How to Use the Bible in Everyday Life

bible

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.


When I was little, I loved building Lego structures by looking at the box and not using the instructions. Over time, I got pretty good at it… until the structures became a little more complicated.

As I would near completing the project, there came a point where I realized that I made mistake. Sometimes this mistake was easily fixed, other times, I would nearly have to start the project over. Either way, I had to pull out the instructions to figure out where I went wrong. As it turns out, the instruction book is really useful to teach me what is true, where I made a mistake, and what I need to do next to fix it.

Sometimes, we can live our lives in a similar way. We can go about without seeking God’s truth, instructions, encouragement, conviction, and ultimately, God’s will for our lives. When we don’t read, follow, and seek to understand God’s word, we can miss some important steps along the way. Missing these steps can hinder the integrity of the life that we have been building.

But fear not! You can always go back to the God’s instruction book, the Bible, and discover where the step you  missed. Through God’s word, the Holy Spirit will teach you what is right, what is wrong, and through God’s amazing grace, God’s word will show you how to build Jesus-centered life that will prepare and equip you for everything that God has called you to do and be.

Thought for Today: Are there areas of your life where you’re guessing through life rather than seeking God’s word to guide you towards God’s best for you and your life? What topic or situation do you need to hear God’s voice on?

Today’s Prayer: God, I thank you for your word. I thank you that I can trust what you say about every situation in my life. I thank you that your word never fails me. God, through your word, teach me what is true and help me to see the areas of my life where I need to make changes that honor you. Continue to prepare and equip me to live a life that makes you more famous. 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.

 

What Does Your Prayer Life Look Like?

prayer life

James 1:22-24

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.


I used to be a teacher, and I had this one student who drove me crazy. He would show up to class late, disheveled, and hungry. Not because he didn’t have food, but because he didn’t get up early enough to get ready for school and eat breakfast. His day started off rough, and didn’t get a whole lot better hanging out with me, as I already had so little patience for him (which I felt terrible about). So, daily I would pray that God would give me more patience and love for him.

Then one day, my prayers were answered. Or, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to how foolishly I had been praying. I hadn’t actually been praying for more patience and love for this kid—I was simply hoping that this kid would show up ready for school, and with a new attitude. But alas, it was my attitude that needed to change. I was waiting for my circumstances (or this kids’) to change, and they weren’t. The only thing that really needed to change was my attitude and response to my own circumstances.

Has this ever happened to you? You are praying for your heart to change, even though what you are wishing for are you circumstances to change?

As Chad often says—hope without action is just a wish.

James tells us to do what the Bible tells us to do, because the Bible is full of wisdom and practical actions to lead a better life. It starts with “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength” (Deut. 6:5), and progresses to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).

James equates those who listen to the word and do nothing, to people who look in the mirror and forget what they looks like. What does that look like in practice? I often pray, and then walk away forgetting what Jesus’ life and sacrifice looked like. I pray for things to miraculously change for my benefit, all the time. I pray for God to smite my enemies and to bless me abundantly.

Yet Jesus, king of the world, was all powerful, and had no selfish ambition. When he prayed, he prayed for the benefit of others, and the glory of his Father.

Jesus’ life was not easy. He was scorned and mocked, well before he made it to the cross. His life was not a stroll through a field of daisies—so why do we, as Christ-followers, think that our lives should be?

Thought for the Day: Does your life, and especially your prayer life, look like you are established and rooted in Christ’s love? Or something else?

Prayer: Dear Lord, I repent for all the times I foolishly and selfishly pray for you to make my life easier. Give me wisdom to not forget about Christ’s life and sacrifice. Help me to be a doer of the word, and to remember, and reflect the example of Jesus as I love and serve those around me.


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.

How God Inspired the Bible, Across Continents

inspired

The Bible is unique. There is no other book in all of human history like it. What is it about the Bible that makes it such a one of a kind writing? It’s the unified message of the Bible.

The Bible is made up of 66 books that have a total of 40 different authors over the span of more than 1,500 years. It was also written across three continents and in three different languages. With all its diversity of origin, it somehow still contains one cohesive message of the creation, fall and redemption of humanity through Jesus Christ. How is possible to have that level of consistency when the parts of the Bible were produced in such different contexts, separate from each other?
There must have been a single source that tied them all together and influenced all the authors. One of Jesus’ closest followers talked about this source, from 2 Peter 1:19-21:
19We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
 
Here is what Peter teaches us. The common thread in each of the books of the Bible is the influence of God’s Spirit. Even though they had different backgrounds, languages and experiences of life, the authors all had a relationship with the same God who inspired them to write what they did. God was at work within them to play an important role in communicating God’s word.
When you read the Bible you are not only hearing the thoughts and experiences of people who had a relationship with God, you are also hearing the words of God. The same message that he gave to these people hundreds of years ago, he wants to give to you.

Thought for Today: What does God want to say to you through His word today?


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.

You Can’t Win God’s Love—You Already Have It

win
Titus 3:4–7
4But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, 6whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7so that, being justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 

From a young age, we’re taught that all of our actions will either lead to rewards or counsequences. This creates an underlying theme of performance in our culture. We want to work hard to achieve the best, so that we can have the best, and live our best lives. It becomes really easy to believe that our lives are only a direct result of the choices and efforts we make.
This goes a step further in how we view love. It’s only after an extended season—a season in which we get to know each other, they our trust, they prove they can meet our needs, and they pass the sniff test of family and friends—that we consider telling somebody that we love them. In fact, it’s laughed at and often a deal breaker if somebody says “I love you” too soon.
However, God (who is referred to as “love” in 1 John 4:8), didn’t make us earn our way to his love and grace. The Bible tells us that we’ve all fallen short of checking all the right boxes, but that God loves us the same. No matter who you are, what you’ve done, or what’s been done to you, God loves you and has made a way for you in Jesus.
When our behaviors should have lead to a certain set of consequences, Jesus stepped in, took those upon himself, and gave us an opportunity to know his love. This takes everything we know about performance, love, and justice and flips it on its head.
For those of us who know Jesus, we need to be reminded that our salvation isn’t about what we’ve done. Often times, we think our standing with Jesus is based more on what we do after saying “Yes!” to him than on what he’s already done. We can fall into the trap of justifying ourselves and looking down on others based on performance, looks, or backgrounds, even after choosing to follow a God who loves us in spite of our stories.
If you have never had a time in your life where you’ve said “Yes!” to following Jesus, this passage makes something very clear: No matter your past, there’s a future of hope and redemption in choosing to follow Jesus. Unlike nearly every other relationship in our lives, this is a love that only has the condition of us choosing to believe and receive it.
If you find yourself believing you need to get some things right in your life before God will love you, use this passage from the book of Titus as a reminder that he already loves you.
Thought for the Day: Why is it so hard for us to receive love and grace freely? How would your life look different if you lived like Jesus was enough or you?

Prayer: Jesus, help me see that you’re enough for me, and that my justification comes from you, and not my own efforts. Thank you for loving me long before I even knew you. Allow the confidence that I have from your love to allow me to live freely and fully.


If you decided today to say “Yes!” to Jesus, or would like to talk to somebody about what that means, email yes@sunvalleycc.com. We’d love to talk with and celebrate you.
 
It’s not too late to join a small group for the Established Series! There are groups meeting in homes all around the Valley, and one that meets at your campus on a weekly basis. Click here to find a group near you!

All the Reasons You Have to Rejoice

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Romans 5:6-11 

6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.


Here, Paul shares some good news about the proof of God’s love.

First, God’s love is undeserved. Paul writes that Christ died for us while we were helpless, powerless, and without strength to do anything that pleased God. Christ died for us while we were ungodly, without anything in us that deserved God’s love.

Second, God’s love is incomparable. We see the surpassing value of the love of God in that Christ died for those at enmity with God.

Third, God’s love assures us of the security of our salvation. Since Christ died for us while we were yet sinners and at enmity with God, how much more will he save us from the future wrath of God. Someone has written, “If God has done so much for his enemies, what will he not do for his friends?” Thus, because God has reconciled us to himself, we have reason to rejoice.

We have reason to rejoice! Think about it! We have reason to shout to the heavens that Christ died for us. Pause for a moment, and if you are in a quiet place, right now, why not give out with a shout of praise and thanksgiving for your salvation!

Some years ago, I was backpacking in the California High Sierras. I was high up on a mountain. It was spectacular. I couldn’t help it—I gave out a huge shout for the spectacular glory of God’s creation. How much more should we take a moment and shout (out loud) our praise for Christ’s sacrifice for our salvation!

Psalm 32:11 says: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!”

Today’s Prayer: Sovereign Lord, Savior. You died for us, for me. Open my mouth to sing praises for your sacrifice on the cross that I (we) may live in eternity with you. Amen.


It’s not too late to join a small group for the Established Series! There are groups meeting in homes all around the Valley, and one that meets at your campus on a weekly basis. Click here to find a group near you!

Who Gets the Credit for Your Accomplishments?

credit

Ephesians 2:8-9

8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.


When you are recognized for your hard work, it seemingly gives you a certain feeling of value, worth, and accomplishment. While putting forth effort at work, in your hobbies, or just adulting—it’s fairly easy to want the credit.

Many years ago, I served under a boss who literally took credit for nearly all of my work success. Never being recognized, I became frustrated, and ultimately, my frustration became bitterness. At the root of it all, I wanted the credit for my effort, giftings, and abilities. I had a wise friend who asked a very important question: “Are you working for recognition, or are you working for God, and in such a way that brings glory and honor back to God?”

Through much prayer and introspection, I came to the realization that my life had become more about me getting the credit than Jesus getting the glory. After all, I was designed and created by God, gifted by God, and saved through God’s amazing grace through his son Jesus. No matter how well I perform, no matter how much I accomplish, Jesus should always get the credit, the honor, and the glory.

There is literally nothing that I can do to earn my right standing with God. Both my salvation and righteousness are gifts from God that I don’t deserve, but are freely given through God’s grace. May God get the credit for the life I choose to live for Him.

Thought for Today: Do you struggle with wanting or feeling deserving of more recognition? This week, think about any areas of your life where you notice that you’re more concerned about getting the credit rather than Jesus getting the glory. What can you change in your life to make Jesus more famous?

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for your amazing saving grace. You have given me so much more than I deserve. Help me to live a life that brings honor to you. I pray that the way I choose to life every day makes you more famous, Jesus. Amen.


It’s not too late to join a small group for the Established Series! There are groups meeting in homes all around the Valley, and one that meets at your campus on a weekly basis. Click here to find a group near you!

 

Why God’s Love Doesn’t Discriminate

discriminate

John 3:16-17

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


Christ paved the way for relationships, both our relationships with him and our relationships with one another. His promise is one that lasts through all years, during all circumstances and situations. This promise that has a start and a promise that provides eternal life with Him. 

As a young adult before I accepted Jesus as my savior, the one thing that I always noticed was that God’s love does not discriminate based on circumstances. No matter our current situation, spiritual or physical, His love is applied to everyone without exception. 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

For what this love says is “that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” The reason why his love does not discriminate is because Jesus has already cancelled the debts of all who believe. 

Thought for the Day: Everyday life can be difficult. We tend to focus on our current situation to determine our mood. Throughout today, try remembering his love and promise for you, that he has already paved the way and paid the debt for your sin. No matter your current situation, his love is everlasting for you. 

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your consistent pursuit of my heart. Remind me of your promise and love each day when I get trapped in the business of life. As my thoughts move away from you throughout the day, please overfill my thoughts with your love and grace to bring my focus back to you.


It’s not too late to join a small group for the Established Series! There are groups meeting in homes all around the Valley, and one that meets at your campus on a weekly basis. Click here to find a group near you!