Who We Are Devotional & Reading Guide: An Introduction

Who We Are Graphic (jpg)

A daily Devotional & Scripture Reading will be made available each weekday over the next 6 Weeks for SRC’s new message series, Who We Are. Printed copies of the Devotional will be available at each location (Fairmont / Bridgeport). However, if you would like to receive an automatic email every weekday morning throughout the series, feel free to follow the blog (enter your email address on the right side of this page to follow).

A Brief Introduction to the Devotional:

The New Testament is full of letters from the Apostle Paul. He wrote letters to other followers of Jesus in many of the major cities throughout the Roman Empire. These cities include Rome, Ephesus, Colossae, and Corinth, among others. While the majority of Paul’s letters are full of love and encouragement, his letters to the Corinthians focused on three themes. These themes may be summarized by the phrases:

  • Embrace who you are
  • Embrace how to live
  • Embrace what’s next

Throughout the first six weeks of 2019, South Ridge Church will be focusing specifically on the first of these three themes. Additionally, this message series titled “Who We Are” also coincides with our annual Membership Matters booklet. As such, this Membership Devotional & Scripture Reading Guide has been designed to walk you through SRC’s Membership material. If you read through this Reading Guide with us over the next six weeks, you will not need to read through the Membership Matters booklet, as this Guide covers the same material. 

As we begin this new message series, we encourage you to:

  • Commit to joining us every week of this series
  • Commit to reading through this Reading Guide OR the Membership Matters booklet
  • Use a good Study Bible and/or other resources as you read through this Reading Guide. Some recommendations include the NLT Study Bible, the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, the ESV Study Bible, among others. Refer to https://southridgeblog.com/study-bible-info for more information on many excellent Study Bibles available today.
  • At the end of the series, commit to being a member of SRC throughout 2019

~Pastor Justin

Created to be an Ambassador: Day 5

Week 8 - Created to be an Ambassador

    Day 5: Created to Be an Ambassador

READING: JOHN 15:1-7

In just one sentence, summarize the main lesson you have learned throughout this message series. 

In what ways has this series helped you become more confident to share more about the story of God and the story of you? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 30-31

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

 

Please note: A new daily Devotional & Scripture Reading Guide will begin next week!

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Created to be an Ambassador: Day 4

Week 8 - Created to be an Ambassador

    Day 4: So Will I

Hillsong UNITED recently released a song simply titled So Will I. The intent of the song cannot be misunderstood – we are to worship God just as the rest of His creation does. More importantly, we are to love others, give of ourselves, and even surrender our lives to others just as God has done for us. Some of the lyrics throughout the song include:

If the stars were made to worship…so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence…so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness…so will I
If the wind goes where You send it…so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence…so will I
If You gladly chose surrender…so will I
If You gave Your life to love them…so will I

God has created you to be His ambassador. He has created you to proclaim the greatness of His nature. He has created you to serve others. Encourage others. Love others. Empathize with others. And to be with others in the same way that He left heaven to be with us. As you read today, consider this: What would it look like to live life in such a way that others see and know that no matter what, you are for them and with them? 

READING:

     PROVERBS 3:5-6, 23:26

What would it look like to live life in such a way that others see and know that no matter what, you are for them and with them?

Do you find it difficult to see others in the same way God sees them? Why do you think that is? 

Take action: Who is one person you sometimes distance yourself from? What is one thing you can do today to encourage them, perhaps letting them know you are for them and with them? 

Listen to So Will I by Hillsong UNITED

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 28-29

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that there are some people I have little to no desire to be with. Their attitude or foolish life decisions leave me frustrated and anxious, so being with them is a significant challenge. But today, I’m grateful for the reminder that You gladly chose to surrender for them. You openly gave your life to be with them. And because of who You are and all You have done, I commit to doing the same. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be an Ambassador: Day 3

Week 8 - Created to be an Ambassador

       Day 3: Never Going Back

We all have a past. For some of us, our past is full of poor decisions. For others, our past is full of the poor decisions and actions of others that have caused significant hurts in our lives. 

Despite what may have happened in your past, it is important to remember that it happened in-the-past. There’s no need to try to numb it by overworking. There’s no reason to think that what others have said about you can define who you are. There’s no reason to think that buying a bunch of cool stuff will lead you to forget about it. It happened, but for all who have trusted in Christ, that burden has already been removed and you can now live in freedom.

On an album by United Pursuit, they sing a lyric that is a wonderful reminder about this burden having been removed. They sing:

There’s nothing that I have need of
‘Cause there’s nothing You haven’t done
You make my soul alive
You put Your love inside

As you read today, consider this: What are some things you often do to try to feel alive? Does it work? 

READING:

     PHILIPPIANS 3:13-14

As you read today, consider this: What are some things you often do to try to feel alive? Does it work? 

Why do you think we often do things that don’t lead to feeling truly alive?

Read the first line of the song lyric in today’s reading one more time. How true is this statement in your own life? What steps can you be taking so that this can be regular mindset for you? 

Listen to Never Going Back by United Pursuit

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 26-27

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that many, many times I try to define myself in my work, or by what others say about me, or by the false belief that what I own will help me forget about the past. I’m grateful for the reminder that there’s really nothing – outside of You – I have need of. You have provided me with more than I could ever earn on my own. Today, I will truly rejoice that I am never going back! I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be an Ambassador: Day 2

Week 8 - Created to be an Ambassador

        Day 2: Persephone: Part 2 of 2

Dreaming about the person you want to become and the steps you hope to take to become that person is an essential aspect of spiritual growth. But it’s equally important to remember that God may refine you more through that process than you imagined. 

We see this reality in the lives of numerous people throughout the Bible. David expected to be a shepherd, and God decided to make him king. Mary expected to be a normal wife, and God decided to have her bring Jesus into the world. Peter expected to be a fisherman, and God used him to help Christianity flourish.

Of course, this level of spiritual refining isn’t something that only happened to those in the Bible. It happens today, too. 

In the third verse of John Mark McMillan’s Persephone, he writes:

When I was young I thought I would become
Someone different than who I find myself to be
But in my weakness I’ve come to believe
Who I am is greater than the man of who I once dreamed

As you read today, consider this: Do you currently see yourself as greater than the person you once dreamed you would be? 

READING:

     GALATIANS 2:20

Do you currently see yourself as greater than the person you once dreamed you would be? Explain your answer.

In what ways has your life story and the seasons you’ve experienced refined you to be a better ambassador of Christ? Be specific. 

Listen to Persephone by John Mark McMillan

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 24-25

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, it’s easy to see that the person I am today is not the person I once thought I would be. I confess that there are many times when life is not at all like I expected it to be, nor am I the person I sometimes thought I would be. But today’s reading has helped me to pause, reflect, and recognize that You have led me to be somebody who is greater than the person I once dreamed I would be. Today, I pray that You will continue to refine me so that tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, I will continue taking steps to be the greatest possible version of myself. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Created to be an Ambassador: Day 1

Week 8 - Created to be an Ambassador

           Day 1: Persephone: Part 1 of 2

In Greek Mythology, the goddess Persephone plays a significant role in the changing of the seasons. The ancient story inspired musician John Mark McMillan to write a song focusing on some of the life changes (seasons) he had experienced throughout his life. 

He noted that when he wrote this song, he was trying to explain the different seasons we all experience in life. For example, we experience seasons of living and thriving, but we also experience seasons of death and dying. Yet another season will emerge, and we once again experience life. This new life will be different, and more refined than the previous one.

Another part of meaning in the song lyrics comes from reminiscing about the past. McMillan says that far too often we think about the good old days. But those days are gone, and it’s best to accept the death of that season. He writes:

I don’t want to dance anymore
With dark nostalgia
I don’t want to hold hands with the dreams
Of a dead man.

As you read today, consider this: Is it possible that reminiscing on your past is hindering your ability to enter a new, more fruitful season in life? 

READING:

     2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21

In what ways have your past decisions and mistakes led you to believe that God would rather have somebody else be His ambassador rather than you?  

Is it possible that reminiscing on your past is hindering your ability to enter a new, more fruitful season in life?

Listen to Persephone by John Mark McMillan

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 19-20

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that there are times when I think about the good old days. There are times when I reminisce about my past, believing the lie that if my life were more like it used to be, it would be better. Thank You for reminding me today of just how far You have brought me. Thank you for reminding me that even though I have some great memories from my past, You have been refining me. I pray today that I can be confident to not be enslaved by ‘dark nostalgia’, but can instead see the more fruitful life you have laid before me. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be Salt & Light: Day 5

Week 7 - Created to be Salt & Light      

            Day 5: Created to be Salt & Light

READING: JOHN 8:12, ACTS 13:47

Based on this week’s readings, how would you explain to somebody else what it means to be salt and light in this world? 

What did you learn about the nature of God this week? About yourself? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 16-17

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

 

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Created to be Salt & Light: Day 4

Week 7 - Created to be Salt & Light      

            Day 4: A City on a Hill

In the ancient world, cities were built on a hill for many reasons. It was more difficult for opposing nations to attack a city on a hill. Those on the city walls could keep watch and see farther due to their height. But other than the typical military advantages, the light from within a city on a hill would light up more land. So the peasants and workers out in the fields would still have a clear view of the city as the sun began to set.

Jesus shared that His people were both the salt of the earth, as well as the light of the world – a city on a hill. While being the light of the world can be understood in many different ways, in our culture it could mean that you choose to speak up and show compassion in situations where others do not. It could mean providing for the needs of others; not just their physical needs, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well. It could mean allowing your light to shine so others know where to go for help and encouragement when darkness is entering their own life. It could mean…(you fill in the blank.)

As you read today, consider this: Who has been a light for you when you experienced a dark season in life? How did that experience prepare you to be a light in the lives of others? 

READING:

     ISAIAH 43:2, PSALM 121:1-2, LUKE 8:16

Who has been a light for you when you experienced a dark season in life? How did that experience prepare you to be a light in the lives of others?

Bringing it back: How has God uniquely created you to be an agent of change in your family? Your job? Your school? Has your answer to this question changed in any way throughout the week? 

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 13:17-14:31

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, today I thank You that for the reminder that I am a city on a hill. Not only have You provided me a significant spiritual advantage against Your adversary, You have also designed me to reflect Your light so that the darkness all around will be consumed. Today, I simply pray that Your light will be reflected in my life in such a profound way that even from a distance, people will see You and come to know You better. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be Salt & Light: Day 3

Week 7 - Created to be Salt & Light      

        Day 3: Preserve What’s Good

Today, we have a ridiculous number of food preservatives. If you want to have some fun, ask some friends to spell some of the words that are listed as ingredients on Twinkies or other Little Debbie Snack Cakes. 

The idea of these added preservatives is to preserve what is good. Other regular ingredients such as flour, sugar, cheese, meat, and more will rot or mold fairly quickly without the added preservatives. 

In the same way that salt helps different foods taste better, it also has the ability to preserve what is good. Salted meat will last a lot longer before beginning to spoil. Even beans, cabbage, and fish are often preserved with salt to prevent them from spoiling. 

In the same way that Jesus may be encouraging us to bring out the best in others, perhaps He’s also encouraging us to see and preserve the best in others. Maybe it even goes a step further. Maybe He is inviting us to always be looking for the good in others, no matter what may be visible on the surface. Counselor and author, Larry Crabb, has noted the importance of finding “delight in others, no matter what degree of ugliness we encounter.” As you read today, consider this: How challenging is it for you to delight in others, no matter what degree of ugliness you may encounter?”

READING:

     1 THESSALONIANS 2:7-12, PROVERBS 12:25

How challenging is it for you to delight in others, no matter what degree of ugliness you may encounter?

Who do you know who is currently anxious or worrying about something happening in their life? How can you be an encouragement to them today?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 12

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I confess that many times when I encounter the ugliness within somebody else, my initial desire is to run the other direction as quickly as I can. While I know that sometimes it is healthy to have safe boundaries in place, there are times I run the other direction when I could be patient and diligent in looking for the hidden good within them. Today I am simply reminded that even when I see the worst in others, You have created them. You have created them in Your image. May I continually see others through Your eyes. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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Created to be Salt & Light: Day 2

Week 7 - Created to be Salt & Light      

     Day 2: Making Life Taste Better

Today, there’s a lot of stuff we can put in our food to make it taste better. Salt and pepper are pretty standard. But we also have sugar. And fat. And don’t forget what may be the healthiest of them all…potassium benzoate! (Just kidding, of course.)

But in Ancient Israel, there were very few options. The primary go-to for food seasoning was salt. While salt adds quite a bit of flavor to any food, Jesus noted that if it loses it’s saltiness, it’s of no real value. But anyone who has spent time in the kitchen will tell you that if just the right amount of salt is added, its own flavor will also bring out the best flavor from the food. For those at the feast, it’s a win-win for everybody. 

Maybe one of the things Jesus was trying to teach His followers about being salt is that He desires us to bring out the best in others. And by bringing out the best in others, maybe life itself will taste better, not only for us, but also for those we interact with on a regular basis. 

As you read today, consider this: How will you encourage and bring out the best in others throughout the remainder of this week? 

READING:

     GALATIANS 6:1-3, PHILIPPIANS 2:1-4

How will you encourage and bring out the best in others throughout the remainder of this week?

How can others encourage and bring out the best in you throughout the remainder of this week? Is it possible God is inviting you to reach out and ask somebody to help or encourage you?

F260 READING: (A Scripture Reading Plan for Busy Believers)

Read: Exodus 10-11

Reflect: What did you H.E.A.R. from God today? HEAR Bible Study Method

PRAYER:

Heavenly Father, I want to begin today by thinking of a few people who have helped to bring out the best in me. Specifically, I thank you for bringing (name of person), (name of person), and (name of person) into my life. Their encouragement has impacted me in so many ways, and I thank You for bringing them into my life. Today, I simply pray for opportunities to bring out the best in others, and that You provide me the wisdom to know how to encourage them. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

 

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