How to Display Your Values Through More Than Words

values

1 John 3:16-18

16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.


Actions and truth are tied very closely together. Here are some truths in my life: I hate exercise and I love food. These truths can absolutely co-exist. Pretty peacefully even.

Except I have another truth—I want to be healthy and look okay (I’m not even striving for looking good! Just okay!). Now I have a problem, because these three truths cannot exist happily together.

So where do I go from here? I can tell people what my truths are, and even post pictures of me eating, and not exercising, and quotes about healthy lifestyle on all my social media platforms. But, my actions are what show what I believe, what my truths are.

So, I eat. Not EVERYTHING I want (remember, I value health), and not whenever I want (remember, I value looking okay; this means no cheeseburgers in bed at 10 p.m.). And I exercise. Even though I don’t love it. But I value health, looking okay, and food, so this was the one truth that had to be pushed in order for the others to thrive.   

Jesus said he loved God and loved others. What if he just posted Bible verses on his Instagram feed but lived in a manner that did not reflect what he said he believed? Jesus did not want to die on the cross. You can read the account in Matthew 26-27. But he did it, because he said he loves God, he loves us, and he showed it by serving us all through his death.

Thought for Today: How do we show our love for God with actions and in truth in our daily lives? Actions that bring glory and honor to the kingdom of God? Saying things is easy. Doing things is hard.

But let’s try following the example that Christ set for us, even when it’s hard. Everything He said, and did, lined up with what He believed. God came first, others came second. So as His followers, we love God, and we serve others. “If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:11).


This week, we’ve been talking about serving in our messages, groups, and devotions. A great way for you to use your gifts is by joining a serving team here at Sun Valley. You can find out more information and sign up here

Who Can You Serve Today?

serve

John 13:1-10

1Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 7Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 8Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.”


What an example! The son of God, God himself in the earthly body of man, removes most of his clothing and kneels in front of his astonished disciples. He proceeds to pour water into a basin and washes the dirt and grime off of each of their feet! The disciples are astounded that their Lord and revered master would humble himself in such a lowly act, an act that changed their lives forever.

Jesus insists on washing the feet of Peter knowing full well that Peter will deny Him to save his own skin. What’s more, Jesus stoops to wash the feet of Judas, knowing also that Judas has already conspired to betray Him. Yet even with Judas—cold, calculating, back-stabbing Judas—Jesus’ love remains unwavering. Jesus washes Judas’ dirty feet along with all the others.

Is there someone who needs you to “wash their feet”? Perhaps a neighbor could use your help to clean up some old trash in their yard or an accumulation of garbage by their back fence, or some other odious task. Find some way to “lay aside your outer garments” of pride and serve a neighbor or friend—or better yet a stranger in need.

Today’s Thought: Pause now. Lift your voice to God and ask him to lead you today to someone who needs your help. Pray for a menial task, a task that can show your genuine love.

Today’s Prayer: Sovereign Lord, remind me that many are in need of acts of love and words of encouragement. Humble my heart and hands to those around me who need my example of love for them. Jesus’ washed his disciples’ feet as a sign of service and compassion. Show me how to live and love in service with compassion, for the sake of all your children. In the name of our saviour and Lord, amen.


This week, we’ve been talking about serving in our messages, groups, and devotions. A great way for you to use your gifts is by joining a serving team here at Sun Valley. You can find out more information and sign up here.

Are You Comparing Your Talent to Someone Else’s?

talent

1 Peter 4:8-11 (NIV)

8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.


Have you ever wondered why God gives us all different gifts? I have and truthfully, I find myself comparing my gifts to someone else’s talents. It’s almost like I’m trying to determine my worthiness over theirs, instead of just doing what God tells us, which is to “serve one another with our gifts.”

There it is again, the big “L” word. We hear it over and over, to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. But what does it actually mean? Well God gifts us all in different ways. If he didn’t, we’d all be alike. We can’t all have every gift, because if we did, we’d have no need for relationship and each other.

God has maybe made you great at public speaking, but you struggle when it comes to anything with administrative work. Or maybe God has gifted you to be great at event planning, but you struggle when it comes to communicating. Whatever it is, God has gifted us all in different ways.

A few months ago, I was really trying to figure out where God was calling me in ministry. I knew that he had given me a heart for missions. The problem is, I wasn’t serving our mission teams for my day to day ministry. I had a learn to be okay with where I currently am, and to be faithful to use the gifts God has gifted me with, no matter my situation.

After months of praying, I learned two things” “whose I am” and “who I am.” We all have different gifts, but if we know “who we are” and “whose we are,” God will always use those gifts to better his kingdom.

Thought for Today: What talents has God gifted you to be great at? Think about leaning into your talent today, and see how you can better His kingdom because of it. How can you be a part of serving others in Gods kingdom.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for your loving spirit. Despite my faults, you love me. Help me not to compare who I am against others and the talents you have given them. Help me understand how you have gifted me and teach me to use my talent to serve others. Help to remind me of “whom I belong to” through your love. Amen. 


This week, we’ve been talking about serving in our messages, groups, and devotions. A great way for you to use your gifts is by joining a serving team here at Sun Valley. You can find out more information and sign up here.

What’s Your Spiritual Gift?

gift

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

 7A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise advice; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge. 9The same Spirit gives great faith to another, and to someone else the one Spirit gives the gift of healing. 10He gives one person the power to perform miracles, and another the ability to prophesy. He gives someone else the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Still another person is given the ability to speak in unknown languages, while another is given the ability to interpret what is being said. 11It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have.


I was a very shy kid growing up. I was rarely the first to speak, and nearly the last person to jump into any group activity. When I looked around at my friends, I truly thought I was the least gifted and talented of them all. Later in my teen years, I began to notice something about my friendships… when someone had a problem, they turned to me for advice! Were they crazy? No, they just saw something in me that I couldn’t see myself.

Spiritual gifts are not for your own benefit, but rather for the benefit of others.

Sometimes it takes others to help us see how God has gifted us to help others. At a young age, God had given me the ability to share wise advice in a way that pointed people back to Jesus. Do you know how God has uniquely gifted you to help others?

6In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. 7If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. 8If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. 9Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.” (Romans 12:6-9)

God has given everyone at least one spiritual gift to be a great benefit to others. God asks that we use these gifts well! After all, Jesus says that we will be known as his disciples by our love for one another. We must not only “know” how God has gifted us, but we must put our gifts into action by serving one another in love, through God’s grace.

Thought for Today: How has God uniquely gifted you to serve others? Have you found a way to use your gifts within your friendships? Your church? Your community? If you’re not sure how God has gifted you, take this free spiritual gifts survey.

Today’s Prayer: God, help me to understand how you have uniquely gifted me to help others, and more. Give me the courage to use my gifts every day. Jesus, I pray that you would use me and the gifts that you have given me to help others meet, know, and follow you. Amen.


Last weekend, thousands from Sun Valley said “We Love Our City” through various service projects. We would love to hear your stories and see your pictures. Send those to Brian LaMew, and we’ll celebrate your story with the SV staff.

 

God Created You for Good Works

good works
Ephesians 2:8-10

 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


 

I am a people pleaser through and through. For better or worse, I feel most content when I know I’m meeting the expectations of those around me. Growing up, that looked like being a fairly obedient child both at home and school, save for a few rebellious preteen years.
(Disclaimer: My people pleasing nature isn’t rooted in any inherent goodness, but mostly a heightened sense of self importance and pride. That took me several sessions in counseling to figure out, but you can have it for free.)
As I’ve grown in my faith journey, I’ve purposed myself to obey and please the Lord instead. God, while mysterious and great, has laid out a clear purpose for us as his children, or as Paul calls us in this verse in Ephesians, his “workmanship.” He created us for good works, which he prepared beforehand.
Those good works are modeled for us in the life of Jesus. Jesus spent his life on earth serving those around him. He loved neighbors and strangers, constantly pointing them to the love of his Father. This was evidenced by sharing meals with outcasts, offering mercy and forgiveness to those who wronged him, giving freely of his gifts and time, being a friend to those in need and, ultimately, giving up his life for sinners like you and me.
If those are the good works that Jesus spent his life accomplishing, we can be sure those are examples of good works God has prepared for us. We do this not to earn our salvation—that’s been freely given to us by God’s grace! Instead, we do the good works in response to our good God.
Thought for Today: What are some ways you can follow Jesus’ example of good works this week? Is there someone you can invite into your home for a meal? Can you offer your gifts or time to serve someone in need? Maybe you can simply be a friend or offer kind words to those around you. Ask God to show you ways you can honor and glorify him this week by your works and thank him for the grace he’s given you today.

Today’s Prayer: Father, thank you for inviting me to to take part in good works that honor you. Help me to be mindful of how I can serve you and serve others today. Amen.


Last weekend, thousands from Sun Valley said “We Love Our City” through various service projects. We would love to hear your stories and see your pictures. Send those to Brian LaMew, and we’ll celebrate your story with the SV staff.

How to Let Go of Worry Through Prayer

worry
Philippians 4:6-7

 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


 

Don’t worry!
Don’t we all just wish it were as easy as it sounds? If only we lived in a world without sickness, war, hatred, and evil, not to mention traffic, politics, budgets, and relational woes. Maybe then we could manage not to be anxious about anything. But alas, since Genesis 3, we’ve been living in a fallen world full of fodder for our worried and anxious minds.
The good news is, God knew our humanity would tempt us toward worry and an insatiable desire for control. God gave us the sweetest gift in Jesus, who always has been and always will be the Prince of Peace.
In this passage from Philippians 4, Paul wisely urges us, as a remedy for a worried and anxious mind, we need only to be prayerful and thankful towards God. Prayer calibrates our very hearts, shifting the inward focus that is blinded by our current circumstances, to a right mindset that focuses instead on how good, sovereign and faithful God is.
It’s a “less of me and more of you” mentality. And get this… it works!
The challenge of letting go of worry may seem impossible, and without prayer, it likely is. Ask yourself, “What am I worried about today, and what progress am I making with that worry?”
Thought for Today: Spend some time today actively letting go of your worry by praying and thanking God for who he is and what he is doing in your life.

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, I lay down the burden of my worry. Whatever it is, I trust you, because you are trustworthy. Your word says you are the Prince of Peace, so help me draw near to you. Thank you for being a good God who loves me and cares for me. Amen.


Join Sun Valley the second week of February, as We Love Our City. Thousands of individuals and hundreds of small groups will join up as we care for the East Valley of Phoenix by serving at various local organizations. You can browse all of our available service projects and sign up here.

Do You Recognize the Power of Prayer?

power

James 5:14-16

14Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.


Scholars have written scores of interpretations of this passage. One notable writer commentated that James means just what he said: We will be blessed to follow suit.

James says prayer is power. The power to heal sickness. The power to find forgiveness. The power to bring believers together to praise God, to pray together for each other in fellowship.

The certain promise of the power of prayer is the central key to this passage. We pray and the Lord answers. Prayer for the sick, prayer for the forgiveness of sin, prayer for one another. When we pray for one another, we strengthen our bond of fellowship with each other. And how precious is the bond of fellowship. We love our fellow believers and as we minister to each other, our bond of love and fellowship grows.

Thought for Today: James says prayer is the answer. Is there someone you know who is sick or needs encouragement? Take a moment now to pray for them. Then make a plan to visit them. Your personal visit and your prayers will be effective in their healing, and will also encourage them spiritually and emotionally.

Take a moment now, bow your head and ask God to bring to your mind someone who needs your loving presence.

Remember these promises:

Matthew 21:22: “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Romans 12:12: “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Today’s Prayer: Sovereign Lord, your word says that we are to visit the sick and pray for their healing. And if we pray you will answer. Thank you for that wonderful promise. Prompt me to faithfully pray for my family, my friends, for our spiritual leaders, for those in need of healing. Prompt me not only to pray but put action into my prayers to visit those I know who are in need and to minister to them. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.


Join Sun Valley the second week of February, as We Love Our City. Thousands of individuals and hundreds of small groups will join up as we care for the East Valley of Phoenix by serving at various local organizations. You can browse all of our available service projects and sign up here.