Rest Is There

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READ:

So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts.”
Hebrews 4:6-7

REFLECT:

What does it mean for us, that God has set the present moment and opened the door to rest in his presence? Do we take advantage of this access?

Do you find yourself hardening your heart? How is the battle for Sabbath rest going? This week? The past month?

What could be different, in our day-to-day walk, if we obeyed the Lord’s call to rest in him? Specifically, what could be different about your spiritual, emotional, and physical health?

PRAY:

Lord, when you call us today, with your gentle voice, will you give us courage to step into rest? We need your help to trust, to trust that we are not holding the world together, that all things will not fall apart. Teach us the truth, that sometimes the holiest thing we can do is to stop and just be with you. Change our hearts, help us to not resist the gift of simply being. You are good and faithful, you tell us that your rest is here and available. Fill us, LORD, with your peace and breath. Amen.

Preparing For Accessibility

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I was walking with my kids a few weeks ago, and they asked me why the ends of the sidewalks are bumpy. I knew it was so that everyone would feel that they’re about to enter the street, but I didn’t know the whole story so I decided to look into it.

It turns out that “truncated domes” are just one type of tactile paving that spread around the globe from Japan, and is required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since 1991, cities have been retrofitting sidewalks and modifying schools, hospitals and public buildings to comply with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

What’s so striking about this is that all of the empathy and expense is required BEFORE accessibility can be realized. Think about seeing someone unknowingly walk into traffic or struggle to climb the steps outside a medical building. It’s impossible to offer the dignity and honor of true accessibility if we’re reacting in the moment we realize that it’s lacking. As a society, we had to open our eyes and our hearts to how people were being excluded and intentionally take action to correct the shortcomings moving forward.

Isaiah prophetically provided a peak into God’s accessibility design:

“Clear the way through the wilderness
for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!”
– Isaiah 40:3-5

That’s our kind of accessibility! Let’s be on the constant lookout for any tight curves and steep hills and rough places that crop up in our gatherings. And whenever we see anything that gets in the way of accessible worship, let’s join in the preparation work necessary to straighten and flatten and smooth out. Like truncated domes, most people will never notice or realize the full significance of our prep work. But the Holy Spirit just might make it the welcome mat for a special someone. And in our readiness, they will experience the love of God.

Spend some time considering:

  • How could this be applied in our prayer before and during worship?
  • How does this affect our selection of songs and keys?
  • How does this change our approach to rehearsals, personal practice and instrument maintenance?
  • When is the last time you noticed something “get in the way” during one of our worship gatherings? What was it?
  • What needed to be done in that moment? Did you or anyone address or correct it?
  • What needs to be done to prevent it from happening again?
  • How can you improve your sensitivity and empathy toward those who might feel excluded in our gatherings?

New Song: “Longing”

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Hey there, Vineyard family!  It’s time to introduce our June worship tune!

“Longing”, written by Vineyard worship leader Tim Brown, is filled with prayer after prayer for the presence of God.  The song leads us through some fantastic reminders of our crucial need to want God more and more.  We are transformed by the changing of our deepest longings, as the King becomes the desire of our hearts.  And so we pray these words from a verse and chorus of this beautiful song:

“You are worthy of my focus
You are worthy of my offering
You remain my one devotion
For You are good and faithful to redeem
As I stand in awe and reverence
You reveal to me Your true and perfect heart
So I draw into Your presence
For there’s nothing else that I could want
Lord I’m calling

All I want is more of You
All that I need is in Your presence
I’m longing, longing to be with You”

Both in corporate worship time together and in your private times of praise and prayer, we hope that “Longing” will become a helpful and life-giving part of your adoration vocabulary.

As God’s church, let us pray these words over and over:

“I’m after Your heart, seeking Your refuge
Take me where You are
All of my hope, all of my being
Belongs to You”

Listen to the song below:

Charts available on Planning Center

“Clothe Yourselves With Love…”

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Hi friends! I pray you are having a blessed Wednesday!  Today’s devo comes to us from one of our worship leaders, Bethany Mobley.  Let’s reflect:

READ:

“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Colossians 3:12-17

What if we started our day using these few verses as if it were a prayer? What if we asked the Lord to help us live the way Paul describes in this passage? It might be helpful for us to also pray for the fruit of the Spirit, described in Galations 5:22

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patients, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

In both of these passages, we should be reminded that Christ is the source of this kind of life. If we humbly ask him for his tenderhearted mercy for others, Jesus is kind and willing to clothe us with the robe of his likeness and character. The Holy Spirit living within us slowly shapes us and shows us the steps to walk like Christ. Through the Spirit, we’re able to follow the model of Life “clothed with love” Jesus set for us. As we walk in Christ’s example, our lives are characterized by peace, wisdom, thanksgiving, and desire to live in harmony with those around us. Even the difficult work of forgiving those that do us harm, the challenge of showing mercy when we don’t receive mercy, becomes possible because of the message of Christ, “in all its richness”, fills our lives.

Invite Christ to fit you for these clothes. Ask him to tune your heart to hear his voice, to recognize the fruit of the spirit. Allow Christ to fill you anew with his righteousness. Rejoice friends, in this beautiful truth! You are set apart and equipped to live a lifestyle that honors the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God is patient and happy to show us how to live as his children. So let us faithfully “clothe ourselves with love.”

REFLECT:

How often do you pray to be “clothed with love”? What might be different if you started each day asking for God’s help in this?

Which parts of the fruit of the Spirit seem to come more naturally for you? How can you honor God and serve others with those?

Which parts of the fruit of the Spirit are the most difficult for you to live out? Why do you think that is?

How can you use God’s spiritual clothing to uplift and inspire others? How could your relationships look more like the picture in Colossians 3? Would you pray for those things to become true?

PRAY:

“Father you have called me to be holy. I am unconditionally loved by you. Holy Spirit, awaken my soul and clothe me with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make mercy rise up within me for my brother and sister’s faults. Help me to forgive anyone who harms me, just as you forgive me. Above all, clothe me with love, which binds your body together in perfect harmony. Let your peace rule in my heart. Jesus, let the message about you fill my life and dwell in me richly. You are my King and my God, my Rock in whom I trust. I will sing psalms, hymms and many spiritual songs to you with a thankful heart for all that you are to me. Make me your hands feet. Mold me and shape me into the person you have called me to be. Amen.

“Keep a tight grip…”

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READ:

“So, friends, take a firm stand, feet on the ground and head high. Keep a tight grip on what you were taught, whether in personal conversation or by our letter. May Jesus himself and God our Father, who reached out in love and surprised you with gifts of unending help and confidence, put a fresh heart in you, invigorate your work, enliven your speech.”
‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I am lucky. I can’t remember a time in my life when I did not have someone older and wiser walking with me. I have had and currently have mentors and good friends who champion truth, people who have entered into my life to disciple me and guide me as I try to figure out the truth of who God says I am. I read this scripture and I see the faces of those who The Lord has brought into my life to point me to Him. I see memories and moments where truth entered into my life in a way that changed everything. I’ve been going to the Vineyard Church for several years now and I will never forget the first time I heard my pastor, Aaron, speak on 1 John 4… that love is greater than fear. It was revolutionary to me and it changed the way I looked at life and made decisions….

Truth enters into our lives. We learn who we are by the grace of God, in seeking Him with our fellow believers.

But it is so easy to slide back into our old ways…to forget truth in the moments we need it the most.

In John 6, after the crowd has left Jesus because of His teachings, Jesus asked Peter if he would leave too. Peter responds by saying “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

“We have believed and have come to know.” Christ entered into our lives and brought life and love and freedom, and we now spend our days seeking Him and His truth.

I love these verses in 2 Thessalonians. There’s such an active call to “keep a tight grip” on what we have come to know. It is so easy to be distracted, to be impatient, to be selfish, to believe the lies floating around everywhere we turn, yet we must faithfully hold to what we believe. So let’s help one another today to be able to cling to the truth we know, to remind one another. We are no alone in this. Standing firm, feet on the ground and head high, ready to hold onto truth as we join God in the renewal of all things.

REFLECT:

Who in your life helps to lead you to the truth of who God is and the truth of who you are?

What parts of the truth seem to slip away easily from you? How can you tighten your grip?

PRAY:

Jesus, Lord, help us to know what is most true about us. Help us to know what is true about the world around us. Lord we thank you for your grace and kindness, that you would give us gifts of knowing you more and more. Lord, let us remember where we have been and what we have been taught and to carry it boldly into the days you’ve set before us. Lord, let your Kingdom come, in our lives and the world around us. Amen.

Two Great Articles from Dan Wilt

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Happy Wednesday, everyone!

For this week’s devotional meditation, we offer two recent posts from our friend, Dan Wilt.  Take some time to read and reflect on these insightful teachings today.

In the first article, Dan talks about the daily prayer exercise called The Daily Examen.

“The Daily Examen is a portable liturgy, a reorienting rhythm… It is renewing in times of rest, stabilizing in times of crisis, and focusing in times of ministry.”

Read here to learn about this beautifully simple model of prayer.

The second post we want to draw your attention to is a really educational reflection on whether we, as worship leaders, “bring” the Spirit into places of worship.  This is an important topic of reflection as we seek to communicate clear truths to ourselves, our teams, and our congregations during worship gatherings.

Please read that article here.

Dan is a great friend to our church family, worship leader, writer, and pastor.  Please consider checking out all of his wonderful material at danwilt.com

Have a wonderful rest of your week, remember God’s faithful goodness and turn your hearts and minds towards him!

Truth Springs Up From The Earth

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READ:

“Unfailing love and truth have met together. Righteousness and peace have kissed! Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven. Yes, the LORD pours down his blessings. Our land will yield its bountiful harvest. Righteousness goes as a herald before him, preparing the way for his steps.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭85:10-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

What a beautiful Psalm for the week of Easter. This weekend we celebrate the death of Death. The Great Deceiver assumed he had won as our Savior lay in his tomb, but little did he know that Christ would undo his greatest trick and rise from the dead. Death was not the end—not even close. All things are being made new!

The Psalmist looks to the future, to the coming of Christ, in this Psalm of praise about the Lord’s goodness. Our hearts declare the same praises as we look back to Christ’s coming and ahead to his return. Christ ushered in his Kingdom during his time on Earth, beginning God’s good mission of renewing all things. And wonder of wonders, he not only makes us new, but invites and empowers us by his spirit to join in this holy work. What joy!

So our devotion will have a simple, but important conclusion. This week—especially this week—take time to rejoice! “Truth springs up from the earth, and righteousness smiles down from heaven.” Oh, what goodness and love God has for us! Let Easter be a reminder and the beginning of a daily celebration of God’s love, shown to us through his Son. Let us not be solemn and contemplative when it comes to his resurrection. He has defeated Sin & Death, and he has rescued us from their grip. So again I say, “Rejoice!”

PRAY:

Father,
We thank you and give you praise. Your heart towards us is goodness and kindness and love. You have rescued us, saved us, renewed us, and gifted us. Thank you. We are blessed by your love, and honored by the invitation to join you in what you are doing. Lord, we celebrate you. We celebrate your Son. We celebrate the Holy Spirit. We give you praise and gratitude for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We give you praise and gratitude for our life, death, and resurrection through Christ. We love you! This Easter we give you our gratitude, thanksgiving, and appreciation. We love you Father and rejoice in you, your Son, and your Spirit! [Offer a prayer of rejoice in your own words.]
In the name of the one who has risen, Amen.

Every Opportunity

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It’s Wednesday and it’s devo time!  This week’s meditation is from our friend and worship leader, Brooks Coker.  Let’s jump in:

READ:

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭4:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Through the groaning of the earth and the disorder of the world around us, it is evident that every interaction we have is crucial. What if our actions not only affect us, but affect how other people may perceive Christ? What if the words we say have the potential to affect the decisions other people make? Well, they do.

This verse specifically talks about how we are to live around those who are not believers. I believe that it is absolutely crucial that we set a good example through our speech and actions. Recently the urgency of the heavenly charge to make disciples has become very real to me. The truth is that we don’t know what could happen to us today, tomorrow, or next week. In light of this, I pray that the things I do and say will make a positive impact on the people around me, in every opportunity.

A friend of mine was talking to me about his passion for people. Most of the people he surrounds himself with are unbelievers. He believes that his mission is to live in as much Christ-likeness as possible so that he may be a witness to the people around him. He told me that when he is gone, or when Christ returns, he wants people to know the truth because of the way that he lived.

A neat illustration is the image of the cross and how there are two beams: there is a vertical beam and a horizontal beam (†). I thank God for the fact that we can have intimacy with him through a vertical relationship; similarly, we are able to have intimacy in our personal relationships.

REFLECT:

What are some speech habits or behaviors that I might need to change in order to best represent the Body of Christ?

Think of some relationships that you can be intentional about growing positively, whether they are with believers or non-believers.

PRAY:

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Remind us daily that we are set apart. I pray that we remain humble in that fact. God, would you place positive conversations in our lives. Help us to see the good in the people and situations around us. We hunger and thirst for you. Thank you for your provision, thank you for every opportunity. Amen.

Rooted In Christ

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READ:

“And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:6-7‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

How do we let our roots grow down into Christ, as Paul instructs us to do in this passage? What can we do to let God nourish our hearts, ministries, relationships, bodies, and souls? Are we overflowing with thankfulness and joy?

Is this difficult for you right now? Have you gotten distracted and planted yourself in shaky foundations, or are you wrestling at all with the soil of your old life?

Since we have accepted Jesus as our Lord, we have the challenge and gift of continually following our Savior, of seeking intimacy with Christ. Ask yourself the first reflection question again, and then ask God to talk with you about what this season of life could look like with your roots burrowed in his love.

PRAY:

Gentle Jesus, our strong foundation, thank you for the abundant life that only you can give. I ask, even with trembling faith, that you would plant my heart, mind, body, and soul deeply in your goodness. Please show me what it means to be overflowing from a strong and growing trust in who you are. When I am weak, when I am tempted, remind me that following you fulfills my every need. Make me like you, I ask in your name, Jesus. Amen.

A Deep Sense of Awe

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READ:

“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper ), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders… all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.”
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭2:43, 45, 47‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

This passage from the New Testament gives us a picture of the early Church’s ministry, after the Spirit’s outpouring at Pentecost. What was it about God’s Spirit that caused the believers to dive deeply into such devoted life as a community?

What is the relationship between the “deep sense of awe” that overwhelmed Christ’s followers and their devotion to acting as the Church? How do the two, the awe of expectation and the committed devotion to Jesus’ new way of life, build upon each other?

How do you think Jesus was adding to the church each day? What was it about the way the Body of Christ lived that drew people and let the Church enjoy the “goodwill of all the people”?

Are there parts of the life of a disciple that you need to devote yourself to anew? What would look different about your praise, your service, and the other ways you worship if you asked God to continually fill you with this transformative awe and wonder?

PRAY:

Father, will you fill me afresh with your Spirit? I want to be overcome by the majesty of your love, let me not be numb or stagnant. Help me, Jesus, to devote myself to your teachings, to your compassion, and to your calling. Please build up kingdom expectation in my heart each morning, I want miraculous faith and love to overflow from what you’re doing in my heart. I ask that people would come to know you, to join your family because of the way my whole community lives in resurrection life together. I ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.