God’s Masterpiece – Why Prayer…

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Before God does work through you, he wants to do a work in you.

Find a quiet place and read that again. What does that mean?

Let’s unpack this a little.

Becoming a Jesus follower, while sometimes scary, is always exciting! God has promised that through his son we have new life, great hope, and an eternity with him. You may imagine all the great things you will do for Jesus, out of gratitude for what he has done for you. This is a good and logical thought, and it is true that Jesus has good things for you to do that he prepared in advance. But there are other things that must happen first, or much of what you do will be for you, not him.

Our world celebrates achievement. It celebrates all that you accomplish on your own. But that is not the way of Jesus. Do you really think that Jesus needs you to do anything for him? He is much more concerned with who you are becoming in the process. God loves you. He wants you to love him. He is more concerned about the condition of your heart than your agenda. For us to do the work he has assigned, we need to be connected to him. Ministry is an overflow of the heart. As we know God more and experience his love, we can’t help but share it with others.

Put your name in the blanks as you pray through this scripture:

Ephesians 2:1-10 (emphasis added)

1 Once [I, __________, was] dead because of [my] disobedience and [my] many sins. 2 [I, __________,]  used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us, [me included] used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By [my] very nature [I was] subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved [me, __________,]  so much, 5 that even though [I was] dead because of my sins, he gave me life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that [I] have been saved!) 6 For he raised [me] from the dead along with Christ and seated [me] with him in the heavenly realms because [I, __________, am] united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to [me] in all future ages as [an example] of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward [me, __________,] as shown in all he has done for [me, as I am] united with Christ Jesus.

8 God saved [me, __________,] by his grace when [I] believed. And [I] can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things [I, __________,] have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For [I, __________,] am God’s masterpiece. He has created [me] anew in Christ Jesus, so [I, __________,] can do the good things he planned for [me] long ago.

This is what prayer does—it connects us with the heart of God. In his heart are the things that matter. In his heart, he waits for us to connect our hearts to his. Prayer is what connects us to the things that eternally matter.

Questions:
Are you overwhelmed by the price that Jesus paid to save you? Do you realize, acknowledge, and repent the depth of your sin and what it cost him to redeem you? Can you imagine the glorious plans God has for you—that he would give his only son to get you back to seeking his heart?

Next Steps:
During the next few days, pray through the above scripture (Eph. 2:1-10). Be quiet. Think about what God has done for you. Think of how you can be in his presence and connect with his heart. Let these thoughts and meditations be the catalyst for the transformation God wants to do within you—from the inside out.

Prayer:
Lead me to everlasting. Lead me to things that matter. May the desires of your heart be the desires of mine. In Jesus’ name, 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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Don’t Stop! – Why Prayer…

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Do you remember playing “Red Light, Green Light” as a child? I remember playing many times. It was a lot of fun when there was a “green light” and you were able to advance toward the finish line, but as soon as “red light” was called, you had to stop. For me, that’s when it became difficult—just standing still, sometimes so close to the finish line, waiting for “green light” to be called again. I did not want to stop. I wanted to keep going to the finish line.

Imagine for a moment that your spiritual life is like that childhood game, and the finish line is the entrance to heaven. Would you want to stop at red light?

So easily, we get caught up in the messes going on around us and in our own lives that we become distracted from the purpose God has for us. We let life give us the red light, and we stop pushing toward that finish line. We stop doing the things we need to sustain ourselves in our walk with God.

Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared how he is convinced that your spiritual life stops when you stop. If this is true, I know I don’t ever want to stop until the day God calls me to cross the finish line.

These lyrics from Fleetwood Mac come to my mind:

“Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac

If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

So how do we avoid the red lights as we navigate through this crazy life? First, we need to recognize what really matters. Next, Pastor Ben encouraged us to do five things:

PRAY Boldly

LISTEN Open Heartedly

INVITE Regularly

SERVE Graciously

GIVE Financially

Pray for the vision to know what God’s purpose is for you. Pray “lead me,” and listen with an open heart for where he leads you. Invite people you know who don’t have a church home to visit CedarCreek, watch online, or to experience one of the many other opportunities we offer, like Groups and GrowthTrack. Serve graciously with joy and gladness in whatever capacity you have been led to do. And give back to God from what he has blessed  you with in your life. It is financial your giving that allows CedarCreek to offer so many opportunities to lead people to a life-changing adventure with Jesus.

Spiritually, doing one of these five things might sustain you for a year, and two may even sustain you for a few years. But when you invest in all five—WOW! Watch how God moves in and through you.

Is it going to be easy? No. We have all kinds of reasons to not do one, or all of them (those red lights again), but when you invest in what really matters, God will use it to grow you spiritually and use you to make a difference in the lives of others.

Don’t stop!

Questions:
Are you bold with your prayers?

Are you guilty of letting life’s red lights stop you spiritually?

Next Steps:
Attend GrowthTrack to discover your spiritual gifts and where you can use them to help others grow in their relationship with God.

Actively pursue the five steps given by Ben Snyder this weekend.

Join, or lead a Group of fellow Christians to help you navigate life’s red lights.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful that even though life has many red lights waiting to put a stop to our spiritual lives, we can find the answer in you. Help us to always seek you first through prayer, to pray boldly to lead us, and to keep pressing toward the finish line in living out our purpose to lead others to you. Amen.


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


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The Reason Why We Sing – Why Prayer…

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My uncle went into bars when he was 16-years-old. He probably could’ve made it in with his facial hair and his baritone voice, but a much older gentleman always got him into the establishments. They had a good time drinking, but their primary purpose for going was getting into fights. My uncle said they would frequently find themselves going two against five or more, and a few times, the crowds ran them out with guns. My uncle was a naive teenager. The other man was often angry and intoxicated—mix that with his boxing skills, and people feared his arrival. He had a legendary arrest record. Thankfully, I never met that guy.

My other uncle, who is 10 years younger than the previously mentioned one, told me about going on a cross-country trip with a friend and his father when he was a preteen. The father was an award-winning counselor and community leader, who even had the respect of my grandfather. I met this pillar of the community when I was in the fourth grade after he had given a speech about the importance of African-American men taking more leadership roles in our city. Part of his talk included how we can always be better than our worst mistakes. He proudly shared his story. It was a story of God’s grace that he couldn’t help but tell others.

Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder mentioned last weekend that the purpose of the church is to expose an unbelieving world to the amazing grace of God. When you witness God’s grace and share that story, it becomes a message of hope.

A few years ago, the younger of my two uncles thought about the cross-country trip he had taken in his youth. He remembered how surprised he was that my grandfather let him go without hesitation. When asked why, my grandfather said, “I knew Mr. Roberts at his worst, but I know him at his best. You can’t tell me God isn’t real.”

We all have a story worth sharing. When we have been saved by grace and God is working in our lives, it should be something we can’t wait to tell others about.  And as we do, we are answering God’s to share him with the world.

There’s a song that says, “Someone asked a question. Why do we sing? When we lift our hands to Jesus, what do we really mean? And if someone asks you, was it just a show? Lift your hands and be a witness, and tell the whole world, ‘No.’” By the grace of God, we all have an opportunity to be better than our worst moments. We should share those stories.

Questions:
Do you believe that part of God’s plan is for us to share his gift of grace? Do you hesitate to share your God-sized story? Has someone’s testimony changed you?

Next Steps:
Gladly tell the story God is writing in your life. Don’t stop at the grace God has given you. Give thanks by purposefully moving closer to God through reading his word, growing together with fellow Christians, and adding value to your community.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for continuously pushing me to be better, to share my story, and to be mindful of sharing the life-changing stories of the people who have touched my life. I pray that my children find value in the testimonies they continue to hear and that they carry them into adulthood. Forgive me when I doubt the authenticity of another person’s experience. Allow them to share it with me again. Amen.


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


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Ordinary to Extraordinary – Why Prayer…

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I love the phrase in Acts 4:13 where Peter and John are described as “ordinary men with no special training.” When we think of life’s purpose or making a difference in the world around us, we can be plagued by many doubts and insecurities about what WE could actually do. We play the comparison game and think, “I can’t teach like Ben Snyder.” Or, “I can’t write like Barb Roose.” Sometimes, we even minimize our influence by thinking,  “I could never lead people to Christ-like Billy Graham did” or “I could never move halfway around the world and reach native people like Jim Elliot.” However, if you were able to talk to any of these people personally, I’m sure they would tell you that they are just ordinary people, like Peter and John, willing to take a step of obedience to make a difference for the cause of Christ in the world.

Acts 4:13     
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.

They were recognized as “men who had been with Jesus.” When ordinary people spend time with and follow the leading of an extraordinary God, amazing things happen. When we try to do things with our own strength, we are limited, but when we walk closely with Jesus—seeking his power and purpose—we can make all the difference in the world.

Peter and John were filled with confidence and purpose because they had BEEN WITH JESUS. The same is true for ordinary you and ordinary me. When we spend time with Jesus, he commissions us with confidence and purpose, entrusts us with a message to share, and assists us in focusing on what really matters. Last weekend, Pastor Ben shared that God’s greatest work THROUGH you starts with a grace work in you.

Spending time with Jesus is not just a box to check off on your spiritual to-do list each day. Intentional time in the Word and in prayer, time with Jesus, empowers you to recognize what really matters, emboldens you to share what God is doing in your own life, and opens the door to make an extraordinary difference in your sphere of influence.

You + Jesus = An unstoppable, incredible, influential difference-maker.

Questions:
Are you plagued by insecurities or comparisons that inhibit your confidence to make a difference? How does the description of Peter and John as “ordinary people” encourage you?

Next Steps:
Peter and John were ordinary people who had BEEN WITH JESUS. Take steps this week to make that an intentional part of your daily rhythm. If this is new to you, start with 5-10 minutes a day. Read the LivingItOut or jump into the book of John or Romans and read a little bit each day. If time with Jesus is already a part of your daily routine, step it up and dig deeper into the study of the Word and/or consider helping others just getting started. (Hey, it’s a new Groups semester!)

Prayer:
God, I come to you with my insecurities and doubts. I am plagued by feelings that what I do doesn’t or couldn’t make a difference. Please help me, an ordinary person, to be connected to you and your Son, Jesus, through the Word and prayer. May that time with you catapult me into focusing on what really matters—making a Christ-centered difference in the world around me. Embolden me to share your message anywhere and in any way I can. I give you the GLORY for all that you have planned to do. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Kendra Grubinski. Kendra is passionate about her relationship with Jesus and loves studying and sharing God’s Word. During the week, she is a Spanish Teacher at Findlay High School. She also enjoys spending time with her family and pups, reading, traveling, drinking good coffee and being active outdoors.


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Praise Him in the Storm – Why Prayer…

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Sometimes life is just hard. Things we have looked forward to turn into messes, and it can be hard to catch our breath. Over the weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder finished the series, Why Prayer… He said that “knowing what is truly valuable helps us find purpose in a mess.”

So let me tell you about my week. Anna, my oldest daughter, is in the Navy and stationed in San Diego. Sarah, my other daughter, lives in Nashville and works in sales. I cherish any time we get to spend together, so I was excited when we all made plans to meet in Cincinnati, and Sarah was going to come home afterward to spend a week with her dad and me. The plan was for me to fly to Nashville on Wednesday to spend a few days with Sarah, and then we would drive to Cincinnati together on Friday to meet up with Anna, who was there for a wedding.

Sarah woke up Friday not feeling well, but we left for Cincinnati as planned. She was worried that she might have Covid, and although I wasn’t really concerned because we were both vaccinated, we agreed she should get tested. Imagine my shock when she tested positive.

I wish I could say I stopped what I was doing, prayed about it, and asked for wisdom and peace, but I didn’t. I was tired, miserable, stressed out, and overwhelmed. As it turned out, I would not get to hang out with Anna, and Sarah would not be coming home for a week. I was heartbroken. I rented a car and drove home Saturday morning alone. Eventually, I tested positive for Covid, and now I’m praying my husband doesn’t get it.

I’ve had a lot of time on my hands during my quarantine, and my faith has increased tremendously. I have seen God work his miracles, but most of all, I have felt his presence all around me.

My life this week has been a mess, not a catastrophe. I have two friends whose daughters died this week. Three other friends recently lost their parents. When I look at the world around us, there are many devastations:  hurricanes, Covid, Afghanistan, a divided country, a Navy helicopter crash (This hit close to me because my daughter Anna is a Navy helicopter pilot.) I am typing with tears running down my face.

Life is hard, but God.

We have a God who loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us. He loves us so much he wants a close personal relationship with us. He wants us to pray and share our hearts with him. He wants us to cry out to him just like David did:

Psalm 139:23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

The path to everlasting life is Jesus! I know God’s purpose in all of this is for us to show his love to others, especially during times of devastation. He wants us to act like Jesus did. He doesn’t want us to grow bitter, focusing on everything that is wrong in our lives and in the world. He wants us to surrender it all to him and let him fix it. He wants us to trust him and rejoice that he is always with us.

He wants us to praise him in the storm.

Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear your whisper through the rain
“I’m with you”
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I’ll praise you in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For you are who you are
No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

Questions:
How do you respond to storms in your life or in the lives of those you love? How important is it to surrender difficulties to Jesus? How can you praise him in the storm?

Next Steps:
Listen to “Praise You in this Storm,” and sing the words with your hands outreached to him. Pray for Jesus to show you someone who is going through a storm, and find a way to show Jesus’s love to them.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that you are always with me. I will trust you and praise you during every storm. Help me to surrender all my doubts, fears, bitterness, and worries to you. Help me to trust you and praise you for all your blessings. Help me to always remember that you are the path to everlasting life. 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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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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Receiving and Giving God’s Grace – Why Prayer…

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“Saying grace” is not something we do to “keep God happy,” Lead Pastor Ben Snyder said last weekend. “That is the opposite of grace.” Instead, grace is the unconditional love and forgiveness God has given us through the sacrifice of his only begotten son, Jesus Christ, so that we wouldn’t suffer the price owed for our sins. God has offered grace to all of mankind since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, it’s a gift most have rejected.

What is this grace Ben was talking about? It is the “undeserved/unearned favor of God.” So what does saying grace have to do with that? It’s a humble reminder to thank the one  we owe for all that is good in our lives, in our day, and at our dinner table. It’s a reminder that we aren’t God, and we owe our lives to him.

Then again, have you ever felt you don’t need to be forgiven? That the issue was, or is, someone else’s fault. This is what the Bible says about that:

Isaiah 64:6
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

Last week, I needed a reminder of how much I need God’s grace every day. In confidence, I shared some information and fears I had about one family member with another family member. She immediately told the other person what I had said.

I felt betrayed, angry, and embarrassed. In my opinion, the person I told did a cruel and unhelpful thing without my explanation and without concern for anyone’s welfare. After all, I was going to discuss this issue with our family member, myself, the very next day.

Worst of all, I felt I had failed God … again. I felt like all my sacrifices, works, and good deeds were hollow and for nothing, because I had failed to keep my mouth shut and, consequently, had damaged or even broken our relationship.

Thanks to my participation in six, 26-week Step Studies through Celebrate Recovery over the last six years, I knew the first thing I needed to do was apologize. I needed to make amends to the person who was hurt by my words. So I sent her a heartfelt apology text and asked for permission to apologize in person. That was two weeks ago … still no response—but healing takes time.

I am sad, yet encouraged by this incident. Why? Because God has forgiven me and is still teaching me about my use of words to vent my fears. Still, it is so hard not to feel like I failed God and this sister. My prayer is that my family member will forgive me—for her sake as much as mine.

So when you have sinned against another—and failed to love and behave as God loves and behaves—ask God to forgive you and apologize to the person you have wronged. But—you must not have any expectations that the one you make amends to will forgive you on the spot, or at all. This is between the wronged person and God, as the Bible tells us: “All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We apologize because God orders us to. We can only hope to gain forgiveness from the person we wronged.

2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

If you have been sinned against, remember that we all need God’s grace, and consequently, none of us has a right to refuse to withhold the forgiveness that he so graciously and repeatedly gifts us with.

Questions:
Why should I forgive someone who has wronged me? Why don’t I have a right to be furious and hold a grudge against the wrongdoer?

How does accepting God’s grace and passing it on to others affect me?

Next Steps:
We all want to be forgiven when we mess up. It’s time to realize God calls us to do the same for others as he has done for you. If there is anyone you have wronged, make it right.

Do a Bible study on grace, and spend time each day confessing your sins with God and asking him for forgiveness.

Check out a Step Study through Celebrate Recovery.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 26      
Dear God, today we pray to understand the next step you have for us. We want to be people who are always growing on the life-changing adventure—to know you, find freedom, discover purpose, and make a difference. Give us courage to keep growing, keep seeking, and be open to the ways you want to continue writing our life-changing adventure as part of your story. In Jesus’ name, amen.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 27
Heavenly Father, today we pray for our pastors. We thank you for them and their commitment to you and the church. We pray that you will bless them with vision, wisdom, and humility. Help them know and experience you today. Guide their steps as they lead the churches you have entrusted to them. Finally, we pray for their families. Protect them from evil and strengthen their relationships with each other and you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 28
God, we worship you for who you are and praise you for all you have done. Let our praise and worship be an offering to you, showing the world how thankful we are for your love and grace. Thank you for gifting us with music that touches our hearts and helps us express our joy for who you are. Thank you, God, for giving us a way to ignite our passion for you each and every day. Amen.


This post was written by Martha Smith, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study. Martha describes herself as a lover of Christ who likes to share faith with others.


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!


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More Resources

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John Reading Plan


You Have a Purpose – Why Prayer…

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Over the last four days, we have looked at the definition of grace and what it means to say grace, like when you are exhausted from trying to get it right, when you feel like you are experiencing something amazing, or when you feel angry and bitter. But last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder told us that probably the most important time to say grace is when you are evaluating what matters most.

When we look at our lives in our current circumstances—the place where God has put us in history and in our communities—we need to remember that our purpose is not about telling others how amazing our lives are (or all the positive things we post on social media). We need to remember that God pours his grace on us. As undeserving as we are, we have been forgiven. We are on a mission for God. Our purpose is to share the good news about the grace of God!

Pastor Ben said that Jesus started the church to expose the unbelieving world to THE GRACE OF GOD. CedarCreek invites unchurched people to join us on the life-changing adventure of following Christ.

Acts 20:24
“But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”

Paul continued the work of Jesus when he addressed the elders of the Ephesus church in Miletus on his way to Jerusalem. He had hoped to be in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost because he had missed Passover and wanted to show his loyalty to Jewish tradition. In addition, it was important for him to go to Jerusalem because he had collected money from various Gentile churches for the Jerusalem relief fund. More paramount was the fact that the Spirit had compelled him to go, even though his fate was uncertain. Despite warnings and his own fears, Paul refused to draw back from his cause of spreading the Good News about the grace of God.

Philippians 3:7-9
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

In verses 5-6, Paul gave reasons why he could brag about himself including the fact that he was of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews, a Pharisee, and blameless regarding the law. So how is it that Paul considered the reputation he had built up to be rubbish? It is through Christ, and Christ alone, that he found his worth. The day he accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior, he not only was cleansed of his sins but also gave up all his earthly accomplishments.

We too find our worth in Christ alone. So, we need to realize that our value has nothing to do with us or what we do. Our worth is all about Jesus and what he has done for us. He lived and died a tragic death so that we could be free from sin, for us to be called children of God, and to offer us a life in eternity. HALLELUJAH!

Questions:
Are you living for Jesus Christ and his word? If not, why? Where do you find your worth? Is it in your earthly accomplishments or in your relationship with Jesus?

Next Steps:
Write down what matters the most to you in life. Have you listed things that you think give you worth? Now, read Acts 20:13-38 to see how the Apostle Paul gives an account of how he is a great example to follow when evaluating what matters the most.

Complete GrowthTrack! GrowthTrack is a four-week experience designed to help you to take your first steps in discovering purpose. Find out more about GrowthTrack here.

Check out CedarCreek.tv/21days for prayer resources you can use throughout this season of prayer.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 25      
Dear God, we read in James 5:16 that we need each other to find healing. We confess that we often look for healing in many other places and we hide what’s really going on. Help us to see that when we are in community with others who love you, we’re right where you would have us be. We pray that every Group at our church would be a safe place where people can be real, experience deep connection, and find freedom and healing from whatever struggles they are going through. 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

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Gardening the Soul – Why Prayer…

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As we continued on the journey, Why Prayer…, last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder dove into the deep end of the business of every follower of Christ.  He had the audacity to say, “When you feel angry and bitter … SAY GRACE.” Clearly, he has not walked a mile in my shoes. He made it sound as though the burden is on me to offer grace to people in my life who have made deposits, by their actions and/or words, causing anger, resentment, and bitterness to erupt in my heart.

“When you feel angry and bitter … SAY GRACE.” There have been countless times when swallowing that pill has caused my gag reflex to quickly engage! Truth be told, were it not for personal spiritual growth and God’s grace, the ability to say grace would be near the top of my mental list titled “Mission Impossible.”

Possibly, that is true of you also. But, with the immeasurable grace God has offered me, I now clearly understand the benefit of offering grace to those best able to stir up anger and bitterness within me. To do otherwise is foolhardy. Bitterness not only corrupts me, it also corrupts others. Hebrews 12:15 speaks to this: “Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”

The failure to offer grace to others goes beyond reason. To be clear, we all are in need of the grace God offers. Should we not offer, with much generosity, to others the very thing we all are in desperate need of?

When left unattended, bitterness grows quickly. Bitterness will literally choke out the truth of God’s word when it is allowed to take up residence and given a chance to grow. It is for that reason, daily spiritual disciplines help keep spiritual weeds from taking over. When we choose to cultivate relationships by offering grace to others, God’s reputation is not tarnished. Conversely, God’s reputation is tarnished when followers of Christ fail to offer grace to others. May we never forget, without Christ we are nothing, and we have no good thing to offer without him.

Questions:
What keeps you from offering grace to others? What keeps you from digging deep and pulling out the poisonous root(s) of bitterness within? What steps do you need to take to keep the root of bitterness from reappearing?

Next Steps:
Step into “Grace is Greater” via RightNow media. When we grasp God’s grace for us, we are better equipped to offer grace. For a free subscription to RightNow Media click here.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 24
God, you show us, again and again, your heart for those who are far from you. Remind me that I was once far from you. Instill deep in me this passion: to do whatever it takes to love you and others more each day. Exchange my thoughts for yours. Rearrange my priorities to be of one mind with you. Change my heart, God. Help me see that when I am in step with you, it’s the greatest adventure of my life. Amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married over forty years. Karen rejoices over God’s faithfulness and God’s patience in her life and in her marriage. Nothing matters more to Karen than her relationship with God and her entire family. Her immeasurable faith in Christ and His ability to restore the broken runs deep within.


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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Amazing Isn’t Average – Why Prayer…

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I knew something special was happening, but the delivery was more than anyone expected. Mr. Carter started with a reverse 360 windmill. The night was over before it even began, but the show went on anyway. Each proceeding moment matched the momentum of the previous one.

That 2000 NBA All-Star weekend was my favorite. It’s the one where Vince Carter showcased his talent for the world to see in the dunk contest. And his nickname, half-man, half-amazing, was born.

Merriam Webster’s Dictionary describes amazing as “causing astonishment, great wonder, or surprise.” So why did Vince’s performance only garner half of the amazing title? There was no slight toward him, but it’s interesting. It’s like the person handing out the nickname knew that something completely amazing can only come from God. It’s perfect in its awesome wonder, which none of us can be. “When it’s amazing, it’s not average. It’s something that the average person can’t do. It’s something that they won’t do.”

Several times during my senior year in high school, the doctors told us my mom probably wouldn’t make it through the night. She got more time.

There was a time in middle school when a severe asthma attack stopped my sister’s heart for five minutes. She’s still here.

Our oldest daughter caused panic in the delivery room when she was born with no movement or sound. She’s as loud as ever.

I was so sick at the age of five that my mom feared she would lose me, but here I am writing this devotional. Sometimes medicine isn’t enough. Science isn’t perfect. Our uncertainty turns into an impossibility, but none of that matters to God’s grace. The experience is better than average. It’s amazing.

John 1:16 NIV
Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder told us that in light of our reality, God is so generous to us. The only thing we can do with a gift is to receive it. So say “thank you.” Say grace.

Questions:
Have you ever experienced something amazing in your life? What’s the first thing you did when that happened? Do you feel guilty when you experience God’s wonder?

Next Steps:
Say grace when you experience something amazing. Learn more about what grace is by reading your Bible or finding a study on RightNow Media. Start understanding that we as Christians aren’t more deserving than anyone else. We all need God’s grace equally.

For a free subscription to RightNow Media click here.

Check out CedarCreek.tv/21days for prayer resources you can use throughout this season of prayer.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 23      
Father, remind us that our children are a gift from you for us to share with the world. Continue to equip us with the ability to raise them to follow your truth and discover their purpose. Thank you for giving our children the best of our qualities without losing their individuality. Grant us patience when we feel our child’s rebellious nature pulling them from their path of faith. Let us not forget that we, too, endured a season or more of doubt, pride, or selfishness. Help us to trust you are at work in all things. Amen.


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


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


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Say, Grace – Why Prayer…

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Romans 3:23
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. 24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.

How you decide to respond to the above verses is the most important decision you have to make in your life. Your response affects your ability to have a relationship with God today, and it determines whether or not you will spend eternity with him.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared three postures that people take when responding. As you read through them, reflect on them and think about which posture you are taking today.

The first posture is a resisting posture. Hearing we fall short and that we are not good enough can be hard to hear, so in this posture, we decide to ignore it, telling ourselves it isn’t true. We lean on the affirmations we receive from those around us. Affirmations that say we are perfect just the way we are. We also lean on the assurances we tell ourselves. Sure, we make mistakes, but overall, we are good people.  In the grand scheme of things, we are not that bad. These affirmations are an attempt to minimize the reality of our situation.

The second posture we take is we religiously try to fix the problem of sin on our own. We recognize that God is perfect and we are not. There is a gap that needs to be filled, so we try to fill it. We go to church, read our Bibles, and try to do all the “right” things that we think please God, hoping that will make us acceptable to him. Of course, all these actions are good, but they will never bring us to God’s standard of perfection.

Ephesians 2:8
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 

The last posture Ben talked about was a posture of receiving. This posture recognizes the problem presented in Romans 3:23 but accepts and receives the truth of Romans 3:24. This posture focuses on the free grace God offers to you and me. It sees that God is a generous, loving God, who paid the price for our sins through Jesus’ death on the cross.

When we are in a posture of receiving, we recognize that grace is the free, unmerited favor of God. In this posture, we understand that there is nothing we can do to make God love us anymore … and there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less. Grace is a generous gift from God, offered to us in every circumstance of life.

To remember this truth, Ben encouraged us this weekend to “say grace.” Saying grace is trusting God’s generosity in spite of our reality. If you are exhausted from trying to get it right, say grace. If you have made a mess of things, say grace. If you’ve experienced something amazing, say grace.

No matter where you are or what you are experiencing, take a posture to receive and say grace as you trust in God’s generosity today.

Questions:
Read Romans 3:23-24. What does verse 23 tell us is true about everyone?

According to verse 24, how are we made right in the sight of God?

When it comes to Romans 3:23-24, what posture have you taken?

Next Steps:
Say grace. No matter the circumstance you find yourself in today, begin trusting God’s generosity.

Join Lead Pastor Ben Snyder as he leads Morning Prayer. You can participate by visiting any of our church’s social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 22
Dear God, I pray for your spirit to strengthen our marriages and families. You know exactly what each marriage needs, and I pray you would meet those needs. Allow our families to grow stronger, and help them to build their foundation on you. I pray that parents would represent you well to their children, and ask for your help in giving children hearts that grow in their love for you. Amen.


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