Month: March 2019

Hope for a New Thing

Isaiah 43:18-19
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Written by: Danielle Morgan

No matter what you are facing today, be encouraged that there is a Holy God who loves you beyond what you can measure. He loves you so much that he promises to work ALL things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).

It’s really easy to feel the weight of our responsibilities, choices, and all the unknowns. But what if we decided to shift our focus? What if, instead of focusing in on what’s weighing us down, we embraced God with expectant hope?

Consider this idea of hope. And with it, expectancy. The Bible is filled with God’s promises of hope. It’s not just something he says—it’s a guarantee. This idea of expectancy is key because not only do we hope in the Lord, we expect Him to show up every time. We expect He will be there. We expect He will never leave us. We expect that as we hope in Him, we will soar on wings like eagles, run, and not grow tired, walk and not be faint. We expect He will make our paths straight. You see, His promises are just that: promises. So, expectancy should be a given.

We tend to lower our expectancy because we’re so used to being disappointed by broken people. But a relationship with Jesus is very different than a relationship with any other human being because Jesus doesn’t disappoint you. People are broken, and we hurt each other, even without trying sometimes. So, what do we do? We learn to lower our expectations and then we won’t ever be disappointed. But with God? That is the opposite of how we should come to Him. We should be coming to Him with expectant hearts. Expecting that the God of the Universe who loves you more than you could ever imagine is going to do as He said He would.

19-Devo-3.15Thought of the day: Where is your focus currently? Do you place your trust and hope in your circumstance or in a Holy God who loves you and is in control? What areas in your life do you need to let go of and give to God? Are there things in the past weighing you down? Consider today that hanging on to the past or a present situation out of your control is keeping you from being able to see how God is currently working in and through you right now.

Prayer: Jesus, I pray that my mind and heart would wait expectant on You as you direct my path in the coming year. Thank You for walking with me every step of the way and promising to never leave me. Thank You for Your promises. Open my eyes to see the new thing You’re doing in my life right now. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

For the Eyes of One

1 Kings 7:13-22
And King Solomon sent and brought Hiram from Tyre. He was the son of a widow of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in bronze. And he was full of wisdom, understanding, and skill for making any work in bronze. He came to King Solomon and did all his work. He cast two pillars of bronze. Eighteen cubits was the height of one pillar, and a line of twelve cubits measured its circumference. It was hollow, and its thickness was four fingers. The second pillar was the same.  He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars. The height of the one capital was five cubits, and the height of the other capital was five cubits. There were lattices of checker work with wreaths of chain work for the capitals on the tops of the pillars, a lattice for the one capital and a lattice for the other capital. Likewise he made pomegranates in two rows around the one latticework to cover the capital that was on the top of the pillar, and he did the same with the other capital. Now the capitals that were on the tops of the pillars in the vestibule were of lily-work, four cubits. The capitals were on the two pillars and also above the rounded projection which was beside the latticework. There were two hundred pomegranates in two rows all around, and so with the other capital. He set up the pillars at the vestibule of the temple. He set up the pillar on the south and called its name Jachin, and he set up the pillar on the north and called its name Boaz. And on the tops of the pillars was lily-work. Thus the work of the pillars was finished.

Written by: Larry Van Laar

If you’re like me, you see passages like this and either skim over them or simply move on. This scripture is more akin to archaic architectural plans than anything seemingly meaningful. However, it is as deeply meaningful to us today as it was to the construction of the temple in 970 B.C.

The temple, with the palace and courts, would take over 20 years to build at a cost of over 200 billion dollars in today’s market. It was a wonder of the ancient world. In this story, King Solomon employs a bronze worker named Hiram to construct two massive pillars that would stand over 35 feet tall and over six feet thick. This scripture goes into some detail about the art work that Hiram etched and carved by hand into the bronze: rows and chains of lilies, pomegranates, and lattice work. What is interesting is most of this intricate work would hardly be noticed. This detail would be over 35 feet in the air and overwhelmed by the enormous beauty and grander of the temple as a whole. Yet Hiram seems to be using his wisdom and understanding as well as his skills and ability for the eyes of one: God.

In today’s world, it seems everything people do is documented on social media for all to see and “like.” Yet here we have Hiram, over 3,000 years ago, setting the standard. He used all of the gifts given to him to glorify God. And because of his great service, his story made the Bible.

19-Devo-3.14Thought of the day: What skills and abilities are you using to glorify the Lord? How do you behave and what are the things you do in secret only for the eyes of God? What can you do today for the sole purpose of bringing Him glory?

Prayer: Lord, give me a heart that seeks to serve and glorify You. In all I do, may my worthiness be found in the eyes of one.

Be the Light

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Written by: Shannon Swenson

Sun Valley’s mission parallels to that of Jesus: to help people meet, know, and follow Him. We get to do that through being authentic, generous, and in community. We exist for the people around us who don’t yet know Jesus or have a misunderstanding of who Jesus is.

As a church, we just wrapped up our Next Chapter initiative, where we financially gave above and beyond our normal offering to be a light on a hill. The same light on a hill Jesus spoke about in Matthew 5. We are generous with our finances and time. Because of that, we can be used to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus in new environments for our kids, updated buildings and parking, and many other environments that are used to carry out ministry.

Lives will be changed because of His provision and prompting. His guidance and leadership will open the doors wide to our communities, friends, and neighbors who don’t yet understand what Jesus is all about. We get to do the work He called us to do so the light of Jesus can shine in and through us. Two-thousand years-plus after Jesus walked the earth, we find the mission and method is still the same. Be the light.

Generosity will have a part to play in other people finding out about Jesus and His great love. It is not about our works, but about His provision and light that lives in anyone who has said “yes” to Jesus. It’s the work of the Holy Spirit that convicts to be generous and on mission with Jesus. In what we give, He multiplies and is glorified for who He is. We are just the vessels He uses.

In The Message, the same verses read like this:

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Through authenticity, we get to shed light on the fact that Jesus didn’t come to save saints. He came to save sinners, and every single one of us falls into that category. We get to help people know they don’t have to have their act together, dress a certain way, or do certain things to know Jesus. As we move forward, God will continue to provide opportunities for us to be the light on the hill.

19-Devo-3.13Thought of the day: Are you sharing generously about Jesus with those who don’t know Him or are you stuck in your “holy huddle” rut of only loving the people who already know Him? What bold step can you take today to be light to someone who doesn’t know Jesus?

Prayer: Father God, thank You for the opportunities You have provided me to be a light for You. Help me to be courageous, authentic, generous, and move forward with holy boldness to help someone today feel the love of Jesus for the very first time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Slow Down and Practice Gratitude

Psalm 145:6–9
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.

Written by: Ian Rock

Welcome to another day. Whether you woke up naturally or to an alarm, you likely rolled over with that first deep breath of the morning and began thinking about what was ahead. For some of us, there’s a great excitement to each day, and for others that first breath is immediately followed by stress and fear. Regardless of how great or tough this current season may be, today is another shot to love and be loved.

Going through the Psalms can feel a bit like reading through our own thoughts. Our emotions, excitement, hope, and fear all vary day to day. The Psalms show us those ups and downs written out. One day, the psalmist may write a love letter to God. The next, it may be one of fear, abandonment, and being unable to hear or feel God. There is a constant theme that plays through the highs and lows of the Psalms—gratitude.

The writer models the power of celebrating what God has done in our lives and the lives of others. No matter what season we are in, it’s essential for us to slow down and practice gratitude. It aligns our perspective to where our help comes from and that God is the one who empowers the great things in our lives. At the same time, it can foster hope in desperate times. Reflecting on what God has done and how much he loves us can bring the peace of knowing that He’s able to do those great things again.

19-Devo-3.12Thought of the day: What are some of the things that you can be thankful for today? It could be health, family, peace, safety, provision, or a myriad of other things. Are there any areas you need God’s help?

Prayer: God, thank You for the amazing things you’ve done in my life and for the breath in my lungs today. Help me to make the most of today through loving You and others. Give me the perspective to know that, just as you’ve come through in the past, you can do the same great things again. Amen.

Take a Moment to Pause

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Written by: Robert Watson

This weekend we paused as a church and looked back on just a glimpse of all that God has done over the last three years.

Throughout the Bible there are these moments where God commands His people to pause and remember what He has done. He tells the people of Israel to set certain days aside as holy as an ongoing reminder of God’s goodness and faithfulness. It is from these “holy days” we get the term “holidays.”

One of the reasons God has His people pause and look back on the past is to give us courage moving into the future. It is so easy to forget about all that God has done and to just focus on the problems or challenges coming our way. Rather than being overwhelmed by all that we have going on or anxious about what may come next, God invites us to be still. He invites us to look back on His hand in our lives and all around us so that we may have confidence in whatever comes next.

Take this moment to pause and look back on all that God has done in your life over the last three years. Is there any trial that God walked alongside you? Is there any moment of blessing or provision? Is there an area that God caused growth in your life or your relationship with Him?

Pause, look back on what God has done, and offer a prayer of thanks as we move forward in confidence toward whatever may come next.19-Devo-3.11