Month: November 2019

God’s Grace—Pass It On

Matthew 9:10-11
While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”

Written by: Russ Ripley

Many years ago, I was the guy you would have never thought would ever go to church. I was mean, angry, bitter, and did many things you would not want your 22-year-old son to do. Most of the people I knew who went to church would not talk to me, let alone invite me to their church, except for one young lady I worked with. She had received the grace of God a year or so earlier and was not shy about sharing God’s love. We called her the “Holy Roller.” Her name was Cindy.

Cindy asked me if I would give her a ride to our company Christmas party. I had no idea why she would want to hang out with a misfit like me, but I said yes. I picked her up and we went to the party. After the party, on the way to her house, she began to share with me how much God loved me. We parked in front of her house for three hours and she continued to share the gospel—how God loves us and how His forgiveness changed her life. I was completely dumbfounded. No one had ever told me this. She continued to share her life with me and two months later, I too received God’s grace and forgiveness. My life has never been the same.

ITP-Devo11.29Thought of the day: Who do you know who you think God’s grace cannot reach? That person was me. Will you share the grace God has extended to you with that person? They may just need someone to share it with them.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the grace You have shown to me. Thank You for sending Cindy [or someone else’s name] all those years ago to share Your grace with me. God, I know that there are many people that just need someone like Cindy to tell them about Your love; to share their grace story. I know I sometimes think that certain people don’t want to receive Your grace but help me to listen to Your leading and share with those You bring into my life. I know You love them and want them to receive Your grace, just like I did. God, help me be a Cindy to someone else. Amen.

The Problem with Grace

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

Written by: Matt Swartz

I grew up in the era of cartoons of “Popeye the Sailor.” Don’t worry if you don’t know who he is, that is what Google was invented for. Anyway, there are a couple of lines that Popeye is known for. One of them is, “I am what I am!” No excuses. No explanation. He knew who he was, and he was not going to pretend to be something other than that.

When it comes to grace, I sometimes get into trouble because I know I am saved by grace through Jesus. Sometimes I get caught in trying to live my life on my own strength outside the grace of God. The problem with grace is we have to choose every day to live in it. We have to make the conscious effort not to follow Jesus in our own strength.

The Apostle Paul wrote the verse that we are looking at today. This is his version of Popeye’s statement, but with a twist. The statement of Paul is simply this: I am what I am today because God’s grace has invaded my life to give me not only forgiveness for my sins, but also an opportunity to live life differently! If we have said Yes to Jesus, then we are who we are because of who He is and what He has done. God’s grace in our lives is powerful because it shows the world that we are nothing apart from Him doing something in our lives that cannot be explained in human terms. How we live today impacts the lives of those around us and those that will come after us!

ITP-Devo11.28Thought of the day: Where do you need to see God’s grace in your life today? Who are you trying to be: someone trying to do life on your own or in the power of God’s grace?

Prayer: Jesus, we are grateful for the opportunity to worship You at Sun Valley. We are thankful for all of our campuses. We pray God that people will continue to experience your presence at all of our locations. We are thankful for these buildings and campuses that will exist for decades and generations. We pray for all who will be reached by the ministry of Sun Valley through these campuses for many years and even after we have passed away. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Humbleness of Grace

1 Corinthians 15:10
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Written by: Alfred Burgess

Grace is an activity that is part of God’s very character. It is not stable. Instead, it is a moving attribute of His nature that requires no action on our part. Or does it?

That action on our part is accepting His grace. It is accepting a gift we know we do not deserve. When I am offered a thank you or a friend tries to give me a gift I did not earn, it takes humility on my part to accept it. It is the same with grace. We must humble ourselves to accept the gift of grace God is offering so freely to us. We often say at Sun Valley, “Our problem is not we don’t love God enough. Our problem is we don’t realize how much He loves us.”

Paul knows that work he did was ultimately not his own doing, but through the grace of God.

We have but one action when faced with God’s lavish and overwhelming grace. We accept what is offered freely to us. There is an old church hymn that says, “Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace, freely bestowed on all who believe. You that are longing to see his face, will you this moment his grace receive? Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that will pardon and cleanse within; grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin.”

ITP-Devo11.27Thought of the day: Grace is a bow of the head and a humbling of the heart. It is an action, not just an attitude.

Prayer: Lord, I pray today I will accept all You have for me and receive it with a humble heart. I also pray for the future pastors at Sun Valley and all of the church throughout the valley, country, and world. I pray for church planters and missionaries who will go to impact communities across this country and around the world. We pray for You to lead them to the exact communities You have for them to expand Your kingdom. God, we ask for You to use us to support this work in a great way through and in this place. In Jesus’ name, amen.

The Gospel Is Personal

Mark 10: 48-52

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!
Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”
So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.
The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
 “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

Written by: Kyle Glenn

The perfect son of God, the one in whom all things were created (Col 1:16), is so personal that He cares about our greatest need. In Mark 10, Jesus has an encounter with a blind man while He is walking into Jericho. He was not in a hurry, but rather took the time to stop. Too often I am in a hurry and I miss what God has for me. But that’s not the case with Jesus. Jesus moves toward people everyone else has rejected.

Jesus hears him.
Jesus sees him.
And then Jesus calls him.
Jesus asks him a question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Think about this. If you were to ask this question of someone today, it would probably come as a surprise. Within that question is a self-sacrifice, others-focused, service mentality. It says, “I am here to serve you today.” (Mark 10:45) When God says He loves the world, it is a global statement, but it is also an extremely personal commitment to you.

Jesus hears you.
Jesus sees you.
Jesus calls to you.  

ITP-Devo11.26Thought of the day: What is your greatest need today? Share that with Jesus. Bartimaeus could have answered that question 1,000 different ways, but he goes after his greatest need—to see. Jesus already knew what his answer would be, but He wanted to give Bart the opportunity to express his faith. Not only did Jesus heal his eyesight, but He met his spiritual needs as well saved him through his faith—and Bartimaeus followed Jesus.

Sometimes, we pray for things that are going to happen anyway. What would it look like to pray big, pray boldly, and pray for the greatest need you have today?

Prayer: God, thank You for the lives that have been changed in this place. As a result, we praise You for lives saved, marriages healed, relationships restored, and addictions broken. You have set people free from the bondage of sin and death. We ask You for exponentially more of this.  We pray for the prodigal sons and daughters, that you would bring them home. We pray for addictions to be broken, in Jesus’ name. We pray that generational curses will continue to be confronted, and family trees will be radically changed in this place. In Jesus’ name, amen.

All People

Luke 2:10
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.

Written by: Gina Rock

If you’re not yet solidly in the season of candy canes, jingle bells, and Christmas carols, it’s just a few days away. Maybe your home, like mine, has a few nativity scenes set out as a reminder of what this season is really all about. I like seeing the cast of characters depicted in nativity scenes because it reminds me that Jesus came to save all people.

When the angels came, announcing Jesus’ birth to the shepherds, they didn’t proclaim to have good news that only applied to the religious crowd. They didn’t happen upon the shepherds by accident on their way to someone more important. No, they came to the shepherds on purpose proclaiming “good news of great joy for all people.” They were bringing good news for people as lowly as shepherds, for those with the greatest riches like the kings, for people like you, and for people like me.

ITP-Devo11.25Thought of the day: Sometimes we discount ourselves or others by thinking Jesus came to love and save only those more deserving. The very nature of God’s grace is that there is nothing we did to earn it. The good news of Jesus was meant to be shared and we get to help bring it to all people.

Prayer: God, thank You for sending Jesus to save us all. Thank You that we don’t have to be perfect to be loved by You. God, there are so many people in our communities, workplaces, and schools that don’t know You and don’t know that You love them just as they are. Would You give us courage and eyes to see those around us that need to be told the good news? Thank You that we get to be recipients and bearers of the great joy we have in You. Amen.