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.


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.


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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.


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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John Reading Plan


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.


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.


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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.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

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John Reading Plan


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.


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
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


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.


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