God Fights for You

Exodus 14:14
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Written by: Danielle Morgan

This past weekend we talked about what it would look like to be unafraid to fight. When you consider what it means to have the courage to fight the battle that’s right before you, what does this look like?

Sometimes the battles we face can be so overwhelming. When we focus on the hardship and the fight before us, we can be consumed with worry, fear, anxiety, and an overwhelming sense that we are totally out of control.

Be encouraged today that it’s a blessing to be out of control because the One who holds the stars in place and breathed life into existence is completely in control and wants what’s best for you.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 says: For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

That is a reminder that you don’t have to fight your battles alone because He is fighting for you. In Exodus 14, the Israelites are terrified of the ongoing turmoil with the Egyptians. Moses tells them in verse 14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Additionally, God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and when we trust in Him, not relying on our own understanding, He will direct our steps along the way (Proverbs 3:5-6).

God knows the full story, so have the courage to fight whatever you are facing knowing that He is going to battle for you. Philippians 1:6 reminds us that “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Trust that God will carry you through the fight and that He plans to complete the work He has started in and through you.

5.15Thought of the day: What battles are you facing today? Do you believe that God is fighting for you? What would it look like for you to be unafraid to fight, knowing that God is right there alongside of you?

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in You with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. I acknowledge that You are in control. Please direct my steps, give me wisdom to know how to fight the battle before me, and the courage to take action where needed. Thank You for fighting for me.

Doing Life with Others

Ecclesiastes 4:7-12
There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked, “and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment? “This too is meaningless—a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Written by: Tiffany Robinson

We were never made to do life alone. Even Jesus didn’t do life alone. He began His ministry by surrounding Himself with others. These men became his disciples. They lived life together, and shared burdens and victories with each other. Jesus was doing many things through this group of friends: spreading the gospel, healing people, and many other great miracles. I think Jesus was also using this group to show us how we were made to do life.

King Solomon explains the importance of community in Ecclesiastes: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work… if two lie down together, they will keep warm… A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Living in close relationship with others can be difficult. Sometimes it is easy to think we are better on our own, that we should always do things our way. People have different personalities, opinions, and ways of communicating, but the Bible promises that living in community is always better. Together we grow and learn more about ourselves and God.

5.14Thought of the day: Who is in your life that you need to invite in? If you are not doing life with others, join a small group. You can search available groups at Sunvalleycc.com/sv-groups.

Prayer: God, thank You for creating each of us to live in community. Thank you for making us better together. We praise You for the people You have put in our lives. Help us to connect with one another and grow closer to you through our relationships.

Choosing to Come Back

Joshua 7:3-5, 8:1
When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.”  So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai, who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.

Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land.

Written by: Nathan Smith

I love college basketball for the stories it provides. Even if you don’t like sports, you surely love a good story. Every year millions of Americans watch “March Madness” and get wrapped up in the underdogs, buzzer beaters, and the unpredictable things that can happen. This year gave us maybe the best story of all. The University of Virginia men’s basketball team made history by winning the school’s first ever national championship after a great year and several dramatic victories during the tournament. But that’s not what made the story so great. What made it a great story was what happened last year when they made a different kind of history.

In the 2018 tournament, Virginia became the first-ever number one seed to lose to a 16 seed. Basically, what that means is the tournament committee determined them to be one of the four best teams in the country based on how they had done during the season. For that, they were rewarded with getting to play one of the worst teams. These games usually end up as blowouts as future NBA players run up and down the court and outplay future architects, writers, and doctors. But this time, the big bad team lost to the scrappy upstarts from the University of Maryland – Baltimore County. This was like the mom and pop store putting Walmart out of business or the country of Liechtenstein invading Russia and winning. Or the town of Waco, Texas becoming a major tourist destination because of the popularity of a couple with a home improvement show. Oh wait, that one actually happened.

After such a historic loss, the team could have gone multiple directions. They could have just quit. The coach could have taken another job and the players could have left for the NBA or transferred to other schools. Or they could have tried to pretend it didn’t happen and refuse to answer questions about it. But instead, they chose to embrace it and learn from it. Over and over this year, they talked in interviews about how they chose to use it as motivation to come back stronger this year and finish what they started.

Under Joshua’s faithful leadership and devotion to God, the Israelites were riding high. They were claiming territory and winning battles. When they got to the town of Ai, Joshua sent some scouts up and they came back said it would be an easy win. They didn’t even need to send their whole army. But then, they were decisively beaten. It was demoralizing. As you read through all of Joshua 7, it comes out one of Joshua’s men had committed a pretty major sin and that was their reason for losing the battle. After dealing with the sin and refocusing their attention on God, they regrouped and went back to fight against Ai. This time they won easily.

There are times in life when you will face defeat. It’s inevitable. Sometimes the defeat will come from your own mistakes and sometimes it will come from circumstances beyond your control. The only sure thing is it will come. But what you can control is how you respond. Don’t ignore it and try to pretend it didn’t happen. Don’t just give up and never try again. Choose to learn from it, deal with it, and come back stronger.

5.13Thought of the day: For the adversities in life that have brought you trouble, consider forgiving those who need forgiving (including yourself). Understand that failure is never permanent, and that the Bible shows us over and over again God’s long-term plan is victory for those who love Him.

Prayer: God, help me to face life’s challenges in a way that honors You. For the sin in my life that’s keeping me from experiencing victory, I confess it to You and ask for Your forgiveness. I know that Jesus’ death on the cross covers my guilt and shame. Amen.

Planting Seeds Every Day

Galatians 6:7-10
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Written by: Robert Watson

We may not realize it, but every single one of us are planting seeds each and every day. Every word, every thought, and every action are seeds that given enough time will grow into something.

Paul reminds us that whatever we are planting will eventually reveal itself. Nothing is hidden from God, and the choices we make each day really do matter.

In light of that, Paul says to continue planting seeds of good for those around us. Even when we are tired or feel weary, he says to us, “Don’t give up!” Over time, our words of encouragement, our kind actions, our seeds of goodness will begin to break through the surface of the soil.

Unafraid Devo 5.10Thought of the day: Who can you do good to today? Do something above and beyond to show God’s love to another person today, and trust God with the results.

Prayer: Father, help me to see an opportunity to do good to another person today. Holy Spirit, guide me to sow seeds that are pleasing to You. Amen.

Immobilizing Fear

John 16:33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Written by: Jimmy Leaf

It amazes me how immobilizing fear is. Fear causes us to doubt ourselves and our abilities and forget who is in control. The world tells us time and time again we are not good enough, too weak, too damaged, or perhaps we are just too unworthy. This world is broken and too difficult to accomplish anything on our own. That is the point! We were never meant to go through this world alone and without God. Our souls yearn for the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of Jesus’ love.  When you place your faith in Jesus’ infinite love and rely on Him to be your eternal source of strength and peace, you move forward!

When I was asked to completely change not only my life but also my family’s lives six months ago, I was terrified. This was a decision that took the past 15 years of my life and turned it on its side. I began questioning whether I had the ability to do this next step; if I was good enough or if I was too weak. I know that I am not worthy! I prayed intensely and discussed it with my wife. I met with two of my Christian mentors and turned to the Bible for direction. All of the signs kept me pushing forward.

Through the following few months, I had waves of terror and doubt run through my mind. I prayed for God’s continued guidance and for His peace to wash over me. I could feel Him reminding me He was with me. He knew my weaknesses and He gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding.  He brought me through that decision and I believe that He is faithful and just to complete His good work.

As long as you are breathing, Jesus is not done with you and He has a plan for your life. That plan may not be life changing, but in all things, He is wanting you to put your trust in Him and move forward in faith.

Unafraid Devo 5.9Thought of the day: Never allow fear to paralyze you from action. God is always calling you to ministry. Seek wisdom through prayer, mentors, and the Bible to discern God’s calling and move forward. Always remember it is not by your strength that God accomplishes all things, but by His enduring strength and love.

Prayer: Dear God, thank You for Your constant guidance in my life. Please help me to never let fear keep me from accomplishing Your will and remind me constantly You have overcome this world.  Please grant me peace and wisdom. Amen.

Naked and Unafraid

Isaiah 20:2
“at that time, the Lord spoke through Isaiah son of Amoz. He said to him, “Take off the sackcloth from your body and the sandals from your feet.” And he did so, going around stripped and barefoot.

Written by: Shannon Swenson

God asked Isaiah to strip down and walk around naked for three years. It was a sign to the neighboring countries of Israel that they were about to be taken over. Back in that time, it was not uncommon for prisoners to be paraded around naked.

It is hard to understand why God would ask him to do it. Sometimes God asks us to do hard things; things that we find awkward or embarrassing. For us, it will most likely not be walking around naked.

The thing is Isaiah did exactly what God asked him to do. I am pretty sure Isaiah had a million questions about why it had to be that way, but he was obedient and did it anyway. He did what God asked him to do—naked and unafraid.

God asks me to do big, scary things a lot. It is outside of my comfort zone that I grow. It doesn’t always have to feel scary; it can be something that feels hard. It can be something like loving my neighbor when I really just want to let them know how I really feel about the things they do that are annoying. Maybe it’s not driving past the person on the corner with a sign assuming that if I help them they will just go do something wrong or unhealthy with the money. Sound familiar?

Obedience to do the right thing will sometimes initially come at the cost of discomfort and uncertainty, but I know for sure that Jesus walked in those shoes. He did what was right, He was obedient to God’s plan, and He did it willingly.

Even though Jesus was God’s son, He learned obedience from the things He suffered.Hebrews 5:8

The more I practice my faith through obedience, the more obedient I become, and the more God is glorified in the process. You and I are called to respond in obedience either through acting or refraining from acting. It’s not to break us down, but to grow us up.

He modeled obedience through true suffering far more than I “suffer” for loving when it’s hard, holding my tongue, or giving without conditions.

I can be better about obedience, being uncomfortable, or doing the right thing when it feels a bit inconvenient. Maybe I can be okay with being naked and unafraid like Isaiah. Sometimes God is radical about the ways He uses to get our attention and take over where we think we are in control.

Unafraid Devo 5.8Prayer: Father God, thank You that You want us to be naked and unafraid to trust You in all things and in all areas of our lives. Help us to choose to trust and obey You at any cost. Forgive me, forgive us, for whining and dragging our feet when You simply want to build us up into the creations You designed us to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Joy and Pain

James 1:2-4

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Written by: Sarah Gauer

I don’t know about you but when I am going through a difficult time, my first reaction is usually not to “consider it pure joy.” Trials are hard! Sometimes we want to give up in the midst of a challenging situation. We want to do things our way rather than submit to God’s will. We want to do whatever we can to avoid a necessary confrontation. We want to soak in the unfairness of our situation.

Most of the time the easiest option is to avoid painful things. We decide to do nothing; to stay right where we are—free of risks, pain, challenges or trials. Sounds good and comfortable, right?

James explains to us that rather than fearing these trials, we can greet them with joyful confidence because of the growth potential on the other side. It doesn’t mean we have to put on a fake happy face when things are hard. It’s about our hopefulness in what God can accomplish in us through the pain. The times when my faith and my character have most been strengthened are when I have taken a risk or let Jesus lead me through a hard time. And those breakthroughs of faith have been beautiful!

Every trial is an opportunity. When we confront a challenge, we have the opportunity to reach out to God, seek His direction, and then get to work doing what He has for us. As we do this, God can teach and grow us in areas we never would have had the chance to experience without first pushing through the tough stuff.

Unafraid Devo 5.7Thought of the day: What trial are you facing today? What would joyful confidence in God’s plan for you look like in this trial?

Prayer: God, thank You for never wasting a hurt. Thank You that I can have joyful confidence in the way You can grow and mature me through ________ if I will trust and follow You. Help me to maintain this perspective as we walk through the pain together. Amen.