Month: June 2019

Prompt a Radical Transformation

Romans 7:4-6
Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code.

Written by: Ian Rock

Our attitudes and actions say a lot about our hearts. The way we respond to others, eat, sleep, and spend our time can all be affected by our stress, relational health, and our connection to Jesus. When things are stressful at work, we’re often shorter tempered at home. In seasons of celebration, we’re typically way more graceful with others and see things as “half full.”

As we often say at Sun Valley: The problem isn’t with the fruit, but with the root. The output of our lives stems from what is happening in our hearts. Our ability to love others and live healthily comes from the peace and security we can have by knowing the love of God. When we begin to see how much God loves us and others, we’ll start to show that same love to those around us and live with the peace that Jesus can give us.

Today’s scripture also reminds us that our lives will be marked by our faith and the life change that we’ve seen since saying “Yes” to Jesus. Though we all will continue to have things in our lives that we can grow in, we can still live in a way that – through our words, actions and attitudes – shows others that there’s something different about the way we live, and for whom we’ll live.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can see radical transformation in our lives—not merely in the output, or fruit, but at the root. As we witness our heart and mindset begin to change, the way we respond to the world around us will change accordingly.

More Devo 6.28Thought of the day: What is one area of your life in which you’d like to see a transformation? It could be the way in the way you treat others, forgive others, handle stress, spend your time, view yourself, or something else.

Prayer: Jesus, when others look at my life and the way I act, my prayer is that they see a glimpse of You and the incredible love You have for them. I know I don’t always do the best job of this. I know that You can help change the root of my heart, so that the fruit I bear can help people meet, know, and follow You.

Tug of War

Romans 8:5-6
Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.

Written by: Marshall King

Remember growing up playing the game of tug of war? The objective was to pull the members of the other team across the line before being pulled across the line by the other team. Rope burns and sore muscles were part of the battle. In the end, the last team to survive was declared the winner. Who knew we were really being taught a life lesson?

Merriam Webster defines tug of war as: “a struggle for supremacy or control usually involving two antagonists.” In today’s teaching, the two opposing parties are our flesh (our own desires) and the Holy Spirit. Both influence our thinking. They are in conflict with each other. It is a daily struggle.

All of us are sinful by nature; our flesh is bent toward being sinful. Thank you Adam and Eve!   As Christians, we constantly face the choice to follow Jesus or to take a detour and give in to following our flesh. The worldview teaches us to live life to the fullest, fulfill the desires of our flesh, and ignore the consequences of making bad decisions. The reality is all of us suffer the consequences of bad choices. Unfortunately, it is part of the learning process, painful as it may be.

Paul teaches in Romans 12:2: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed [spiritually changed] by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Renewing our mind is made possible through reading and applying God’s Word. The Holy Spirit helps us understand and apply the teaching to our daily life. Our job is to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, obey, and remain in Jesus.

More Devo 6.27Thought of the day: Remember, God wants to bless you more than you can ask or imagine. He loves you as you are, not as you should be. In this life we will never be sin-free. As a Christian, focusing your mind on God and being controlled by the Holy Spirit should result in sinning less and living with contentment and peace. What fruits of the Spirit are you seeing in your life? What is keeping you from completely surrendering to the Holy Spirit?

Prayer: God, thank You for giving me Your Word and the Holy Spirit. Thank You for being patient with me and loving me during the times I choose to live according to the desires of my flesh and disobey You. God, please reveal to me any blind spots or offensive ways that are hindering me from being controlled by the Holy Spirit. I want to confess them and repent of them so that I may enjoy the fruit of the Spirit and the abundant life You offer through Jesus.  Amen.

Stay Alert, Be Firm, and Stand Strong

1 Peter 5:8-9
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

Written by: Patty Esposito

Are you ever discouraged or overwhelmed at the challenges that come day after day? Do you get angry, bitter, or saddened to the point where you blame God? I have in the past and probably will again in the future because of my human nature.

When you surrender your life to live according to the nature of God, there will be attacks!

Jesus Himself didn’t pray we would be removed or kept from hardships, trials, or suffering, but that we would stand firm against the evil one—Satan.

Jesus wrote in John 17:15 “I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”

Jesus wants us to stay alert, stand firm, and be strong in our faith. That’s the only way to fight off the “evil one.” We must not only read the Word, but study and memorize it, pray continually, worship God both corporately and individually, and stand together in unity. These are some of the ways to live a life led by the Holy Spirit.

More Devo 6.26Thought of the day: I challenge you to try it, test it, and see what God will do for you today.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help us as we fight against the powers of this world. Help us to stay alert, stand firm, and be strong in our faith because we know that Satan is lurking near, wanting to harm us. Don’t let us be fooled by the things or people of this world that want to lead us astray. Help us, Holy Spirit. Fuel us with Your mighty power. Amen.

You Can Handle The Truth!

John 14:6
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Written by: John Esposito

In the movie, “A Few Good Men,” there is an epic verbal exchange in a Marine military court between Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. The character played by Tom Cruise is interviewing the witness, played by Jack Nicholson, and says with strong conviction, “I want the truth!” To which Nicholson emphatically replies, “You can’t handle the truth!”

This reminds me of another epic courtroom scene where Jesus is being wrongly accused and is brought before the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate. You can read the dialogue between Pilate and Jesus in John 18:33-38. In verse 37, we find Jesus answering Pilate with strong conviction. “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus responded, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

In a court of law, the witness—when knowing they are telling the truth—can say so with clarity, confidence, and conviction. The Lord Jesus Christ tells us we can handle the truth when we put our trust in Him.

In fact in John 14:6, He describes Himself as the Way and The Truth and Life!

Then over in I John 5:11-13 we read:
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. The last verse says you “may know” with clarity, confidence and conviction that you belong to Him and have eternal life!

More Devo 6.25Thought of the day: When Jesus states that one of the very reasons He came here was to testify – to give His honest account of who He is, then He states with clarity, confidence and conviction to Pilate that, “You say rightly that I am a king.”

Prayer: Jesus thank You that when I place my trust in you, I CAN state the TRUTH with clarity, confidence and conviction that you love me and have given me eternal life. These things are written in order that I may know this.

An Antidote to Malevolence

Genesis 4:6-7
Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Written by: James Rogers

The book of Genesis tells the story of two brothers: Cain and Abel. In today’s passage, we find God talking to Cain. He says to him: “Why are you angry?”

Cain was extremely jealous of Abel and God was trying to talk some sense into him before things got out of hand. But pretty quickly his anger turned into full-on hatred. His jealousy had led him to hate God as well and, in a brazen act of defiance raising his fist to heaven, he beat his brother’s head in with a rock. Envy, then hatred, and then finally murder.

The story of Cain and Abel holds a promise and a warning. If we trust God and live by the Spirit, we will find rich and full acceptance in God. But if we aren’t careful, we risk formulating the type of malevolence that leads to all sorts of evil. Galatians 5:16 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The Bible offers us this mandate: we must rule over our propensity to do evil. Are we then left to struggle alone? No, God does not leave us. Through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, we are able to hold back our hands from sinning against our proverbial brother. We are able to move away from the immature and corrupt desires that lead to destruction.

More Devo 6.24Thought of the day: Sin is serious. What is crouching at your door?

This week, spend time asking God to reveal to you what He wants you to deal with. Pray and ask God for wisdom. Then walk in communion with the Holy Spirit. Regularly pray, read the Bible, and be honest about your unhealthy desires with Godly friends. It will help provide support and accountability. Boldly request God’s power to overcome the sin crouching at your door. Take a lesson from Cain’s failure and do what’s right before you walk down a path that leads to destruction.

Prayer: Father, please rescue me from the sin that so easily entangles. Protect, guide, and give me wisdom as I walk by Your Holy Spirit. Help me to overcome my flesh and do what’s right. Bless You, Lord. May You receive all the glory from my life.