Bring Light to the Dark

light

Matthew 5:14-16

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.


I remember being a small child, protesting bedtime with all of my being, simply because I was terrified of the dark. It wasn’t exactly the darkness that threatened me. I knew the darkness itself couldn’t gobble me up, but I was certain there was something lurking just out of sight. The same room  only moments before felt perfectly safe with the lights on.

Being a parent now myself, I’ve found a magical remedy to this fear my kids have inherited. A tiny flashlight just beside my son’s bed helps him slay the dragons of the dark. Twinkle lights tucked in the corner of my daughter’s room help ward off any threat and keep her safe. The thing about lights, though… we have to be sure to turn them on. Batteries charged, bulbs intact, ‘on’ buttons engaged, and pointed towards the dark. They don’t do much good otherwise.

The same is true of the light inside you and me. As Jesus stood atop a mountain, preaching to his disciples and the crowd that had gathered, he challenged them to be luminous in the dark places. If you have said ‘yes’ to Jesus, you ARE the light. If we let our light shine, we bring hope to the hopeless. If we let our light shine, we dispel the darkness around us and we bring fame and glory to God himself.

There is sin, sadness, and scary stuff in this broken world. We can’t chase the shadows or capture the darkness to bury it away, but we can allow ourselves to be light. We can point ourselves towards the darkness and let hope and God’s glory pour out of us to fill the those spaces.

Thought for Today: Are you hiding your lamp under basket or putting it on a stand? Are there any dark places around you where your light needs be seen?

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for bringing light to darkness. Let me be bold and brave in the way I let your light shine through me. Amen.  


The last few weeks, we’ve challenged everyone to use God’s plan for their money. That means that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. We know that taking the step of giving can cause a number of hesitations, but we’d love to help you try it. If the idea of giving to the church is new to you, you’re invited to take that step by joining the 90-Day Tithe Challenge.  Click here to learn more.

You are Needed

needed

Deuteronomy 16:17

Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.


The God we serve is a good God. He is not asking for things that He hasn’t already richly provided for us. If I asked my 2 year old for $20, that would be terrible. That kid does not have $20. If he did, he would have already ripped it, chewed it, and lost it by now. But if I asked my 10 year old for $20, he could give it to me, because I have given him over $20 in the last few months. Now, whether my 10 year old wants to part with $20 is a decision that he has to make for himself. But if he thought to himself, “I can’t give that because I don’t have it”, it would be a lie.

My 2 year old and 10 year old have different gifts, and different abilities to give. This is in direct proportion to their age (and ability to help with the dishes and other household chores.) But, do you feel more like my 10 year old, or my 2 year old? Do you feel like you don’t have anything to give? Or do you know you have somethings to give, but you are scared, or just don’t want to part with your talents and resources?

We all have gifts that are needed to advance the kingdom of God. Not just gifts that are needed at church (though they are needed here as well), but gifts that need to be used all day, every day, in every arena of your life. Your family needs you, your friends need you, your community needs you, the God of the universe needs you.

Can you imagine what our church would look like if our pastors decided that they were too scared of what people thought of them, and decided they were safer keeping their gifts to themselves, instead of sharing them with the community they are serving? It wouldn’t be good! Can you imagine what our church would look like if all the volunteers felt like their tasks were unimportant and decided not to show up anymore? It would be mass chaos. Children would be unattended, no one would get greeted at the door, and who knows what madness would ensue in the parking lot.

We all have gifts, talents, and faith… and God has blessed us with all of these things. So, as the verse is encouraging us today: “Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you”, what gift are you bringing to the table?

Today’s Prayer: Dear God, thank you for blessing me abundantly. And if I can’t see the blessings right now, please open my heart to see your goodness, even in the midst of troubles. You are a good God. Help me to be bold and brave and obedient by blessing you back with the gifts you have given me. Amen.


The last few weeks, we’ve challenged everyone to use God’s plan for their money. That means that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. We know that taking the step of giving can cause a number of hesitations, but we’d love to help you try it. If the idea of giving to the church is new to you, you’re invited to take that step by joining the 90-Day Tithe Challenge.  Click here to learn more.

Sharing is God’s Plan

sharing

Hebrews 13:16

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.


“Don’t forget to do good.” These words should be on our car visor, refrigerator, phone backdrop, and on the wall of every room of our home.  Why do we need to be reminded to share, especially with those in need? Because God is concerned with every need. Listen to how He describes Himself in Deuteronomy 10:17-18.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

When it comes to meeting needs, God has a plan. Do you know what that plan is? It is you. His plan to care for those in need is you and me and His Church. That happens through sacrifice. As Hebrews 13:16 says, God is pleased with our sacrifice. At times, we are called to meet the needs of others by denying our own wants and desires.

When we view our possessions, materials, and funds as “ours”, no one is getting them! If, however, our perspective is that God owns it all and we are simply managing what He has given to us, then we hold what He has given to us with an open hand, willing to give and share.

One of the most attractive characteristics of the Church is her generosity.  There is no other movement in the history of the world that has been as giving, as generous, and has met as many needs. In Acts 2:45 the early Church had no needs because of the generosity of the people. As you give, you are part of this movement!

Thought of the Day: Do you tend to hold possessions tightly, hesitant to share, or are you holding resources loosely, willing to give when a need arises? What can you tell yourself “No” to today, that will allow you to say “Yes” to someone else?

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for entrusting me to manage finances and possessions. Help me to manage them well. Help me to see what you see and give me wisdom when to give and share.


The last few weeks, we’ve challenged everyone to use God’s plan for their money. That means that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. We know that taking the step of giving can cause a number of hesitations, but we’d love to help you try it. If the idea of giving to the church is new to you, you’re invited to take that step by joining the 90-Day Tithe Challenge.  Click here to learn more.

Refreshing Others

others.jpg

Proverbs 11:24-25

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.


We’ve all grown up hearing “it’s better to give than receive.” For some of us, we first heard that after serving somebody for the first time and realizing how great it made us feel. Some of us might have learned that passively as a child, as our Christmas list was growing longer than our family’s resources. It’s a concept we’re all familiar with, and one that many of us have experienced the truth of.

Though it’s a virtue that’s taught by parents and grandparents to their kids, it’s actually a Biblical principle. Acts 20:35 tells us that the phrase comes from Jesus himself. Jesus, even though He was fully God, came to Earth and lived a life that was defined by the way He served and cared for those around him. He was a selfless leader, prioritizing the needs of those around Him over His own. This all culminated with His death on the cross, when He served all of humanity in the most powerful way in history.

In our lives, many of us have experienced the feeling we get when we meet the needs of somebody else. Whether with time, financial-, or skill-based resources, there is a satisfaction and fullness that comes from refreshing others. The reason we feel that fullness is that we’re never more like Jesus than when we give and serve. In fact, you’re never more in step with God’s purpose for your life than when you make it about others.

This passage in Proverbs reminds us that when we make our lives about serving those around us, God is faithful to meet our needs. Remember – everything we own is on loan. The gifts, talents, and treasures God has given us won’t follow us after our number is called. If we hoard it all for the sake of comfort and satisfaction, what have we really gained if it’s not really ours in the first place? When we refresh others by meeting their needs, we’ll be refreshed in return.

Have you ever had a time that you’ve been refreshed by serving somebody else? What stands out to you about that memory?

What are some small ways you can serve somebody you work with or see on a regular basis?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, help me to find purpose and satisfaction in the way I meet the needs of those around me. Thank you for modeling what it looks like to live a selfless life centered around others. Give me wisdom in knowing who I can serve today with the gifts you’ve loaned me.


The last few weeks, we’ve challenged everyone to use God’s plan for their money. That means that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. We know that taking the step of giving can cause a number of hesitations, but we’d love to help you try it. If the idea of giving to the church is new to you, you’re invited to take that step by joining the 90-Day Tithe Challenge.  Click here to learn more.

On Loan from God

loan

2 Corinthians 9:7–9

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”


Success is something we all fight to achieve. Whether it’s academic, professional, financial, or even in our hobbies and interests – we’re all born with the desire to achieve and succeed. As we get older, our gifting becomes more apparent, and oftentimes will lead to great opportunities in our careers and leadership.

As we say at Sun Valley, what we own is really on loan. Your resources, gifts, and talents are all loaned to you by God. Like any good investor, God’s investment of resources into our lives is about what we will do with them. Our success and gifting can bring an abundance of opportunity and wealth to our own lives, but what if they were meant than more than just our own estates?

2 Corinthians 9:8 tells us that the abundant blessings and gifts God gives us will meet our needs so that we can “abound in every good work.” Defining “good work” requires us to look at the life Jesus lived. His life was defined by the way he loved, served, cared for, and met the needs of others. Jesus gave Himself freely to others, so that they might know His love for them.

By now, it’s been clearly established through this series that we’re wealthy compared to the rest of the world. We’ve been blessed richly by a God that, through the gifts He has given us, has given us the means to not only have our own needs met, but to do the good work He created us for. We are blessed to be a blessing.

When you think about the financial resources and talent you have, what are some ways you’re already doing “good work”?

What are some opportunities that are around you that you haven’t seized to make an impact in the lives of others?

Today’s Prayer: God, thank you for being the one that richly blesses me. Remind me that, even in times when I feel like I don’t have enough, that you’re able to give me exactly what I need – not just for myself, but so that I might be a blessing to others.


The last few weeks, we’ve challenged everyone to use God’s plan for their money. That means that we give first, save second, and live on the rest. We know that taking the step of giving can cause a number of hesitations, but we’d love to help you try it. If the idea of giving to the church is new to you, you’re invited to take that step by joining the 90-Day Tithe Challenge.  Click here to learn more.

Everyday Choices

choices

Luke 16:10-13

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.


In high school physics, one of the first principles you learn is Newton’s First Law of Motion which states roughly that an object at rest will stay at rest, and an object in motion will stay in motion unless something acts upon it. We call this force inertia.

We set the course for how we will steward our money by making the smallest of choices.

Should I pay for that item they mistakenly gave me for free? Should I give generously of this money even though I worked hard for it and could use it elsewhere? Should I splurge and treat myself at the expense of neglecting other financial responsibilities?

Those everyday, seemingly small choices create momentum in the grand scheme of how we will handle our finances. We choose in the small stuff the trajectory of how we will handle the big stuff. Because we are humans in a broken world, we are susceptible to a self-serving nature that pulls on us, like gravity, towards greed and a desire for control and power through money.

But there’s good news, as is always the case with our good God. Inertia can be stopped; reversed even! God, in his loving kindness, gives us many opportunities to change course and honor him. Even if we’ve messed up in the past, set our momentum toward unrighteous stewardship, he’s quick to forgive and we can gain momentum down a more faithful path, one small decision at a time.

Thought for Today: Look for ways to give generously and practice faithful stewardship in your everyday life. Ask the Lord to reveal any money habits, big or small, that don’t honor him. If that discovery stings a little, you’ve likely hit an area where the Lord can do some work in your heart. An idol is anything you will sin to get, sin to keep, and sin when it’s taken away. Money is a common idol and it may be that we need to ask the Lord to forgive us and ask him to take his place again on the throne of our hearts.

Today’s Prayer: Gracious God, thank you for providing for my every need. Forgive me for the ways I’ve allowed money to rule my heart. Help me to be faithful with what you’ve given me, so that I can honor you with my finances. Amen.


Easter is less than two weeks away! We’re so excited to celebrate the new life we have through Jesus, and encourage you to invite your neighbors, friends, and coworkers. They’ll have an incredible time, and have an opportunity to hear about the great love Jesus has for them.
In order to ensure we have enough space for all of our guests, we would like to ask that you reserve seats for you, your family, and those you have invited. Head to easter.sv.cc to reserve your seat.

Blessing Others

blessing

Proverbs 19:17

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,

   and he will reward them for what they have done.


As I grow my relationship with Jesus, I’m finding the best thing I can gain from God is the knowledge of Him and wisdom from Him.

In John 6, Jesus was being followed by a great crowd of people because they saw the signs he performed by healing the sick. Jesus had them sit down. He then took a few loaves of bread, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with a couple fish. Later that evening, the disciples went to the other side of the lake. When the 5,000 that Jesus fed realized He was not there anymore, they got in their boats and also went to the other side.

Jesus performed this miracle to meet a tangible need of hunger so He could then meet their spiritual need of faith. God calls us to give of what He has given us so we can care for the poor. This is who we are as the church, a movement of Jesus.  

At the beginning of my career, I found success owning a business. I had a nice car, house, and money in the bank. A few years later after a few bad choices and career change, I was standing in a parking lot realizing I only had $7 in my bank account. I was broke, broken, and needed help. Around this same time I got invited to church. As I look back now, I imagine what I could have done if I had chosen to bless others with what I had been given early on in my career. I realized that what I thought was mine was really just on loan. If we choose not to manage our finances the way God shows us, we can very easily mismanage it away.

Thought for Today: As you go throughout this day, spend some quiet time with Jesus. Think about what God has given you to manage: time, family,  money, etc. Are you following His teachings in your life?

Today’s Prayer: Jesus, I love you. I thank you for the constant grace and love you selflessly give to me so freely. I ask you guide me down correct paths as I walk closer to following you in every area of my life. I pray you give me the wisdom and courage to learn more about you, so I can care more about what you have given me. Amen.


Easter is less than two weeks away! We’re so excited to celebrate the new life we have through Jesus, and encourage you to invite your neighbors, friends, and coworkers. They’ll have an incredible time, and have an opportunity to hear about the great love Jesus has for them.
In order to ensure we have enough space for all of our guests, we would like to ask that you reserve seats for you, your family, and those you have invited. Head to easter.sv.cc to reserve your seat.