Month: November 2019

Jesus Knows Us

John 4:27-30

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Written by: Brett Humphrey

When our kids were younger, I would whistle to call them when they were playing outside. I can whistle pretty loudly, and the sound would carry throughout the neighborhood. Our kids would drop what they were doing and come running. Even though our kids are adults, if I whistle the same way today, they still turn towards me. My kids know the whistle is mine and, I am calling for them.

Jesus knows us even better than my kids know that whistle. In this passage, Jesus revealed how much He knew about the Samaritan woman by what He told her about herself. She tried to hide who she was, but Jesus saw through her mask. Jesus is holy, perfect, and without sin and still desires to spend time with us, in spite of our trying to hide behind masks.

ITP-Devo11.15Thought of the day: When we allow Jesus to love us where we are, He will help us move to where He wants us to be. He is gentle, loving, and full of grace and truth. He will also show us the reality of the things He wants to change in our lives. When we let Him show us these things, we can bring others to Jesus—The same way the Samaritan woman did.

Prayer: Jesus, in this place, You will be faithful to all You ask of us. You will be faithful to forgive us when we turn to You. You will be faithful to show us You love us in spite of our past. You will be faithful to show us how you can redeem our past to help others come to know You. You will be faithful to teach us how to learn to live for You now and follow You for life. Please help me take off any masks I have so that I can be real with You. You will be faithful to show me truth and grace; please give me the wisdom to see the things you ask of me and give me the courage to do what You want me to do. Amen.

Flight, Fight, Fawn, and Freeze

Psalm 31:8-9
I will rejoice and be glad in your grace, for you see my affliction, you know how distressed I am. You did not hand me over to the enemy; you set my feet where I can move freely.

Written by: Chris Moss

You feel stuck—frozen. You can’t move. The world could crash down around you, and if that happened you might stand in the middle of it, paralyzed with fear.

Most of us know that fight or flight are our responses to fear. But do you know their lesser-known siblings: fawn and freeze?

When under distress, fawn tries to make everything better—she’s a real people pleaser! But when you, and others around you, are in distress, pleasing yourself and everyone else is an exhausting, impossible task. Fawn, as much as she tries, is not helpful with fear.

But freeze! Freeze stands in the middle of distress and keeps taking the hits—one after another. When you are in distress and you freeze, it feels like you have been handed over to the enemy. The chaos, the pain, and the affliction rise to the point of feeling like you are experiencing hell on earth. Freeze isn’t helpful; in fact, she’s lying to you.

Psalm 17:7 says, “Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.”

If we seek refuge from God in our distress, He, in His mercy and grace will help us find a place to move freely, to seek answers, to find miracles, to be healed, to re-build, and to experience transformation.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to live in joy and be glad in His grace. Isn’t that what we all want?

ITP-Devo11.14Thought of the day: God does not hand us over to the enemy. Our fear does not have to make us victims of flight, fight, freeze, or fawn. God’s refuge promises us mercy and joy.

Prayer: Father we come to you with our distress, our anxiety, our fears, our losses, and our disappointments. We offer you all our life circumstances that cause us pain, anguish, or grief. You don’t send us catastrophes, but when they happen, you provide us refuge if we seek it. We reject flight and fight, and their lesser-known sisters fawn and freeze. Instead, we seek Your refuge. We lay our distress at your feet and ask You to provide us with a place to move freely. Save us by Your right hand. Show us how we can fully experience Your mercy and respond in joy—because joy is elusive when we are in distress and we need Your refuge and joy now. In fact, we needed it yesterday. Please hear our prayer. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Knowing the Unknowable

Ephesians 3:16-19
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 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: Sarah Gauer

The other day I was trying to tell a friend about a hilarious thing that had happened when she wasn’t there. Unfortunately, the retelling lacked the context, mood, and feeling of the moment and resulted in a polite chuckle rather than the rolling on the floor laughter I had experienced when it happened. It was one of those “I guess you had to be there” moments.

Knowing Christ’s love for us is like that. It’s not something we can fully comprehend through scripture knowledge or second-hand accounts alone. To know His love, we have to experience it. We have to be there.

In his prayer for the Ephesians, Paul gives us an idea of how we can experience the fullness of Christ’s love: by submitting ourselves to the power of the Holy Spirit, letting Christ take up permanent residence in our lives, and being in community with fellow Christ-followers. As we immerse ourselves in Christ’s leading, we begin to know more of the unknowable width, length, height, and depth of His love.

ITP-Devo11.13Thought of the day: What step can you take today to immerse yourself in Christ’s love?

Prayer: Father: Thank You for Your love and care for us. Thank You for providing us space, relationships, and leadership at Sun Valley to meet, know, and follow You. Father, as our church continues to grow, I pray for the thousands of marriages that will be impacted by Your work through us in the communities we touch. I pray Sun Valley would serve as a place where strong marriages begin and a beacon of hope for those whose marriages are broken. I pray for the parents and families who will be influenced by our presence in their neighborhoods and entire family legacies of following and serving You will be established and solidified. May parents become better parents because they develop strong relationships with You at Sun Valley. May those who are lost find You here. Lord, let Sun Valley make a strong impact on families for Your kingdom for today and for many years to come. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Nameless and Unwanted

John 4:13–18
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Written by: Larry Van Laar

The story of the nameless Samaritan woman at the well, recorded in the Gospel of John, is full of many truths and powerful lessons. It’s full of lessons of eternal life, racism, gender roles, and social norms. But the one that stands out is Jesus’ ability to look at this woman and see the real person. He knew who she was, where she came from, about her sin, and about her brokenness. But most of all, he knew about her real need—which was not water to quench her thirst. She was an outcast of her own people and marked as immoral.

The story of this woman at Jacob’s Well teaches that God loves us in spite of our bankrupt lives. God values us enough to actively seek and pursue us. He calls us into a deeper understanding and intimacy in spite of where we’ve been, what we’ve done, or what’s been done to us.

As a result of this brief interaction, this woman learns there is a God who loves her and knows her fully. For possibly the first time in her adult life, she knows what it is like to be truly wanted and cared for when no one—not even herself—could see anything of value.

ITP-Devo11.12Thought of the day: Have you been there? Are you at the end of your rope? Are you struggling because of your own sin or the sin of others? Are you wondering how you will quench the thirst in your life that seems to be so elusive?

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13–14; John 14:6)

No matter what you’re dealing with today, Jesus loves and cares for you. Whether you’re living the dream or buried in circumstance, we all have a great need for the grace and love of Jesus. Stop what you’re doing and spend some time with Jesus. It’s where you belong.

Prayer: Lord: As our tribe of Jesus followers here at Sun Valley moves forward in obedience, it is our prayer You would bring thousands that do not yet know You. May they be pursued by Your Spirit to just come and see what You will do in their lives. Lord, will You make them aware of their greatest need—You? Lord allow them to come unhindered and help us to love them and help them to belong so they may believe, be baptized, and follow You. Lord, we are asking for the whole East Valley to find You in this place. May we change our city through Your Spirit, one soul at a time. In Jesus’ name, amen.

You’re Invited to the Party

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Written by: Michael Burgard

Growing up as a kid, one of my most cherished memories was being at my grandmother’s house for the holidays. She valued those days when all of our family gathered together. The disagreements we had or grudges we held against one another didn’t matter. What was important to her was that her family was together as one to celebrate the thing we all held in common: relationship.

Jesus teaches us a lot about the way we should live our lives, but He narrows it all down to two really important commandments: love God and love people.

The way my grandmother didn’t care what we brought to the party is the same way Jesus invites us into His family. He holds our sins and struggles on a much lower level than our personal relationship with Him. God knows we are broken and hurting. But that’s no excuse not to come to His party. What is important to God is that we get to the party and become a part of His family.

What Jesus is teaching us in this passage is that as long as we hold onto the things we have done wrong and hide them in the darkness, we will not be able to experience His perfect love. There is no fear in love because God’s love for us drives out all fear.

ITP-Devo11.11Thought of the day: No matter what you’re struggling with today or hiding from those around you, God loves you beyond your own belief. He also knows you won’t fully be able to experience His perfect love for you if you don’t let go of the fear your struggles bring.

What do you need to confess to God today so you can fully experience His perfect love for you?

Prayer: God: I ask You to help me truly understand the perfect love You have for me. Help me to learn that despite my struggles and sin, You’re still present and working on and in my heart. God, I ask for Your strength and wisdom in overcoming the struggles I face daily. Help me to release the things in my life I hide in the darkness because I’m afraid of what might happen. God, help me to know and love You more through what I experience in this place. Teach me to know Your word and wisdom in my life and that I have the ability to share it with those around me. God, I pray for Your presence to overwhelm me so I can walk in Your love for me today. Teach me I pray, amen.