Kindness Transforms – What Our World Needs Now

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According to Merriam-Webster, metamorphosis is a “change in the form or nature of a thing or person into a completely different one by natural or supernatural means.” It’s a transformation from old to new. These changes can occur naturally in life, but sometimes, the person must want to leave the old behind.

Marriage brings about such a change, especially if you know you’re ready. I didn’t have any cultural preferences during my dating years. I didn’t know who my wife was going to be until five months before our wedding. Therefore, having a traditional African-American ceremony had never crossed my mind until my (forced) involvement in the planning. I like change, but I respect history. There’s something about certain traditions in all cultures that whispers to the hearts of our ancestors. It reminds us that their worth was priceless.

In keeping with tradition, “Jumping the Broom” had to be part of our union. The broom holds many meanings. It represents a couple’s new home or life together. The bristles signify the scattered African tribes/slaves, and the handle points to God who keeps us all together. Jumping the broom signifies the welcoming of a new beginning as the old parts that aren’t needed for your metamorphosis/transformation are swept away.

Our guest speaker, Pastor Ashlee Eiland, mentioned that God’s kindness is meant to transform our lives. So that we might see the truth about ourselves in light of who he is.

Romans 2:3-4
3 Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things? 4 Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? (Emphasis added.)

The Message, which is a paraphrased version of the Bible, says it this way:

Romans 2:4 MSG
God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness, he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.

Pastor Ashlee detailed the renovation of a house as an example of transformation. When we see an old house, we think about what a mess it has become. Why not tear it down and start from scratch? Well, why not show a little respect and kindness to the architect. Sure the house is old and outdated, but that house has good bones. Sometimes, a good transformation requires a little kindness and some restoration.

In the African-American community, we have spent generations transforming, reinventing, and restoring our rich and not-so-rich history. Our ancestors jumped the broom because slaves’ vows weren’t legally binding. They used traditions of their homeland to transform themselves before God, for their humanity to be restored in his presence. Pastor Ashlee explained that this is the power of God’s kindness and what our kindness can offer the world. It is not a weakness. It is not a Band-Aid to life’s problems, but instead, it allows lives to be changed and restored. It allows you to return to him.

Questions:
What are you hoping becomes transformed around you? Why? Do you see the kindness of others as a weakness or an opportunity to return to your original condition the way God intended?

Next Steps:
Remember the kindness shown to you and humble yourself to do the same for others. Participate in Serve Day to show your community how kindness transforms. This year Serve Day takes place on  July 17th and the Project Directory opens on July 3rd. If you are a Group Leader, plan a project with your Group.  You can register your Group’s Serve Day project here.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for speaking forgiveness into me. Learning to forgive others transformed me and restored my faith. It’s a type of kindness that turned me back to you. Although forgiveness now comes more easily, pride gets in the way, so humble me to remember that you blessed us with the best form of kindness in your son. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Kindness Preserves – What Our World Needs Now

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What is his problem? I kept asking myself this as one of my closest work friends just kept being derisive toward me, belittling me, and basically doing anything and everything he could to torment me at every turn while we worked. For a while, I just kept trying to ignore it, figuring it would stop. But it didn’t. Finally, I could take no more and walked straight up to him, looked him in the eyes, and said, “You’re being a real jerk today, and I don’t like it.”

Well, guess how much that solved the problem? Exactly, it only made it worse. Afterward, he seemed to have even more anger in his derisiveness toward me. Finally, at lunchtime, I approached him again—only this time in a non-threatening way—and said, “Hey buddy, I don’t know what’s wrong or what I may have done to upset you, but if there is anything I can do to help the situation, I would like to.”

At that point, he let out a big sigh and started apologizing profusely. He explained that I had done nothing. He had just had a tough night, and his morning hadn’t started well either. He also explained that he wasn’t happy with how our employer was treating him. I listened sincerely and told him I was sorry about his situation. I let him know I was there for him if needed. Amazingly, the rest of the day went great, and I felt a heavy weight lift off my heart. I imagine he did as well.

Ephesians 4:17-19
17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity.

My first reaction to my friend’s behavior came from a hardened heart, and his response was extremely negative. Last weekend, our guest speaker, Pastor Ashlee Eiland, shared that kindness is what the world needs now. Choosing kindness in stressful situations can not only preserve the hearts of others but also our hearts as well.

Ephesians 4:31-32
31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

When I approached my friend with kindness, all bitterness dissolved, our anger went away, the truth came out, and our friendship was restored.

Ashlee left this question for us: “What is your heart preserving?”

Is it keeping bitterness and anger fresh? Or is it keeping space for kindness even in the face of grievous offenses?

Questions:
As Ashlee asked, “What is your heart preserving?”

Can you remember a time when someone showed kindness to you in a stressful situation? How did that make you feel?

Next Steps:
Take an honest look inside your own heart.

Work on showing kindness as a first resort instead of reacting with anger or bitterness.

Find a Group with whom you can share your problems and receive support and kindness from others.

Prayer:
Gracious God, you set the ultimate example of kindness through your Son, Jesus. Help us to learn from that example and be more like him by preserving kindness in our hearts and leaving no room for bitterness or rage to dwell. Help us to show kindness to those we meet in our everyday lives and to preserve our hearts in joy, love, peace, and kindness. In your holy name we pray, amen.


This post was written by Ned Miller, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Kindness – What Our World Needs Now

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I was so excited when I learned our current series would be on the fruit of the Spirit. I want to overflow with his fruit. Unfortunately, on my own, I am selfish and self-centered. It is easy to forget that the Holy Spirit fills us with his fruit. We can’t produce his fruit on our own. We try and try to be better, striving to improve ourselves, only to fail miserably. We can only produce fruit by knowing God and letting his Holy Spirit change us. We learn to know God through prayer, Scripture reading and memorization, and interacting with other Christians.

Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self control. There is no law against these things!

During this series, we have focused on a different fruit of the Spirit each week. Last weekend, guest speaker Ashlee Eiland, teaching pastor of Mars Hill in Grand Rapids, Michigan, introduced kindness. She shared that kindness isn’t niceness. Niceness can be accomplished within the limitations of our own strengths and resources. Kindness is born of the Spirit of God and is a power beyond our own. Kindness is generous, lavish, selfless, compassionate, and merciful. Jesus is the ultimate definition of kindness.

As I was writing this, I thought, “Who is the kindest person I know?” Several people came to mind, but then I thought of my dear friend Carol from my CedarCreek Group. Carol spent several years caring for her mom who was ill. It consumed most of Carol’s time, but she always found an opportunity to reach out to the ladies in our group. She is gentle, compassionate, warm, and loving. She listens intently and really loves and cares for others. She is a prayer warrior and has a gift of sharing the perfect scripture at the right moment. I have been stunned by the mercy she shows to people. She is a godly woman who bears much fruit, all because she has a close and intimate relationship with Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I want to bear more fruit. We will look at the fruit of kindness over the next few days, something our world is in desperate need of. I challenge you this week to think about how kind God is to you. Praise him and thank him for being generous, lavish, selfless, compassionate, and merciful. Ask him to help you to be kind to others.

Questions:
How is kindness different from niceness? How has God been kind to you? Why should you thank God for his kindness?

Next Steps:
Memorize the fruit of the Spirit, and ask God to fill you with them daily. Journal about how God has been kind to you. Read the LivingItOut Bible Study (LIO) every day.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so overwhelmed by all you have done for me, and all you will do for me. I trust you. I am so grateful for your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self control. Change me, Lord. Fill me with the fruit of the Spirit. Help me to love others as you have loved me. Help me to bear much fruit. 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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Be His Church – What Our World Needs Now

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People tell me I’m a peacemaker—“a calming presence”—that just having me around can help defuse tense conversations. I like to think that’s because I have a strong inner peace that comes from my faith and trust in Jesus. But if I’m being honest, there are days when I’m not full of peace. There are situations that leave me anxious and unsteady, where I start to take my eyes off the source of my peace.

In those moments, the Life-Giving List we talked about yesterday really can help. For me, this can be activities like going for a walk, reading, journaling; it can mean places like my favorite parks, libraries, and coffee shops. But on my worst days, it’s my favorite people—my friends and family, especially those who have the same source of peace as me, that help guide my heart back to the right path. Because on my worst days, when my inner world is shaken, my own faith and efforts are not enough to fix it. I need someone to lovingly refocus my gaze on Jesus and his truth.

In short, when I’m struggling to be full of peace, I need the church—because on my own, I’m weak; but with other Christ-followers, I am strong.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

We’re not designed to walk this spiritual journey alone. The Holy Spirit is at work within us, producing good fruit in our lives, but he also does this through other people speaking into our lives, encouraging us when we’re doing well, and helping us refocus on him when we’re struggling. We’re also meant to help make a difference in the lives of other Christians by doing the same for them!

Hebrews 10:25
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

So if you want to experience God’s presence and peace, reach out to and spend time with other believers. The Holy Spirit is always with us, but he shows up in powerful ways when we gather with other believers as his church.

Matthew 18:20
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Questions:
Whom can you turn to when your inner peace is shaken, to point you back to the source?

We need these life-giving relationships even when we’re not at our worst, to help keep things from getting that bad and to strengthen those relationships for when things are bad. How are you making life-giving relationships with other believers a regular part of your life?

How can you help encourage the other Christ-followers in your life?

Next Steps:
Continue to meet with other followers of Christ as his church and build authentic relationships. This could look like committing to attend church in person every weekend (health allowing), joining a summer semester Group, serving on the DreamTeam with other Christians, or making plans to hang out with another believer.

Think of someone in your life who might need encouragement, and reach out to them.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the supernatural peace you make available to us through your Holy Spirit. We’re not meant to walk this path alone—help us to turn to others for strength and encouragement when we need it, and to offer strength and encouragement to those in need. I pray that we would be the church—peace-filled, life-giving representatives of you—both to other believers and to those who do not know you. Help us to turn to you for all we need and keep our gaze focused on your Son. May your will be done in us and through us. 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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Chain Breaker – What Our World Needs Now

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Last weekend, our campus pastors and guest John Ortberg spoke about peace as one of the fruits of the spirit. When it comes to peace, boy, do I need some tutoring!

There is a constant dialog in my mind and so many decisions to make. What should I do? How should I do it? When should I do it? Am I doing it right? Which way did that chicken cross the road?

That’s how it starts. No, I’m not talking about O.L.A.S. (Oh look, a Squirrel). Nope. Anxiety. Racing thoughts with no place to put them can really take a toll. It’s like carrying a chain with a link for every anxious thought. It gets heavier. It hurts. But that’s where God invites us to trust him and let him bear the weight for us; let him break our chains.

We don’t have to do it alone. God not only helps us but also puts people in our lives to lift us up.

Matthew 18:20   
“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”

Philippians 4:7-8           
“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

I love the bottom line for last weekend’s message: “Peace is a byproduct of God’s presence.” Sometimes God uses people, places, and activities to help us experience him.

That is why we were challenged to make a Life-Giving List. A list of things that we love. The people, activities, places, and things through which we experience God’s presence. Below is my list. Check it out and then think about the people, places and activities that help you connect with God.

People (Reach out more often.)   

1.         Ray – Leads Production at the Whitehouse Campus. I am a DreamTeam Member on his team
2.         Mike – He and his wife, Connie, led my wife and I through pre-marriage mentoring. Mike sends me daily devotionals.

Places

  1. My porch (outdoors in general)
  2. Church

Activities

  1. Music
  2. Art
  3. Sports
  4. Camping
  5. Driving

Questions:
What does your list look like? Where is God leading you this summer?

Next Steps:
Get involved in a summer group with like-minded folks who share your interests. Make a Life-Giving List and share it with some people you trust.

Prayer:
Father God, as we step into summer, may we be in awe of your creation. Lord, you’ve created so many ways through which we have opportunities to connect with you. May we be bold enough to step into these things and accept the breath of life you’re offering. May your peace be with us as we seek you daily. Thank You, Father. In the name of your wonderful Son, Jesus, we pray. Amen.


This post was written by TJ McCroskey, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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OWN It! – What Our World Needs Now

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Philippians 4:4-7 NIV

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

These were the first verses I ever memorized after I became a Christian, and boy, have they been put to good use in the years since! I loved listening to our guest speaker and one of my early mentors Pastor John Ortberg unpack these verses last weekend. (I used to listen to his messages over and over on my cassette player!) He reminded us that Jesus did not live a peaceful life, but he always lived at peace. I think we all realize it’s impossible to live without conflict, difficulty, and sorrow. But if we focus on God and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to abide in the peace offered through Jesus and his example.

When feelings of discomfort, fear, and insecurity come—and they will—Ortberg said to “own them, not enthrone them.” OWN is the acronym he used.

O – Observe It

What is going on in your mind? Pay attention to what’s going on between your ears and ask yourself some questions:

  • What am I saying to myself about this particular situation?
  • What am I saying to others?
  • What is the truth about this situation?
  • How do I feel about it?
  • Is what I’m feeling the truth?

These are really important questions. As I go through this exercise, sometimes I have to give myself a time-out until I get to the bottom of my feelings and assess their validity. Feelings don’t go away by stuffing them. As Andy Stanley has said, those stuffed feelings go into the basement of our hearts and lift weights until they emerge much stronger and more destructive than they started out!

W – Welcome It

James 1:2-4 NIV
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Our trials are not going to go away while we live on planet Earth, so look at them as an opportunity to grow and to learn. No one wants their faith tested, just as no one wants to work out for an hour every day. But those who willingly enter into that discipline know that the pain results in gain!

N – Name It

Name it for what it is. Ortberg reminds us that the psalmists were really good at naming pain—theirs and ours. So many of the psalms begin by crying out to God about poor circumstances: grief, illness, abandonment, physical pain, loss of friends and loved ones.

Similarly, we should name our feelings and share them with God. Take the time to write out your grievances and tell it like it is, just as you’re feeling it—the unfairness, the fear, the joblessness, the loneliness. Write your lament, or find a Psalm that is reflective of your feelings. You will find, almost without exception, that those laments turn into remembrances, and even celebrations of who God is.

So in your trials, remember to name the God who is with you, the God of peace. Pray your words to God, and thank him, knowing he is with you, he hears you, he is for you, and he is good. Then rest there with him. He will give you peace, no matter what your circumstances may be.

Questions:
When trouble comes, what is your first response? Do you pray as a first or last resort?

Next Steps:
Use OWN to work through the problems confronting you today. Observe what it is, welcome it, and name it. Then look in the back of your Bible (or do a word search in your Bible app) to see where that feeling or problem appears in Scriptures. Read those passages, and let the Spirit of God speak to you through them. Abide with those thoughts, and thank God for his presence in your life’s circumstances.

Check out this week’s LivingItOut Podcast as our Lead Pastor Ben Snyder leads a roundtable discussion on patience.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, forgive me that prayer is not usually my first response to the challenges of my life. But thank you for always being present for me. Help me to believe that you are for me and will never forsake me. Thank you for the gift of peace that dwells with you in my heart. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.


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The Joy Of The Lord – What Our World Needs Now

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The ball bounced against the blacktop about four or five times as I stared at the hoop. Then, finally, my breathing slowed, which allowed me to focus on the task. I was only 5’9 at the time, but I had hops. Before I knew it, my eyes were closer to the rim, and the ball flushed through the net. The elation from dunking the first time never equaled the others.

That’s how I used to describe joy, but there was a moment in the winter of 1997 when time slowed down long enough for me to witness pure joy. I strapped my niece into her car seat. She was less than 2 months old, and my sister had trusted me, an 18-year-old senior, with her care. I reached the nursing home, carried the delicate bundle inside, and watched as my sister gently placed my niece into my mother’s arms for the first time.

What comes to mind when you think of the word joy?

In last week’s LIO podcast, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said, “Joy is living from the place that my life is worth living.” Even when you feel empty, there is something so wonderful that can breathe new life into you. When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, God can provide you the necessary strength to keep going.

Philippians 4:4-5
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon.

Nehemiah 8:10c
“Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

James 1:2-3
2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

Theologian Dallas Willard defines joy as a pervasive sense of well-being. We are invited to not just rejoice but rejoice in the Lord—to have a pervasive sense of well-being because the God of scripture, Father of Jesus, is watching over us.

I think back to my mother holding my niece for the first time. She experienced everything in such a small moment. She figured out a way to work through the hard times because she found her strength in God. The joy she experienced that day was because she knew life was worth living.

Questions:
Where do you find joy? Are you empty if your joy comes from things?

Next Steps:
Find a way to work through the hardships in life. Seek counseling, pray, and live life with other Christians to keep you moving in the right direction. Watch last week’s LIO Podcast to gain more understanding about joy.

Prayer:
God, thank you for each new day. The fact that I’m here is a reason to experience everything to the fullest. I pray for those who feel like life is too much to handle. Let them see that you already know that life is too difficult to do it on their own. Finding our strength in you provides encouragement and allows us to experience a joy greater than any material thing can provide. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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The Only Source of Peace – What Our World Needs Now

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Peace is a byproduct of God’s presence. This weekend, Pastor John Ortberg said, “Peace is the byproduct of a soul that abides with God.” I believe most would define it differently. Instead, it would go something like this, “Peace is the byproduct of a life free of struggle and conflict.” But is that achievable?

Our struggles and conflicts often create anxiety in us. Ortberg shared that “anxiety tries to get us to predict the future and worry about it.” When we begin to think that way, the worst possible scenario and imagined likely outcome takes away any chance of finding peace.

While we want to experience more peace, we can’t have peace if we constantly worry. But how can we stop worrying when our world is filled with uncertain outcomes, fear, failure, and great loss?

One of the big takeaways from this weekend was that becoming a peaceful person requires living with unpeaceful feelings.

To make this point, Pastor Ortberg shared a few of Jesus’ life circumstances that would undoubtedly have caused unpeaceful feelings. In his first years on Earth, his family fled their home in Bethlehem to escape King Herod the Great’s command to slaughter  all the boys aged 2 and younger. This was in an attempt to eliminate Jesus.

Later, throughout Jesus’ ministry, he experienced hunger, thirst, and exhaustion as he served the multitudes. He grieved when loved ones died. Those close to him betrayed him, and ultimately, he was rejected, mocked, beaten, and crucified by those he came to save.

Yet, Jesus was a man of deep peace through it all. Theologian Dallas Willard said that if he had one word to describe Jesus, he would use the word “relaxed.” I am not sure that is a word people would use to describe me.

I currently have circumstances in my life that are causing unpeaceful emotions. These circumstances range from having a house that needs multiple major home repairs to having family members experiencing health issues. Anxiety has me thinking about everything that could go wrong. I realize that worry does nothing to improve these circumstances, so I tell myself to stop. That doesn’t work, though, because simply trying harder to experience peace doesn’t actually produce peace.

We learned this weekend that the answer to experiencing more peace in our lives isn’t to remove the feelings of uncertainty, fear, failure, or loss, but instead, to learn to have peace even while having these unpeaceful feelings. Over the next few days of the LivingItOut, we will look at Philippians 4:4-8 and how we can receive peace.

Philippians 4:4-8
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Where it starts, though, is with your connection to God. Peace is a byproduct of God’s presence. As Ortberg said, we are invited not to try really, really hard but to learn, instead, to abide in the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and today he offers you peace no matter what you’re experiencing.

John 14:27 NIV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Questions:
Who in your life would you describe as a person of deep peace?

Can someone experience a peace-filled life even if life’s circumstances are not peaceful?

Where does peace come from?

Next Steps:
Read Philippians 4:4-8. Write this verse down and carry it with you throughout the day. Then, ask God to open your eyes to what your next step is to experience the peace he offers.

Commit to reading the LivingItOut everyday this week, and be open to receive what God shows you through it.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, you are the provider of peace. I praise you because you bring calm to the storms in our lives. Forgive me for the times I try to gain peace out of my strength instead of letting it be a byproduct of my relationship with you. Thank you for being patient with me and for offering me the peace I need. As I go throughout this week, help me see how I can best connect with you and live out the truths from your word.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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


Children of the King – What Our World Needs Now

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As a little girl, I loved to dress up. With my costumes, I became all sorts of people: Princess Leia, Laura Ingalls, Belle, a prima ballerina, even an occasional superhero. But eventually, I grew tired of “being” those people and moved on to someone else.

As I grew up, I found a different way of dressing up. One year, I was the fastest girl in my class; another year, I was the top math student; a few years later, I was the biggest reader in my elementary school. But all of those changed over the years as well. Someone would outrun me, or read more, or get better grades in math. And after every change, I was left a little lost as to who I was.

The bottom line from last weekend’s message was, “Where you are LIVING FROM shapes what you are LIVING FOR.” When you live from the wrong identity, you are consumed with keeping up that behavior. You do everything you can to uphold your self-made lifestyle.

Instead, God gives us a different identity.

Ephesians 1:5
God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.

How amazing is it that we are the children of a King? A King who takes great pleasure in making us his own. God calls us his sons and daughters. The identities we tend to “dress up” in—boss, bookworm, artist, musician, athlete, chef—can all change. But the identity God has given us will never change.

Once we understand our never-changing identity, we are called to live from it. Knowing who we are in Christ gives us the freedom to love others, because they are God’s children just as much as we are. We can live from who God says we are—his sons and daughters.

It is so easy to get caught up in an identity apart from God. I hung a sign across from my bed to remind me of who I am.  It’s the first thing I see every morning. It says, “I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by this world. For my God is with me and goes before me, and I will not fear because I am his.”

Live from who God says you are, the child of a King!

Questions:
What are some of the identities you have been “dressing up” in? How can you remind yourself of who God says you are? Is there anyone in your life that needs to hear what God says about them?

Next Steps:
Find a way to remind yourself of your identity in Christ, like a sign in your room or a T-shirt. Look up some Bible verses that tell you what God says about you. As you go through your week, look for ways you can show God’s love to others.

Prayer:
Father God, thank you for adopting me into your family. What an extraordinary gift! Help me to live from my identity in you, as your dearly beloved child, not from identities I make for myself. You are the only thing that will never change. 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
John Reading Plan


Love God and People – What Our World Needs Now

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The greatest commandment is simple: love God and people. I think, sometimes, it can be over-complicated because we confuse from whom the source of love comes. Guest speaker Chris Brown talked about love—more than his love for fishing or my love for a hot cup of coffee. Love is simple because the source is from God. I say that because when we love, we confuse love with other things. In overcomplicating this commandment from God, we think the source of love is from something or someone. That is not the case, God showed us love first.

We love because God first loved us. As the source of love, God showed us love first by being our savior. It’s the reason for the gospel. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us so that we might know and receive his love, even when we did not deserve it. With Christ as our guide, we receive his love and show it to others. This is why love is an action, because knowing the source of love makes you want to share that with others. It comes from God saving us, not so we can “save” others, but this love gives others life.

Luke 10:25-27
25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?” 27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

Loving God and others gives life. When we love God and connect with him, it allows his light to shine through us. It is by loving God first that his  love shines through you when you do something  to love others.

Questions:
Do you overcomplicate God’s commandment?

Do you know God is the source of love?

In knowing that God is the source of love, what are you doing to love God and people?

Next Steps:
Make room for God by showing up in an intentional way in someone’s life.

Serve others by participating in Second Saturday.

Prayer:
God, get me out of the way. Remind me that I will not find a true source of love from someone or something, nor am I the source of love. Sometimes, I overcomplicate your commandment because I confuse where the source of love is from. You are love; you are my savior. I know that now, and so I pray that I will make room for your love, and through it, do something to follow your greatest commandment. Thank you, God, that it is simple: love you with all my heart—with everything I am—and love people. It is not easy, because we confuse love with other things, but I pray in knowing this truth that you would show me what love requires of me. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Rebecca Roberts, 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
John Reading Plan