Month: October 2019

Day of the Living

Romans 6:4
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Written by: Kyle Stanforth

Today, especially here in the Southwest many of us celebrate Dia de los Muertos, which translates “Day of the Dead.” It is a day when we celebrate those who have passed away, particularly in the past year.

This week at Sun Valley, we celebrated baptism! Modeling after Luke 15, when something was lost (a coin, sheep, or son) and then was found, they threw a party. Here at Sun Valley, we celebrate baptism with a party like no other. Why? Because we have new life! I encourage anyone who attends our baptisms to get in the “splash zone” close to the front to catch a glimpse of the people’s faces as they’re getting baptized. Sometimes it’s joy. Sometimes it’s laughter. Sometimes it’s tears. But it is always a face of life change.YAFI-Devo.10.31

As the passage above from Romans reads, “We were buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

What a beautiful picture of death, burial, and resurrection! So, this week while many of our friends are celebrating “Dia de los Muertos,” we at Sun Valley we choose to celebrate “Dia de los Vivos” (Day of the Living)!

Thought of the day: Jesus came so we may have life and have it “to the full.” Does my attitude reflect someone who has been raised from the dead?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for Your grace. Through Your Son, I can have life abundantly. Give me the strength to be light in the dark places of this world. Help me to know I am in this world, but no longer of it. Thank You, Jesus! Amen.

As for Me and My House

Joshua 24:14-15
Then Joshua told the people: Worship the Lord, obey him, and always be faithful. Get rid of the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived on the other side of the Euphrates River and in Egypt. But if you don’t want to worship the Lord, then choose here and now! Will you worship the same idols your ancestors did? Or since you’re living on land that once belonged to the Amorites, maybe you’ll worship their gods. I won’t. My family and I are going to worship and obey the Lord!

Written by: Patty Esposito

He was larger than life to me—a gentle giant, of sorts. He wasn’t large in stature, but he was HUGE in my eyes. He loved me, prayed for me, sang to me, read to me, rode bikes with me, and even took me fishing. He wrote to me while I was a missionary child in Africa. When I came home, there was always rocky road ice cream waiting for me. I would follow him anywhere because I knew he loved me so much and he would shield me from harm. This earthly hero of mine was my grandpa Bill.

In his home, he had sayings written on the windows so outsiders could read them. They said, “Get ready, Jesus is coming!”; “A family that prays together, stays together!”; and, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!” My earthly hero taught me at a very young age to worship the one true God and not to be ashamed of Him. He would say, “Patty, Jesus is coming very soon, and we must be ready to face Him.”

Years have passed since I’ve seen my grandfather. He’s with Jesus now, but his wisdom and Godly heritage live on in my life and my family. Oh, how thankful I am for that rich heritage. But if I could say one thing to him now, it would be: “Gramps, thank you for teaching me and being a good example to me. I want you to know I’ve made Jesus my own! He’s the joy of my life. His wisdom is why I thrive. His faithfulness has never failed me. I will carry on with my faith and share my love for Him to the next generation.”

YAFI-Devo.10.30Thought of the day: Have you made God the Lord of your life? Do you follow no other but Him? Will you tell your children and your children’s children about what God has done for you?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, move in my heart today to desire You above all things and all others. Help me to follow You, live for You, and love You with all my heart. May I always see Your great love for me. Amen.

Almost Days

Mark 8:34
Then, He called the crowd to Him along with His disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Written by: Shannon Swenson

I can almost hear the gasps in the crowd when Jesus suggested that His disciples and the other folks in the crowd do something as shameful as to take up their cross. Back in that time, only the worst of the worst had to carry their own cross to their own execution. As with any crowd then and now, there were people who followed Jesus, people that almost followed Jesus, and those who were clearly not following Jesus.

In my own life, there are days that taking up the cross is so much harder than others. Maybe not outwardly, but inwardly. I am one of the people in the crowd who almost follows Jesus. I literally can have a conversation with Him that goes something like, “Really? You want me to do what?” On those days, I am not really a true follower. I am an almost follower.

Almost. As in, “Jesus, today I am going to treat You as if You are my plus one, not my only one.” Almost. As in, choosing to doubt God at words spoken in Jeremiah 29:11. Almost. As in, that might make me a little uncomfortable.

Taking up the cross implies dying to self, setting aside our own selfish desires and plans, and submitting ourselves to His authority as His disciple.

To be His disciples, we don’t have to be perfect or have a perfect track record of days when we are all in for Him. We just have to be committed to learning from the Master and doing what He says to do. Discipleship requires discipline.

If we are all honest, I bet when each of us has an “almost day” it is because we have not chosen to have daily, conscious contact with God in order to know His will for our lives. Hanging out talking to God requires discipline and dedication. When we follow Jesus, we get to find out who we are and who we are not. We get to find out our own unique qualities and gifts, as well as our limitations.

For me, the “almost days” are the days I get to check myself before I wreck myself. They are the days when I throw myself at the foot of His cross to ask for forgiveness and the strength to once again take up my cross and let Him be the Lord in my life. These days remind me I need a Savior and I have one. His name is Jesus. There’s no end to His mercy and grace for people like me who struggle with an “almost day” every now and again.

YAFI-Devo.10.29Thought of the day: What do you need to change to turn your almost days into fully following Jesus days?

Prayer: Father, thank You for Your mercy and grace. Thank You for your work on the cross, so that through You I can be reunited with You someday. Thanks that You don’t give up on me when I don’t get it right. I need Your strength. I need Your guidance. Help me to grow in love and discipline. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A Lesson from the Wisest Man

Ecclesiastes 12:13
Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

Written by: James Rogers

What would you do if God gave you all the money, power, and fame you wanted? What if He kept nothing back and you could do everything your heart desires? What might you find at the end of that exhausted path?

There was a man named Solomon who the Bible credits as being the wisest man to ever live. Solomon wrote a book after fully exploring his freedom to live as he pleased. What was his final conclusion? We should fear God and keep his commandments. He did it all and then comes back to tells us: Hey, God’s way was right after all; follow His lead.

The whole book of Ecclesiastes is kind of like a scientific paper on all the things Solomon tried and found “meaningless.” Nothing satisfied. Everything was just vanity in the end. The final truth was God is our source, He can be trusted, and we should follow Him.

YAFI-Devo.10.28Thought of the day: At the core, what is your life really about? Are you your own person with a little Jesus sprinkled in or do you wake every day consumed with a desire to follow Jesus?

Prayer: Jesus, give me wisdom like You gave Solomon. Help me to see how much You love me Help me to trust You with all I have. May I live for You and may You receive all the glory. Amen!