Month: July 2019

Lord, Redeem My Mistakes

Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.

Written by: Patty Esposito 

Jonah is so much like me that it hurts sometimes. Instead of trusting and obeying God, I—like Jonah—want to run. I think, “If I can get away with it, no one will be disappointed in me.”

Sin takes us farther away from God. We run because we’re embarrassed, and we try to hide. We think we won’t be found out. How foolish we are! God sees it all. In fact, sin hurts Him so much that He has to look away. If only we would learn to run to God instead of away from Him.  How much better would life be? His arms are full of forgiveness, healing, comfort, love, direction, and wisdom.

C.S. Lewis said, “God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” Even though we, like Jonah, will face situations that bring us fear or are painful, God will bring us to the other side and redeem our mistakes. Hallelujah!

What I once was, I no longer am. I am blameless and free from accusation. I am forgiven, loved, and a child of the most high King. I have been sanctified and redeemed because of what Jesus did for me.

Jonah Devo 7.31Thought of the day: Is there any part of your life where you are running away from God when you should be running to Him?

Prayer: Father, help me live in a way that not only pleases You, but also shows the world You are my God, redeemer, and savior. Help me to run to You instead of trying to hide from You when I make a mistake, knowing You are the one who washes and purifies me.

Love Beyond Running

Ephesians 3:17-19
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Written by: John Esposito

Much has been said and written on the subject of the love of God the Father. God the Father in His very essence is love. In the letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks to those who have a relationship “rooted in love” to grasp the enormity of God’s love for us. The idea here is not just to acknowledge and accept the love of the Father, but to comprehend and meditate on just how immeasurable it is. It is great enough for Him to allow His one and only Son to display that love on a wooden cross—in pain and agony—so that we may not suffer the same fate. Instead, we have eternal life in Heaven because of it.

The author purposely uses measurable terms, “how wide, how long, how deep,” to allow us the perplexity of not really being able to measure an unending width, unending length, and unending depth while relishing in the thought of the unending love God and Jesus His Son have for us! We can’t outrun the boundaries of God’s love.

Jonah Devo 7.30Thought of the day: God’s love for you is immeasurable and unending!

Prayer: Father, hallowed be Your name. Thank You that Your love is so enormous that we cannot escape the boundaries of it. And because of that immeasurable love, I will dwell with You forever. How great is our God! Amen.

Who Is in Your Corner?

Jonah 2:7
When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

 Written by: James Rogers

Jonah missed it. He messed up. He ran from what God had called him to do and, swallowed in the belly of some massive sea creature, he was waiting for death.

When I imagine being in the stomach of a whale, I come up with more questions than answers, but I am confident of one thing: this had to be a torturous experience for Jonah.

If Jonah wasn’t claustrophobic before this encounter, he surely was after. Can you imagine the changing pressures and motion sickness that might accompany the creature’s abrupt movements? Do you think Jonah struggled to breathe as the oxygen level flatlined between the whale’s trips to the surface? Oh, and don’t get me started on the putrid smells of rotting food and stomach acid. How did he avoid death?

In this verse, Jonah admits that his life was fading away. He was dying and he turned and lifted his heart and prayers to God. He put his trust in his savior and God ended up preserving his life as the whale eventually spat the poor guy out.

There is a beautiful passage in the book of Psalms: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalm 121:1-2).

This comes from a song written by a guy named David that stemmed from some of the hardest moments in his life. When David was in his proverbial belly of the whale, he lifted his eyes to the mountains and asked for help. In that process, he learned again that God is good and that He can be trusted.

Jonah Devo 7.29Thought of the day: Where does your help come from? Who is in your corner when you encounter life’s difficulties? Jesus is and He can be trusted. Maybe right now you identify with Jonah or David, and life isn’t very fun. If you’re struggling, be encouraged. Our God is in control and the promise of scripture is that if you lift your eyes to God and submit to Him, He will come through for you. He might not always do exactly what you want Him to do, but He’s got your back, He loves you, and He can be trusted. This week spend some time with God. Tell Him about your concerns and your challenges. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer: Jesus, thank You for caring about me. Help me to lift my eyes to You to see where my help comes from. I give You my worries and my anxieties. I trust You in the middle of my struggles and pain. Be with me always, Lord. I remember You; I honor You. Bless You, Lord. Amen!

Remember. Remind. Repeat.

2 Peter 1:12-15
So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

Written by: Sarah Gauer

Recently I was talking to a new friend who I had asked to help lead and coach other volunteers here at Sun Valley. She told me about how 30 years ago some neighbors invited her and her husband to church. Politely, she had said “no, thank you,” over and over. But the neighbor just kept inviting them to different events or holiday services that she thought they may enjoy. Finally, one day, my friend decided to say “yes” to the invitation. It was Easter weekend and she and her husband heard the Gospel for the first time. They fell in love with Jesus that day and over the years since they have walked alongside many others who are new to following Jesus.

You never know what God might do with a simple invitation.

In the verses above, Peter is speaking to a group of Jesus followers about entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of God. Because of the eternal significance of this, he tells the group of believers that he will keep reminding them of it even though they already know it and believe it.

As we seek to be Jesus followers who invite others to join us, it’s important that we, like Peter, remember, remind, and repeat:

Remember what Christ has done for us. The more we are filled with awe and gratitude at what Christ has accomplished for us, the more it will naturally spill over into our regular conversations.

Remind ourselves of the basics of our faith. As we have a firm grasp of what we believe, that is fresh in our minds, the better we are able to share it with others. We will never reach a spiritual level where we don’t need to be reminded.

Repeat this process and repeat what we know to others. Let’s be remembered for reminding others of the goodness of God.

Jonah Devo 7.26Thought of the day: Take some time to remember what Jesus has done for you. Remind yourself of what it means to say “yes” to him. Who can you repeat this to this week?

Prayer: God, thank You for making a way for me to get to You. Without Jesus, I was dead in my sin and needed a Savior. But through Jesus, you have made a way for me. Help me to remember what You have done in my life. Help me to live my life for You. Please give me opportunities to share this Good News with others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The “Whole” World? Seriously?

Matthew 28:18–20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Written by: Larry Van Laar

When God called Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn them of their impending judgement and destruction, all of the pride of what being a Hebrew meant to Jonah welled up inside of him in complete rebellion. In Jonah’s eyes the Ninevites were the scourge of the earth. Not just pagans, but the worst of human garbage. They were the untouchables and to think that God would take interest in them was unthinkable. Have you been there?

As Christians, we know it’s not Godly or even polite to say out loud or secretly to ourselves that some people are just too broken, too lost, too sinful, or too evil for an all knowing, gracious, and merciful God to take interest in them.

This may even apply to someone who isn’t as evil as the Ninevites but worships a different god or comes from a different culture than your own. At some point or level, we have all thought this to be true about at least one individual or even a whole race. Why? Because we too are sinners of the greatest degree. We are more sinful than we can imagine and more broken thank we realize. Here’s the good news: our heavenly Father loves all of His creation more than we could possibly comprehend or imagine.

God’s love for His creation means all nations and all people. We don’t get to choose who Jesus bestows His grace upon. Jonah learned this the hard way. It doesn’t matter where they’ve been, what they’ve done, or what’s been done to them. That’s why this verse in Matthew is not merely a suggestion; It is a command from Jesus that all people matter. We are the ones called to tell them of this great news. If you are a follower of Jesus, it is your call. It is your mission to use the gifts God has given you to spread the Good News. It is the Great Commission.

Jonah Devo 7.25Thought of the day: We often judge others by their actions and judge ourselves by our intentions. We should look at others through the eyes of a Father who loves all of His children, whether their actions or intentions seem right to us or not.

Prayer: God, help me to see all of Your children through Your eyes. May my own self-interest not get in the way of what You want to accomplish through me. May I always be aware of Your leading and promptings through Your Holy Spirit. Amen.