Month: November 2019
But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.
Written by: Ian Rock
Paul, the writer of Galatians and much of the New Testament, didn’t exactly have the background you might expect for someone who God would use to assist in writing the Bible. His past was dark. Aside from the typical ways we all miss the mark on God’s best for us, Paul actively taught and fought against the Gospel. He sought to persecute the early followers of Jesus, even to the point of harming them physically.
When Paul had his powerful encounter with God, it was a beautiful moment of redemption. Regardless of his past, God still invited Paul to say Yes. On top of that, Paul’s gifts, passions, and abilities were given a new and powerful purpose.
It would be easy to look at Paul’s past and assume he would be disqualified from God’s love and ministry. The Gospel is bigger than that. No matter what Paul had done, who he had hurt, or what he had thought about God, God’s love was bigger.
The same is true for all of us. Whether it’s “big” things in our past or daily inconsistencies, God doesn’t give up on loving us. One of the most powerful ways God works through us is in the redemption of our past. Things that once brought shame are now pointed to as ways we have experienced freedom. Hurts, whether by us or to us, are now opportunities to experience and tell of God’s great forgiveness.
As long as we have breath in our lungs, God isn’t done working in and through us. Celebrate that by speaking life into those around you today.
Thought of the day: What are some areas in your life you’d like to see God bring new purpose to? Are there any areas from your past you still hold onto? Do you feel like they separate you from Him?
Prayer: God, I’m so grateful for all You’ve done in my life. Thank You for loving me and giving me new purpose. As Sun Valley prepares for the next five-plus years, I know our impact will reach farther than the East Valley. I ask that you continue to give us great opportunity around the globe to serve those who are in need. Thank You that we will have the chance to clothe, feed, serve, teach and build homes for thousands around the globe. I also ask that you begin prompting the hearts of those who will be the ones on those serving teams. Thank You for allowing us to be a part of Your kingdom’s work around the world.
Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish. He said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me! You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves. Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’ I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head. I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! As my life was slipping away, I remembered the Lord. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.
Written by: James Washburn
Jonah ran from God, and he ran as hard and fast as he could! He ran right into a terrible circumstance right into the belly of a huge fish. Can you picture him there sitting in the stomach of this odor-filled fish with stomach acids eating at his flesh and seaweed wrapped around his body? Jonah felt like he was at the end of his rope with nothing left, so He called out to God for mercy at the lowest point of his life.
Did Jesus abandon him? No. It’s never too late to cry out to God! This is not a pretty picture, but God had the big fish vomit Jonah out of his stomach onto a dry beach. His life was spared. He was given hope once again, including another opportunity to be obedient to God’s call on his life to deliver a message of hope to the people of Nineveh. You can read about the amazing result of the people turning to God in Jonah chapter 3.
Your circumstances don’t have to dictate your cure for hopelessness. The promises of God and the hope He provides by always being present in our lives brings a peace unlike any other. He is a God who is always there, ready to hear and help us in times of need. It’s never too late. No matter the distance between you and God, there is always hope found in Him.
Thought of the day: Are you feeling hopeless today? Identify what is making you feel that way and realize through Jesus you can renew hope in your life! The next step would be to take action! Check out sunvalleycc.com/next-steps.
Prayer: Jesus we are asking You to do something only You can do in this place. We are asking for people’s lives to be so impacted by the Gospel at Sun Valley that they will be excited to engage to make a global impact and send more people out to make a global difference. Open our eyes to needs and use us to help people meet, know, and follow Jesus in our community and around the world. Broaden the scope of our impact in this place. In Jesus’ name, amen.
But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.
Written by: Courtney Flocken
It’s easy to think the disciples had it easier—breaking bread, doing life, and roaming the streets with Jesus. They were literally homies with Jesus! He had 12 disciples, three of which were in His inner circle. Could you imagine being a part of that inner circle? Somehow that has to make life choices easier, right? Well, I think if we could pass the mic to Peter, who infamously walked on water only to later deny Jesus not once, twice, but three times, he would enlighten us. Following Jesus is always a choice that exposes where our hope resides.
Jesus assured them before His fateful day on the cross that it was better for Him to go. Wait, what? Yes. It was better to not walk side by side, moment to moment, living, breathing, and even physically touching Jesus! Why? It was so the Holy Spirit could come and literally live inside of each of us.
Counterintuitively, the Bible advises the days of having Jesus by one’s side were not physically easier. “But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.” – John 16:7
Don’t forget the same Jesus who allowed Peter to walk on water lives inside of you.
Thought of the day: Can you relate to Peter? When in the face of struggle, do you sometimes forget to see how big and capable God is? Over time, we build muscle memory as we begin to trust God for those times God does what only He can do! It makes it easier the next time and the 100th time to let go of the circumstances and let God do what only He can do!
Prayer: God, thank You for giving me Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to live in me so I am not shaken and swayed in the face of political turmoil. In spite of my beliefs and how they compare to someone else’s views, God I ask You would help me love those around me regardless of our politics and government. Remind me that Jesus is the hope of the world, not the people in office or their interests. God, thank You for only tasking me with the responsibility of loving God and loving people. I know through Your transformative power, You can change me and make that an easier task as I learn how much You love and have forgiven me! God, help me to see, trust, and lean into an everyday life reminded that Jesus is alive in me; and live changed in spite of politics! In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Written by: Jesse Flocken
The people of Philippi faced many hardships and I can only imagine their discouragement to find that Paul was in prison at the time. But their hope was not in Paul. Paul, rather than speaking of his challenges surrounding his immediate circumstances, instead chose to inspire hope by encouraging the church that God’s not done! He even goes beyond the circumstances or chalking it up to “a season of life” and says God will continue the good work He began to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!
No matter where you’ve been, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, God loves you and has a purpose and plan for your life. Your circumstances are real, which is why Paul writes you can be confident God is not done with you as long as you’re breathing! Be encouraged in the fact God is the author of hope and provided the hope of the world, the church, and your life in and through the person of Jesus.
Thought of the day: How can you praise God and thank Him through your current circumstances? Who is someone you can encourage and offer hope to today? Send an encouraging text to a few people you are thankful for.
Prayer: Jesus, help me live in a way that others can’t help but see You. Jesus, I pray people will experience Your love in this place no matter who they are, what they’ve done, or what’s been done to them. Thank You for loving me at my best, at my worst, and everywhere in between! In Jesus’ name, amen.
For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.
Written by: Tiffany Williford
The other day, I was in line at the drive-through getting food for a quick dinner. My family and I were on the road between activities having another busy school day. In my head, I was thinking about how long it would be until we got home, what to order, if I had a coupon, how long homework would take, and the list goes on. I pulled up to the window and grabbed my coupon and card to get ready to pay. My daughters were giggling loudly in the background so I could not fully hear the cashier. “Can you please repeat that?” I asked the cashier. “No payment needed. The person before you paid it forward,” the cashier replied. I paused for a minute with my card and coupon in hand, shocked. After I processed my new blessing, I smiled. Some lovely stranger decided to pay for dinner for my family. They had no idea how much our total bill would be, but they did it anyway. As I saw the back lights of the car in front of us leaving, I thought how someone that didn’t even know us decided to bless us, not asking anything in return.
Their small act of kindness brightened my day. It was a reminder of God’s goodness in us as well as a reminder that blessings can happen at any minute and be completely unexpectedly! This customer paying it forward is an example of the hope we look for when looking for the good in other people. We also hold on to that same hope for ourselves. God is continually transforming those around us. No one is ever completely lost, unfixable, or unforgiven. Deuteronomy 4:31 states, “For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them.” Anyone at any time, no matter who they are, what they’ve done, or what has been done to them, can pay it forward.
Thought of the day: This week while you are going about your regular activities, I challenge you to pay it forward. You pay it forward, then that person pays it forward and pretty quickly, it is a chain reaction. Pay it forward by adding someone’s coffee to your order, buying ice cream and leaving it behind for the next guest, or picking up the bill for the car behind you, or any other idea you can come up with.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for the many people You have put in this world who are continually being a blessing to others. I pray that You will move in my heart. I pray You will give me a grateful heart and attitude. I ask You to show me what You are doing in my heart and my life and help me respond to it. Thank You, God, for all You do in and through me. In Jesus’ name, amen.