From Mess to Message – Why Prayer…

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One of my favorite things about the Bible is that there are so many stories of God choosing the least likely individuals to accomplish his will. Reading how God uses these unlikely heroes is encouraging to us today. It gives us hope that God has a purpose for us no matter where we come from or what we have done. He wants to use us to accomplish his will, and he is with us to help us live out his purpose.

One of my favorite characters in the Bible is Moses. He was a Jew raised by an Egyptian princess, but he snapped after seeing how the Egyptians treated his fellow Hebrews whom they had enslaved.

Exodus 2:11-12 NIV
11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.

After this, Moses had to flee Egypt because Pharaoh was trying to kill him. Eventually, Moses settled in Midian, where he married Zipporah and had his first child. Despite this, he still felt as though he was a “foreigner in a foreign land.”

Exodus 2:23-25 NIV
23 During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24 God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25 So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

God hadn’t forgotten about the Israelites, and the time for them to leave Egypt was coming soon. God had a plan to get them out, and it involved using Moses to lead them. However, Moses wasn’t quite sure about all of this. In fact, when God appeared to him, Moses made every excuse not to participate in God’s plan.

Exodus 3:11 NIV  
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

As we read through Exodus 3 and 4, we see that Moses doubted he was worthy for the task God was calling him to. Who was he to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? In his mind, he was a murderer living in hiding. Plus, what would he say? He didn’t have any authority to demand anything from Pharaoh. He could tell him that God sent him, but why would Pharaoh believe him? Especially when he stuttered and didn’t have the right words to say. The more he thought about it and talked to God, the more clearly it became that he wasn’t the right guy.

Exodus 4:13 NIV
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”

God saw it differently, though. While Moses saw his life as a mess, God saw his life as preparation to give God’s message of deliverance.

This past weekend, Ben Snyder shared that God wants to take your mess and turn it into a message. Know that no matter your background, what you have done, and what mess you find yourself in today, God has a purpose for you and wants to use what you have gone through to make a difference. Today’s mess can be turned into a message of hope and deliverance to those around you when you give it to God and ask him to point you to the places he wants you to share your message.

Questions:
Which of Moses’ excuses do you find yourself using?

Do you believe that God can use your life to share his saving message with others?

NextSteps:
Think about your life today. Ask God to show you how your current mess or past messes in your life can be used for his Glory?

Take GrowthTrack this coming month. Mark it down in your calendar, and attend this September.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 19       
Dear God, we pray for our leaders—from local leaders to state leaders, national leaders to workplace leaders, to those leading schools and homes. God, I am thinking specifically of… (name a few leaders specifically). Grant our leaders wisdom in this unprecedented time. Bring success to every step that honors you and frustrate any step toward evil. Guide and protect them and bring clarity as they make difficult decisions day in and day out. Help me to extend grace and confidence to the leaders you have placed over me. Amen.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 20     
Dear heavenly Father, today we pray for our weekend services. We pray that every guest is open to receiving what you have for them this weekend. I pray specifically for… (insert names of those you have invited here). We pray that the message, worship, and every interaction they have with our DreamTeam points to you and helps them to see that they matter to you. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 21       
Dear God, today we pray for our churches. Guide us to be places of hope and healing to our communities. We humbly ask for you to help us meet the needs in our cities. Thank you for providing resources to help meet the physical needs in our communities, and help us point to you as the only one who can meet their spiritual needs. No matter what, use us to introduce people to Jesus and the amazing life of purpose he has for them. 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.


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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.


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Be Open to God’s Calling – Why Prayer…

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I grew up in the church. Involvement was mandatory. We had to be front and center for all to see. I ushered on Sundays, performed in Jesus Christ Superstar, and was given solos in the choir. Anyone who knows me in my adult season would be surprised by those things. So when the opportunity presented itself, I used it as an excuse to step away from the church. How can someone be so involved but feel so empty? My purpose was nonexistent, because I “played church” instead of living it out in my life.

Part of the problem was that I didn’t know about purpose, and the adults didn’t understand how to point the youth toward seeking meaning. My soul was malnourished because our souls are only nourished when we step into purpose. Like most people, I understood more as I matured. Finding purpose became an essential part of my life, but I struggled to find that in the church once again.

Fast forward a few years, and we found ourselves in Ohio. For the first time, I prayed to God to help me find my purpose in a place I didn’t want to be.

John 4:37-38
37 “You know the saying, ‘One plants and another harvests.’ And it’s true. 38 I sent you to harvest where you didn’t plant; others had already done the work, and now you will get to gather the harvest.”

A short season later, we found CedarCreek. This was the first church that emphasized finding purpose and had a system in place to help everyone discover theirs. When we pray, point me, we need to be open to playing the part God has called us to play in the story. Being open to playing is accepting the invitation, and it’s much more satisfying than being forced to play church.

Questions:
Have you ever asked God for something but weren’t willing to live it out? How does your soul feel when you know you aren’t where God is calling you to be?

Next Steps:
Ask God for vision in your request, and be faithful where he places you. Take GrowthTrack if you haven’t, or retake it if it has been a few years. Don’t allow pride to stop you from completing the work someone else has already started.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 18      
Dear God, today we pray for the life-giving message of Jesus to be spread throughout our world. We pray for churches everywhere to be places of hope and healing to their communities. We pray for the global movement of people serving you to be empowered and equipped to make a difference both today and for all of eternity. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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


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Pray for More Workers – Why Prayer…

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Think about what you pray about most often. For me, my most frequent prayers are for safety and guidance, especially as it relates to my kids and husband. Every time I pray in a moment of desperation or concern, I always feel God asking me, “Why am I only just now hearing from you?” But sometimes when I pray without an apparent crisis at hand, I find myself wondering what to say. And truthfully, there’s no wrong way to pray. I believe one of the purposes of prayer is to build our relationship with God, as opposed to a way to summon a magic genie.

Our bottom line from last weekend’s message was: Our soul is nourished when we pray “Point me.” A prayer that points us to purpose will nourish our souls.

Matthew 9:37 (emphasis added)
37 He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

I recently stayed at a small farmhouse through VRBO. The owner lived next door, and part of their barn and pond were located behind the property on which we stayed. Given that I’ve always lived in the city, this lifestyle fascinates me. Each morning, the owners were out early to feed their animals and let them out to roam. And at night, they returned to care for them. I noticed that when they took on the land and animals, they were committing to being all-in for this work.

Last weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder pointed out that in the verse above, Jesus knew that those who were tasked with harvest go into it knowing it will be hard work and the primary focus of their day. But instead of telling them in this metaphor to pray for relief from the work, Jesus told them to pray for more workers. He told them to stay focused on the task.

God wants us to go all-in with him, seeking to do his work and telling others about his love. When we pray, seeking to know our purpose, God changes us.

Change happens when we take steps on the spiritual journey:

  • Know God
  • Find freedom
  • Discover purpose
  • Make a difference

As he changes us, it changes those around us. He can take our mess and turn it into a message for others. Spiritual vision will allow you to see beyond just yourself.

Questions:
How comfortable are you in asking God to reveal his purpose for you? Are you ready to hear his answer?

Where would you say you are on your spiritual journey?

Next Steps:
Check out the book, The Jesus-Centered Life by Rick Lawrence. Here he maps out what life looks like when you focus on getting to know God.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 17
Dear God, today we lift up our nation. We humble ourselves, seek you first, and turn from anything that would separate us from you. Lord, give us the wisdom necessary to unite us. Let our nation be a light to our world and a testament to you. We pray this in Jesus’ name—amen.


This post was written by Ashlee Grosjean. Ashlee is a blogger at GratefulSheep.com and a stay-at-home mom and wife. She loves writing for this team, and she hopes to help convey God’s message through this 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:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


The Right Diet Plan – Why Prayer…

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Have you ever gone on a diet or through a health food phase? I’m not much for either of those, although, when I look at myself, I feel I should be. Oh, I’ve tried eating healthy many times, but I find it difficult to maintain—it’s hard work to give up some of the things I enjoy eating. I can go along well for a while, and then that desire, that craving for a delicious piece of pie or my wife’s home-baked cookies becomes too overwhelming to resist. Eventually, I give in and partake of the goodies.

So I failed at eating healthy again—what do I do? I don’t want to fail anymore, so maybe if I looked for a better, more rigid diet plan, read more books on dieting, sought out the help of doctors, and found all the dieting resources available—maybe then I could be successful.

Our  spiritual lives can look exactly like this. We feel like we’re living a good spiritual life and going along well, but then eventually, we struggle. So what do we do? We read the Bible more, go to church more regularly, and read more spiritually uplifting books. The problem with this strategy is when our only goal is to fill ourselves with more knowledge or content.

Lead Pastor Ben Snyder explained last weekend that what nourishes us isn’t more content—it is living out God’s will and purpose for our lives.

John 4:34
Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.”

Jesus understood the deeper truth. Just as protein nourishes the body, purpose nourishes our soul. Our soul is fed when we faithfully live out our purpose.

Had I only put aside my search for more content when I failed at dieting and sought to understand that proteins and a healthy lifestyle is all I needed, I would have been much more likely to be successful and satisfied. In the same way with my prayer life, if I seek to ask God to reveal my purpose and help me understand and live out his plan for me, I am much more likely to be successful and satisfied. Our soul is nourished when we pray “point me.”

Just as some people who want to diet can spend months planning and ordering the supplies they think will make them successful, we can sometimes put living out our purpose on hold, thinking we need more knowledge, more spiritual tools—that we just aren’t ready.

The truth is God has a plan and purpose for you, and he wants you to start living it now. He will guide you and not let you fail along the way as long as you follow his “diet plan” for your soul.

John 4:35
“You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest.”

Questions:
What does your prayer life look like?

Do you pray only in desperation or for your desires to be met?

Next Steps:
Examine your prayer habits. Seek to pray first.

Ask God to help you fulfill his purpose for your life.

If you feel the need for a stronger prayer life, seek out a prayer group or make the commitment to come to monthly prayer night at the church.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 16       
Dear God, today we pray for each city in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan. We pray for more and more people to know you personally and to live from that in their everyday life. We pray that because of you, lives are healed, purpose is discovered, and your Spirit pours out into our communities. Use us to be a light in all areas of our city—in our schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and beyond. In Jesus’ name, amen.


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


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
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RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


Point Me – Why Prayer…

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When do you usually pray? What motivates you to pray?

Maybe you’re like me: You sometimes/usually pray at the start of the day, asking God to help you keep your eyes on him, turn to him for all you need, and live out his purpose for your life …

… But then, as your day gets started, your focus drifts. Next thing you know, your eyes are glued to your to-do list, you’re trying to accomplish things by your strength, and all thoughts of God’s purpose for you have gone out the window. Hey, you’re just trying to make it through the day!

I know we’re supposed to “pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), but it’s a hard habit to build, at least for me. I’m so stuck in my routine and way of doing things that it usually takes something unexpected, shocking, or distressing to remind me to pray—and those prayers usually sound something like, “God, please take away this shocking/distressing thing, so I can get back to my routine!”

But what if God had a purpose for those unplanned additions to the day? I don’t believe all things happen for a reason, but I do believe God can use all things for our good—often to help us learn, grow, and strengthen our endurance. What if God wanted to use those shocking or distressing moments to reveal something to us or give us the opportunity to learn?

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God wants more than an ordinary, routine, or reactionary life for each of us. He wants more for you than just getting through the day. He has a life-giving adventure he wants to invite you into, one full of purpose and meaning. And some of the best opportunities to live out that purpose—to respond with the grace and love of Christ, to live out of the fruits of the Spirit, and to make a difference in someone else’s life—come in the form of shocking and distressing moments.

This week, I have a challenge for you—and for myself. When something shocks us and disrupts our routine, instead of praying for it to go away, let’s ask God for a better vision of how we can live out his purpose in that moment. Let’s make this our prayer this week: Point me.

If you want to experience the real thing—not an empty, repetitive prayer life, but a prayer life that nourishes you—pray for vision to see the purpose God has for your life. I believe God wants so much more for our lives—let’s step into it.

Questions:
When do you usually pray? What motivates you to pray?

When something shocking or distressing happens to you, how do you respond?

Next Steps:
Start today/this week by asking God to “point you,” giving you opportunities to discover and live out your purpose. When something shocking or distressing comes up this week (because something probably will), pause and pray that God would give you spiritual vision to see how you can live out your purpose and glorify him in those moments. Ask yourself how the person you want to be and the person God’s calling you to be would respond to that situation.

21 Days of Prayer: Day 15       
Dear God, give me eyes to see and ears to hear where you are calling me to share the great hope we have in you. Help me to be unashamed of your gospel, the good news about Christ. Give me boldness in sharing that you save everyone who believes—that you are the way, the truth, and the life. Amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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


Leave a Comment?

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


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