The Humble Arrival of the Most High – Advent

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LIO Advent Edition: Day 15 of 15

Today’s wow-inspiring truth about God: God is humble.

I imagine by the time of the Christmas story, the people of Israel were getting quite restless. They knew all the prophecies about their promised Savior—they probably thought he would come in the form of a dashing hero, riding in on a white horse, ready to lead them in a revolution against their Roman oppressors. But the true story of their promised Savior’s arrival was far less impressive and far more humble than they ever could have imagined.

Here’s how Luke describes the Savior’s arrival.

Luke 2:6-7
And while they [Mary & Joseph] were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Not quite the triumphant entry people would have expected. In fact, had it not been for angels appearing to shepherds to announce his birth and a few wise men bringing gifts to the baby many months later, the story of Jesus’ arrival would’ve been completely uneventful. Even with the inclusion of supernatural events like angels coming on the scene, Jesus’ birth story subverted expectations, as no one would have guessed that the first people to hear about the arrival of the Messiah would be lowly working-class shepherds.

Jesus’ arrival subverted all expectations the people had about the Messiah, and it displayed his humility. Instead of showing up as a hero riding in on a white horse with pomp and circumstance, he showed up as a baby, with no fanfare. Instead of arriving in the palace or the temple, he arrived in a tiny town that didn’t have enough lodging for him and his family and was placed in a manger—an animal feeding trough. Instead of being introduced to royalty, his birth was announced to lowly shepherds. Instead of growing up in a palace, he grew up as a carpenter’s son in a place called Nazareth—a place that Nathaniel disregarded when he asked, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46b).

Jesus, the Savior of the world, arrived humbly, and he lived humbly. In all he said, in all he did, in whom he spent his time with, he was humble. And in his most humble act of all, he took on our sin and died on the cross in our place.

As Paul said when he wrote to the church in Philippi:

“You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8).

This Christmas, may we humble ourselves like Jesus as we reflect on all he has done for us.

Questions:
How would you have expected the Messiah to arrive?
This Christmas, how will you humble yourself in service to others?

Next Steps:
Attend a Christmas service, online or in person, to experience the Wonder of Christmas. Visit CedarCreek.tv to learn more about service times.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for humbly giving up your divine privileges to serve and save me. Help me to follow your example, and humble myself in service of others during this season. Amen.

Family Advent Activity:        
Throughout this Christmas season, CedarCreek’s Family Ministries will be providing us with some fun ways to connect with the Christmas story through Scripture readings and engaging activities. This will help prepare our hearts for Christmas and create great Christmas memories for you and your family. These Family Advent Activities will be located at the end of each LivingItOut devotional.

Today’s Activity: Read Luke 2:21 together as a family. Jesus’ name means “The Lord is salvation!” Share with each other what your name means. (Google is your friend for this.) Then share the story behind your name if you know it.


This post was written by David Hammack, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut Bible Study.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Filled with Love and Compassion – Advent

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LIO Advent Edition: Day 14 of 15

Today’s wow-inspiring truth about God: God is compassionate.

Have you ever seen Rembrandt’s painting “Return of the Prodigal Son”? It is a beautiful 17th Century illustration of God’s love.

The painting illustrates a worn and weary son, down on his knees, with the father’s hands on his lost son’s shoulders. Henri Nouwen, a modern author, wrote a description of the painting, in his book titled, The Return of the Prodigal Son. Of the father’s embrace, he says, “The dim-eyed old father holds his returned son close to his chest with unconditional love. Both of his hands, one strong and masculine, the other gentle and feminine, rest on his son’s shoulders. He does not look at his son but feels his young, tired body and lets him rest in the embrace.” God’s compassion is strong, holding us up, and gentle, bringing us peace.

The story of the prodigal son was first told by Jesus. Essentially, the story begins with a younger son asking his father to hurry up and die so he can have his inheritance. The father agreed, divided his money between his two sons, and the younger one went on his way. He partied, wasting away all of his money. And then he had nothing. The son returned home, knowing he deserved no mercy.

Luke 15:20-24 (emphasis added)
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’

22 But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.”

Just like the father in the story, our heavenly Father is waiting for us to return—every time we try to live without him. He is waiting to wrap his arms around us and whisper his promises into our hearts, reminding us he is full of love and compassion.

You see, Jesus came to earth to show all of God’s lost children that they can return, that God, our father so filled with love and compassion, is waiting for our return and eager to wrap his arms around us.

Questions:
What do you think of when you hear the word “compassionate”? What word comes to mind when you think about God? How can you remind yourself of God’s compassion? And how can you show his compassion to those around you?

Next Steps:
If you have tried to live on your own, return to your Father. He is waiting for you, filled with love and compassion! If you are more like the older brother, celebrate someone who has returned to God. Let the party begin!

Also, if you want something to read on your own (or need a last-minute Christmas present), the books, The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen, and The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning are great reminders of God’s extreme love and compassion.

Prayer:
Father, you lavish your love and compassion on me. I humbly praise you for this gift I do not deserve. Help me trust you, to turn to you every day, every hour, every minute. I cannot live on my own. I love you, Father. Amen.

Family Advent Activity:
Throughout this Christmas season, CedarCreek’s Family Ministries will be providing us with some fun ways to connect with the Christmas story through Scripture readings and engaging activities. This will help prepare our hearts for Christmas and create great Christmas memories for you and your family. These Family Advent Activities will be located at the end of each LivingItOut devotional.

Today’s Activity:
Read Luke 2:20 together as a family. What’s the biggest thing you want to thank God for right now (In addition to Jesus!) Share with each other and give God a giant round of applause.


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


God Knows Me – Advent

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LIO Advent Edition: Day 13 of 15

Today’s wow-inspiring truth about God: God Is omniscient—he is all-knowing.

Today’s wow-inspiring truth comes by joining two Latin words, omni (all) and scientia (knowledge). It means that God has all or perfect knowledge. What does it mean that God is all-knowing?

I think we can begin to grasp that God knows everything that is happening right now. But it goes beyond that. Our God is outside of time. That means that he knows everything that has happened, is happening, and will happen. He is not limited by our perception of time and space. If that doesn’t blow your mind, you’re not fully grasping the immensity of God. Not only does he know what is happening, but he also knows each person on Earth, past, present, and future, perfectly. He knows our thoughts, fears, desires, and hidden sins. Nothing is hidden from his spirit.

The Psalmist David wrestled with this truth when he wrote Psalm 139.

Psalm 139:1-4; 16; 23-24 (ESV)
1 O LORD, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O LORD, you know it altogether.

This realization should be humbling. God knows every thought that crosses our minds. He knows the depth of the depravity of our hearts and still loves us. Jesus willingly came to earth knowing the rebellion in our hearts. He came to give us an opportunity to forsake our sinfulness and be reconciled to God.

God also sees our days as a whole. He doesn’t see our lives as running along a timeline. He can see how we fit into his grand plan. In our culture today, there is much fear about how our choices can potentially save our lives. Countless people live in fear of their decisions and the choices of others. But if we believe that God is omniscient, we have no reason to fear.  David continues:

Psalm 139:16 (ESV)        
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Our days were numbered before we were born. God longs for us to live free from fear. Our lives are in his kind and gracious hands. Jesus came to earth so we could live in freedom. God’s omniscience should be humbling but also freeing. David finishes this beautiful Psalm this way:

Psalm 139:23-24
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

Questions:
In what ways does the idea of God’s omniscience bring you peace? How does it bring you shame? What can you do to embrace this realization in your life?

Next Steps:
When you find yourself afraid this week or feeling alone, read Psalm 139. God knows you and he has countless thoughts about you. You are perfectly loved by our Father. Use Psalm 139 as a prayer.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for being omniscient. Thank you for loving me in spite of my sinfulness. Thank you for numbering my days and carrying them in your hand so I do not have to fear what the future may bring. Help me to humbly accept the peace that this knowledge should bring me. Help me to live a life of hope since you see time as a whole and nothing surprises you. Thank you for your kindness toward your people. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Family Advent Activity:
Throughout this Christmas season, CedarCreek’s Family Ministries will be providing us with some fun ways to connect with the Christmas story through Scripture readings and engaging activities. This will help prepare our hearts for Christmas and create great Christmas memories for you and your family. These Family Advent Activities will be located at the end of each LivingItOut devotional.

Today’s Activity:
Read Luke 2:17-18 together as a family. Share your favorite Christmas movies with each other. Then pick one (or two!), make some popcorn, and settle down in Christmas PJ’s for a Christmas movie marathon.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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


Receive the Best Gift – Advent

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LIO Advent Edition: Day 12 of 15

Today’s wow-inspiring truth about God: God is omnipotent—he is all-powerful.

The word omnipotent comes from omni, meaning “all,” and potent, meaning “powerful.”

Creation is but one of many displays of God’s omnipotence. By the power of his word, everything was created from nothing. Multiple biblical references in Genesis 1 begin with, “Then God said…,” “Let there be…,” or “Let the….” Psalm 33:6 further records, “The Lord merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born.”

As we look through the lens of Christmas and the celebration of Christ’s birth, Isaiah’s prophecy, spoken hundreds of years prior, was fulfilled. “All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14).

Many lives change at the birth of a baby. A greater truth is the entire life of an individual can turn around upon deliberately embracing God’s greatest gift—his son, Jesus Christ—in a personal relationship.

For any distrusting readers, some of you undoubtedly have a backstory like mine. My personal testimony is proof that going to church was merely a religious habit for too many years. Call me a slow learner, if you will. (That description is accurate in this circumstance.) It is only when we choose to step into a personal relationship with God that the turnaround is possible.

I am forever thankful church attendance was a family activity in the home where I grew up. However, our church attendance was a reflection of my parents’ faith. While I believed what they believed, it wasn’t until I made the personal decision to embrace “their faith” for myself that I found the power to turn my life around. Indeed, the greatest miracle of God’s omnipotent power is turning sinner into saint. That level of power is nonexistent elsewhere.

This Christmas season, give yourself the best gift available—the gift of Jesus Christ. This precious gift is available to everyone. I can honestly say my whole life has turned around since I accepted it. I was lost, but now I’m found.

A baby changes everything.

Questions:
Have you experienced the turnaround available through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you believe God is powerful enough to change everything?

Has God been nudging you to reach out of your comfort zone into the lives of others? Who can you share the hope you have in Jesus with this Christmas season?

Next Steps:
Read these Bible verses about God’s omnipotence: Romans 1:20, Colossians 1:6, Hebrews 1:3a, Nehemiah 9:6, Colossians 1:7, Psalm 33:9, and Isaiah 44:24.

Listen to Faith Hill’s rendition of the Christmas carol, “A Baby Changes Everything.” It aptly describes the events surrounding the birth of Christ, as Isaiah prophesied.

Invite someone to attend a Christmas service with you. Service times can be found at cedarcreek.tv/christmas.

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, your omnipotence is a mystery. Forgive me, Lord, when I forget how powerful you are and when illogical attempts at understanding your ways and your purpose get in my own way. May I always remember you are God. You know the greatest needs in my life better than I can ever know. Empower me to rest in the never-wavering knowledge that you are a trustworthy, faithful God. I choose to worship you in spirit and in truth no matter the season of life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Family Advent Activity:
Throughout this Christmas season, CedarCreek’s Family Ministries will be providing us with some fun ways to connect with the Christmas story through Scripture readings and engaging activities. This will help prepare our hearts for Christmas and create great Christmas memories for you and your family. These Family Advent Activities will be located at the end of each LivingItOut devotional.

Today’s Activity:           
Read Luke 2:15-16 together as a family. Grab a gingerbread man, or other Christmas cookie, for each member of the family to place on their forehead. Race to see who can shimmy the cookie down and bite it first before it drops. No hands!


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and 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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan


We Worship the God of Details – Advent

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I now know whom my drive for order and love of statistics comes from—the one true God: the Creator of the universe, time, space … fish, animals, and, oh yes, us, to name a few. There is no end to the details involved with those endeavors, and since our Creator is the master of details, why shouldn’t I love them as well?

In his weekend message, Perrysburg Campus Pastor Josh Whitlow shared a plethora of details about creation. For example, the size of the sun—it is so big it takes up 99.86% of the mass of the solar system, and 1 MILLION Earths could fit inside it! Josh also told us our brains have 100 TRILLION neural connections, telling every inch of your body what to do.

Then Josh turned to this beautiful psalm written by King David, which begins:

Psalm 139:1-7; 14-17
1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.
2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do.
4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord.
5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!

Josh continued to read:

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!

Clearly, God knows you, loves you always, and has wonderful plans laid out for your life.

Equally important is to know that our God of details doesn’t make mistakes.  God made you original, uniquely gifted by him. “But for what?” you ask. The answer lies in this question: “Are you going to choose to learn what his purpose is for you or merely exist?”

Here at CedarCreek, we encourage you to answer with a resounding, “YES, tell me why I exist!”

Four Sundays a month, we offer GrowthTrack to help you take steps toward discovering your purpose. At GrowthTrack, you will uncover how your personality (how you’re wired), passions (what really matters), and place (where you are) all work together to make you one of a kind and  give you the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.

For example, I love to greet people. My God-given personality and passion allow me to make a difference as I stand at the doors of our church, welcoming people into God’s presence where we will join together to worship him and rejoice in his love.

Last weekend, Josh encouraged us to respond to God’s amazing details with worship. Serving others in the name of Christ is worshiping God—and one of the ways we can respond to his glorious, detailed plans for our lives.

Major W. Ian Thomas, in his book The Indwelling Life of Christ, writes “Jesus was fulfilling the role for which God created you and me: to live and act in the image of God, fully displaying the truth about him.” Christ is the Savior of the world! He is our example of what our love for God looks like in its perfection. So when we choose to be the hands and feet of Christ to others, we are living a life of worship.

Questions:
Do you see God’s incredible detail in his creation of the world? When was the last time you sat back and marveled at it?

Do you believe God has created you uniquely and has plans for your life?

Next Steps:
Complete the four weeks of GrowthTrack. If you’ve already completed GrowthTrack, prayerfully consider sharing your love for God and his love for you by joining a DreamTeam to serve.

Prayer:

Lord, I am overwhelmed by the enormity of your mercy and grace. They are a reflection of how much you truly love and value me. Thank you, Lord. We don’t deserve and cannot earn such love. But we can live a life of gratitude and service to you for providing the perfect sacrifice, your only begotten son, Jesus Christ, who by his death paid the price of our sin nature and lack of love for you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Family Advent Activity:
Throughout this Christmas season, CedarCreek’s Family Ministries will be providing us with some fun ways to connect with the Christmas story through Scripture readings and engaging activities. This will help prepare our hearts for Christmas and create great Christmas memories for you and your family. These Family Advent Activities will be located at the end of each LivingItOut devotional.

Today’s Activity:           
Read Luke 2:13-14 together as a family. Choose or make a special ornament for your Christmas tree that represents something good God has done for your family this year.


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!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan