Live Like It Matters – The Vault

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Give It All – The Vault

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Serve Others – The Vault

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Unexpected Acts of Mercy – The Vault

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


“Truth or Consequences” – The Vault

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan