.

Commit to regularly attending a life-giving church, such as CedarCreek, to share life with others who can help you on your faith journey following Jesus.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I do not want to play a lifelong game of truth or consequences, not knowing the outcome. I believe in the truth that you are the one true God, and I am saved by your grace through my faith in you. Help me to gladly accept the consequences of discomfort and any inconveniences following you may bring. Help me to make sure my actions toward others reflect my belief in you. 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.


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Grown in Faith – The Vault

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Being faithful to God, my children, and the life he has given me gives me great joy. Being faithful to what is coming brings me greater joy.

I am an optimistic person, so I tend to look for the best in all situations. Sometimes that can be tough, though. Even the most faithful and optimistic people can get drained and have rough days.

Last weekend, we learned about the “Parable of the Three Servants” (also called the “Parable of the Talents”). As an optimist, I try to see the good in the servant who buried his one bag of silver. I know the parable has a meaning and purpose or Jesus wouldn’t have told it—have faith in your talents, and don’t doubt your abilities by burying them and doing nothing with what you are given.

Matthew 25:29
“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”

Follow me as I try to see things from the perspective of the third servant. Is it possible he buried his silver because he was afraid he would mess up? What if he truthfully and prayerfully thought that was the wisest decision he could make? Maybe he became a servant because he wasn’t good with his own money, and the best thing to do with it was hide it from himself? We’ll never know the details, but something caused him to be fearful and bury what he’d been given.

Matthew 25:25
“I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.”

One of my talents is talking to people—it can be a blessing and a curse at times. When I talk to someone and bring them joy or help them through a tough situation in life, it is so rewarding for me. But when I take on too much, I tend to lose track of myself and forget to do things that make me happy, smile, and feel good. Like the third servant, I have a tendency to lose faith and bury my talent when I become overwhelmed. But I don’t want to lose it or waste it.

I have to make a conscious effort to invest in myself and my relationship with God so that I have the energy to dig up my talent when I bury it and the faith necessary to let it grow. Then I’m better equipped to use my gifts to invest in what matters—expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.

What about you? Are you faithfully investing what your Master has given you?

Luke 17:6
The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!”

It only takes a mustard seed of faith for God to make a huge impact in our lives and in the lives of the people we encounter. When we invest in ourselves and our relationship with God through daily prayer and Bible study, our faith grows and our cup is filled. And when our cup is filled, it’s so much easier to pour ourselves into others’ lives to fill their cups too.

Questions:
Is your cup full? Are you helping to fill others’ cups?

How do you feel when you invest your time to help others?

Is something—fear, burnout, greed—preventing you from fully investing your gifts? Do you need to invest in yourself or your relationship with God (i.e.: find help, join Celebrate Recovery, participate in Financial Peace University, simplify your schedule, join a Group, etc.) so that you’re in a better position to faithfully share what you’ve been given?

Next Steps:
Go through GrowTrack to discover where you are best suited to invest your talents. You won’t regret it!

Ask a friend or neighbor what you can do to help them in their lives.

Invite someone to come to a service with you.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for the mindset you have given me and allowing me to care so much for others. Thank you for giving me the ability to determine when I need you, for being there to listen when I hit a rough patch in faith, and for always loving me through those times. I love you, Father, and am so thankful for the days you allow me to fill others’ cups because you’ve overflowed mine. In your Son’s glorious name, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel. Casey is a follower of Christ, a dad, and an avid Chicago sports fan. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with family and friends. He works in recovery and loves to help people however he can. He is also working toward his Associate Degree in Biblical Studies.


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You Need a Budget – The Vault

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My son’s birthday is at the end of the month. He is literally counting down the days—six in case you were wondering. He’s excited because he’s going to be eight, and he’s anticipating the presents he will be receiving. I’m sure he has grand visions of 1,000-piece LEGO sets or packs of Pokemon cards. The cost of these items mean nothing to him. He has a vague awareness of money and that it’s used to buy things, but in reality, things just magically appear in our house. Sometimes it’s from the Amazon delivery person, and sometimes it’s from the store. It really doesn’t matter.

This mentality is cute in a child, but it’s terribly dangerous when an adult lives by this mindset. The average American has almost $6,000 in credit card debt. We live in a culture that believes we can buy now and pay later. We have a vague notion of how much money we are making each month and that it should cover our monthly expenses. In reality, it never seems like we have enough.

To many of us, the thought of a budget seems restricting and, frankly, too hard to figure out. So, we continue in the spiral of spending, growing our debt. This is not how God designed us to function. Debt makes us a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7). The only way to get out of debt is by budgeting. Budgeting allows us to use money as the tool it was meant to be. When we have a budget, money is not our master. We tell it where to go.

Matthew 6:24
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.”

Budgeting helps us discipline ourselves so that money remains the tool it was always designed to be. One key part of a budget includes giving. This sounds counterintuitive when you have a huge credit card bill staring at you, but God promises blessings when we honor him first.

Proverbs 3:9-10
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce. 10 Then he will fill your barns with grain, and your vats will overflow with good wine.

Living within the parameters of a budget allows us to control where our money goes. It allows us to pay our debts, provide for our families, and give to our church. When we tell our money where to go, it loses its power over us—and God remains our master.

Questions:
Do you know where your money is going each month? Do you have a budget? Do you feel like there is never enough money to go around?

Next Steps:
If you have never been through Financial Peace University, consider signing up for one of the Groups starting up this month. If you don’t regularly give to the church, commit to it this month.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for being the giver of all good things. Thank you for the way you have blessed me in so many ways. Forgive me for allowing money to dictate my behaviors. Help me see that you have given me enough and it is my responsibility to steward it well. Help me develop a plan to use my resources in a way that provides for my needs and blesses others. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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The Responsibility of Your Ability – The Vault

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I’m not sure about the church you grew up in, but at mine, the children went off to Sunday school, while the grownups had devotionals, a sermon, and choir music. The kids were more involved on Youth Sunday (once a month) and during Christmas and Easter pageants, but other than that, it didn’t seem like church was for children.

Sunday school didn’t dive deep enough, but somehow we were expected to automatically transition to listening to the main message when we were old enough. We were always there, but as kids, we had to be quiet while the adults received their lessons from the preacher. We never learned how to grow into our spiritual purpose.  Many of us grew up believing only those who were “called” were tasked to spread the word. I didn’t know the message of the gospel was alive within me.

I naturally began moving toward my personal purpose in my early adult years, but I didn’t recognize the spiritual aspect of it right away. It took some time to realize my art was also my ministry, and when the push came to do more with it, I kept it to myself. I feared my voice wouldn’t be heard or no one would listen.

Matthew 25:24-25
24 “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t plant and gathering crops you didn’t cultivate. 25 I was afraid I would lose your money, so I hid it in the earth. Look, here is your money back.’”  

All the servants in the parable were called to do something with what they were given, but the third servant, who received the least, hid what he had been given. In the 1992 movie, Gladiator, the character Miss Higgins has a great line, “Talent is a common thing. People waste it every day. They abuse it. They take it for granted. Success comes not from what God has given you but from what you do with it.” Either the third servant didn’t see the value of his worth or he was afraid to step out in faith. He, like many of us, wasn’t ready to trust God. He wasn’t ready to just do something.

I don’t always trust, but I’ve been learning how to do it more. It started with finding where I could serve in the church, but more and more, I’ve found opportunities for my ministry (spreading the message) at work. Clients ask to have scripture added to the stories I write for them, and some ask to close our interviews in prayer.

Seeing the changes that occur when I focus on the gospel outside the weekend message is amazing.

Questions:
What’s stopping you from using what God has given you? Do you know that we are all called to a spiritual purpose?

Next Steps:
Find moments to share the message in everyday life by asking others if you can pray for them, inviting someone new to church, or asking a friend to join a Group.

Take GrowthTrack to unlock your spiritual gifts.

Prayer:
God, give me the strength and courage to continue to share your truth with wisdom and intuition in fresh ways, even if I have to color outside the lines. In the process, help me encourage others to share the gospel using their gifts. 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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Seeds – The Vault

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My family is notorious for killing plants. Even the supposedly “unkillable” succulents have died under our care. I have African violets in my room, and while they aren’t dead, they adamantly refuse to bloom.

Plants require a lot of work. You need to give them the right amount of shade and water, and keep away the weeds and insects. Growing them is full of tiny, repetitive actions, like watering and weeding, which can feel annoying at times.

Jesus once told a parable about a master who invited his servants to take part in his business. He entrusted each of them with some money while he was away. Two servants worked hard, and made double the amount of money they had been left with. When the master returned, they showed him their earnings.

Matthew 25:21
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’”

Like the master, God invites each of us to take part in his story. But it is up to us whether we step into it. Sometimes, the opportunities God gives us seem small and inconsequential. Sometimes, they are monotonous and bore us to tears. Sometimes, they are inconvenient and exhausting. Sometimes, we don’t even see the outcome of our work.

My grandma has some of the most beautiful flower gardens I have ever seen. However, her gardens didn’t just happen. Throughout the spring, she planted left and right. In the summer, she weeded and watered like crazy. But now, in the fall, she can see and enjoy her harvest, her beautiful array of flowers.

1 Corinthians 3:7-8
7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.

Thankfully, God doesn’t expect us to be able to grow the Holy Spirit in others. That is his job. No, he just asks us to join him in planting and watering the seeds. If we can be faithful with that, then what an incredible harvest we will get to enjoy!

Luke 16:10
“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

Questions:
Have you been overlooking or ignoring the little opportunities God is inviting you into? What is one small impact you can make today?

Next Steps:
Find a way to love someone today. It might not seem like much, but a compliment to a stranger, an encouraging text to a friend, or a card game with your kids can bring joy into their day.

Invite someone you know to Halloweekend or the upcoming At The Movies series in November. This is a perfect way to plant a seed in someone’s heart, whether they come or not!

Prayer:
Father, thank you for inviting me into your story. Help me step into my purpose, even when it seems small and unimportant. Thank you for being in charge of growth. I only need to trust you with my seeds. 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.


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Faithful Investments – The Vault

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This weekend, Ben Snyder unpacked the “Parable of the Three Servants (or Talents),” a story told by Jesus. In the story, a master who is going out of town gives each of his three servants the responsibility of managing some of his money while he’s away. He gives one servant five bags of silver, another servant two bags of silver, and the final servant one bag of silver.

When the master returns, the servants each give an account of what they did with the money they were given.

The servant given five bags of silver had invested it and now had ten bags.

The servant given two bags had invested it and now had four.

It’s a whole other discussion why the servants weren’t each given the same amount, but I want to focus on the fact that the master was proud of both of these servants—to each of them he said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:21, 23).

It wasn’t about how much they’d been given, but about what they’d done with it.

I might not be qualified to write on this—sometimes I’m embarrassed by how much I’ve been given. Growing up, I never had to worry about money; in college, my parents paid my tuition; and after college, they let me live at home rent-free while I found a job and saved up money.

I can’t take credit for what I have because I know it was given to me. Still, my parents are proud of how I used what they gave me, because I was responsible with it. Although they paid for my college tuition, I took my education seriously and graduated a year early. While they let me live at home rent-free, I put over 50% of my paycheck into savings for a down payment on a house. A lot was given to me, but I invested it faithfully.

My dad, on the other hand, was given much less than I. As the second youngest of twelve kids, he worked hard to pay his way through college and graduated without debt. After he and my mom married, they lived below their means and put extra money toward their mortgage so they could pay off their house early. As a result, they were able to help me so much.

It didn’t matter that my dad started off with less. He was faithful with what he’d been given—arguably more faithful than I was—considering where he started.

Now the third servant, who was given one bag of silver, did not invest it. He buried it in the ground to keep it “safe,” and although the servant gave back what he’d been given, the master was displeased.

I wonder how my father would’ve felt if I’d done the bare minimum in college—graduated without taking my education seriously—or if, while I was living at home, I’d spent all the money I earned on clothing or going out with friends.

I know my dad loves me unconditionally, but I think he’d have been disappointed.

The examples I’ve given involve finances, but the principle is not limited to money in the slightest. We must be faithful with how we invest everything we’re given—time, skills, intelligence, values, and so much more. This goes beyond what our earthly parents have given us. I know for some, that really isn’t much.

Fortunately, we all have a heavenly Father who gave everything for us.

1 Corinthians 6:20
…for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.

Questions:
What has your heavenly Father given you? How can you invest it well?

Next Steps:
Take inventory of the resources God has given you—not just your finances—but also your gifts and talents, the people in your life, your job, your strengths, etc. Evaluate how well you are using each of these resources.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the sacrifice you gave to save me. Thank you for giving your Son so that I may live—not just survive—but have a rich and satisfying life. Help me to use what you’ve given me in a way that brings you glory. 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.


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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Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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