Month: March 2019

Upside Down for a Purpose

Philippians 2:13
For it is God who works in you to will and act according to His good purpose.

Written by: Shannon Swenson

Turning my life over to the care and control of Jesus required me to have a blind faith that turned my whole world upside down. Everything I believed about God and His people was totally different than what I had lived most of my life believing.

This realization came when I chose to let God be God. There are so many experiences that I have had with God since then that I can 100 percent guarantee did not happen by my sheer determination or will. It truly was and is the Holy Spirit and His will. Maybe you can relate?

Life change requires cooperation. It is not really about letting go and letting God. Really, a more accurate way to look at is to say, “Let God and let’s go.”

The power of the Holy Spirit is not designed to eliminate our responsibility to work hard, but to enable you and me to fulfill the work He wants to do in and through us—His will according to His good purpose.

I have a responsibility to work out my faith and that works hand in hand with His sovereignty to complete the work He has called me to do. He not only expects His followers to do His will, but He is within each of us as we do it. It’s His power, not my own. It’s His will, not my own.

Life change is a partnership. God has a part, we have a part, teachers have a part, and our fellow believers also have a part. It requires training to learn His word and truth; to practice the things that make us Christ-followers. Biblical teaching from pastors and other trained spiritual leaders and mentors also serve a purpose in the recipe for life change. Surrounding yourself with community and a family of like-minded believers can also make a huge impact.

The degree to which you and I yield to Him impacts the work He will achieve through us, and the changes He will affect in our lives.

19-Devo-3.29 (1)Thought of the day: Are you in a spiritual rut? Do you wonder why, although you are learning about Jesus, you are not living like Jesus? Are you engaged with others to help hold you accountable and celebrate life change with you?

Prayer: Father God, thank You that You never ask me to do anything that You don’t also supply the power and resources for. Thanks that You invite me into agreement and cooperation with You and Your purpose. Please remove the barriers of pride and self-will that stand in the way of receiving all that You want to do in and through me. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Follow Where He Leads

Esther 4:15-16
Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Written by: James Rogers

There is this wild truth in life: every now and then we are forced to face situations that are much bigger than we are. Sometimes those moments are scary and make us feel afraid. We rally our courage, but deep down we wonder if we have what it takes to weather the storm.

Today we come across a young woman named Esther. Esther was born into a regular Jewish family. She was known for her beauty and strong character. God used those traits, directed her path, and she became the Queen of Persia. As the story builds, we learn that there were evil men conspiring to kill all of the Jews in Persia. Esther’s cousin Mordecai challenged her to trust God and to use her position as Queen to influence the King and to save her people. We see her response in today’s passage.

Esther knew she would have to break the law to achieve her goal and that it might get her killed. Instead of running away from the problem, Esther stood up, put her faith firmly in God and became willing to die in pursuit of a solution.

In the end, Esther is successful and the Jewish people are saved, which is an amazing ending for Esther. Even though the book never directly cites God’s activities in these events, it is clear He was working in every moment and that the victory ultimately belongs to Him.

19-Devo-3.28Thought of the day: When things got tough for Esther she laid it all on the line and trusted that God would protect her and bring a resolution. What are you going through right now that God is asking you to trust Him with? Faith is not just simply hoping that God is good. It’s more than that; real faith requires action. God calls us to step out of our comfort zones for His purposes. What next step is God calling you to take in faith? I hope that you can see through the life of Esther that God will be there for you as you trust Him.

Prayer: Father, thank You for the Book of Esther and the powerful lesson of faith we can learn from her life. Thank You for leading our lives. Give us courage to stand up and follow where You lead. Help us to be the men and women You are calling us to be. May You receive all the glory. Amen!

Time to Move

Genesis 12:1-4
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.

Written by: Russ Ripley

My wife and I used to live in California, where my wife had what she would describe as her dream job as the children’s ministry director at our church. My wife also home schooled our kids and her family lived near us. I had a great job as well. All was good!

Then I was offered a new position within my company. This position required the individual to be “willing to relocate.” Why in the world would I want to do that when our life was so great? So, as Jesus followers, we prayed about it. And we prayed about it some more. We also talked together about what we thought God wanted us to do. Then my wife said something that changed everything. She said “Honey, is it really faith if we never step out?”

Oh man. Do I trust God enough to actually move? To take the risk, to step out of our comfort zone, and really trust God enough to do what He says. I do not know about others, but it scared me. To leave my comfort zone and follow what we believed was God’s will for our family was difficult.

God told Abram to “go,” and Abram went.

19-Devo-3.27Thought of the day: What is God telling you to do that you are struggling with? It might be to talk to a neighbor and invite them to church. It might be to call a friend and to pray with them. It might be to become a volunteer at Sun Valley. Or, it might be to go on a short-term mission trip. Whatever it is, “GO.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us to trust You. Help us to listen to what You ask of us and then give us the strength and courage to do it. We will give You all the praise and glory. Amen.

When All You’ve Got Is All You’ve Got

Psalm 73:25-26 New Living Translation (NLT)
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever.

Written by: Matt Swartz

A number of years ago my wife and I were living in California. We were going through a difficult time in our lives and it was putting immense strain on our marriage and family. In that moment, we felt like we couldn’t see a way out and we felt trapped.

When I got home from work one day and grabbed the mail, there was a card from a coworker in the pile. When we opened the card, there was a very thoughtful note and they had taken the time to write out this passage from Psalm 73.

I can remember standing in the kitchen reading these verses and knowing that, even though nothing had changed in our circumstances, something has definitely changed in our hearts. In one amazing moment, it was as if the power of these verses reminded my wife and me that even when everything feels out of control, it is not an insignificant thing to remember that we still have God.

When all you’ve got is God, that’s significant. It doesn’t magically make all the circumstances change or make everything in life perfect. It does remind us though that at the end of the day God is more than enough. When all we’ve got is God, it makes us desperate for Him. And in my life, desperation for God has made all the difference.

Where are you desperate for God to show up today in your life?

19-Devo-3.26Thought of the day: Can I invite you to do what my wife and I have done? Take a moment and write out these verses and place them in a spot where you will see them at different points of your day. Take a moment and make them your prayer.

The Path That Lies Ahead

Matthew 6:31–34
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Written by: Gina Rock

I often want to know all of the steps that lie ahead before I have the courage to take the very first one. I like to think of this as preparedness, but sometimes my desire for control and knowledge can be paralyzing. I wonder if you can relate.

Going in for a job interview wouldn’t be so nerve wracking if I knew the position was already mine. Deciding to relocate wouldn’t be so scary if I knew for certain there would be community and comfort waiting for me on the other side. Going forward with medical testing wouldn’t cause such anxiety if I knew it would lead to a clean bill of health. Trusting God would be so easy if He would do everything my way! Fortunately, that’s not how God works. While He doesn’t promise us a perfect outcome to all of our trials, He does promise to be with us and to go before us. That offers so much peace and rest to my sometimes-timid heart.

God knows our hearts and our struggles. Rather than spinning our wheels worrying over things we have little control over, He asks us to simply seek and trust Him.

19-Devo-3.25Thought of the day: Can you think of a time over the past week where God has provided for you or where God has offered you comfort when you needed it? Has God answered a prayer differently than you expected? When we take time to reflect on the ways He’s provided for us and cared for us, it strengthens our faith and trust will come easier in the future.

Prayer: God, thank You for knowing me and loving me. Give me peace in times I’m tempted to worry and help me to trust You more. Amen.