Treasures of Wisdom

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This week’s devotional is by Taylor Hall. Check it out!

READ:
“I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Colossians 2:2-3 NLT

Paul wrote this letter to the believers in the city of Colossae. He was encouraging them to explore the mystery that is Jesus and the knowledge and wisdom that He brings. He’s talking about people who are joined together in love—the Body of Christ.

Just like this scripture instructed those early Christians, Paul is calling us to encourage each other and unite in love.

Our nation and world is full of the pain and chaos caused by disunity. Many are looking for answers where there is no understanding of God’s mysterious plan. But the truest thing about each of us is Christ in us. As believers, we can offer one another Christ himself.

It can be really confusing to know what Godly love is. 1 John 4:8 says that, “God is love.” We are called to love as He loves, and the only way to know God’s love is to know God. As we hear him in scripture and experience the presence of the Holy Spirit, we are taught how to love in miraculous ways. Through us, God’s love brings hope where there was only hurt and joy where there had only been mourning. He gives us freedom from fear and fills us with love, power, and self-control. When love is expressed this way, we get to see the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ.

REFLECT:

Set aside a couple minutes to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to you.  Ask the Lord to teach you how to bring unity, ask him to reveal “treasures of wisdom” in Christ.  What comes to your mind?

Are you in relationships that are able to encourage and challenge you spiritually? Do you provide that for others?

What does it look like to show the world God’s mysterious plan in Christ?  How do we unite and love each other in a way that is contagious and impossible to ignore?

PRAY:

Lord, thank you for making yourself known to us. Help us to know your wisdom and to have a desire for knowledge. Thank you for setting up people in our lives to encourage and challenge us in our walk with you. Give us wisdom to discern your perfect love. Help us to seek truth, to seek you, above all else.

Starting Right Now

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Hey friends!  This week’s worship devo is brought to us by our very own, Vance Davis  (worship leader, keys player, songwriter, bro).

READ:

“God’s readiness to give and forgive is now public. Salvation’s available for everyone! We’re being shown how to turn our backs on a godless, indulgent life, and how to take on a God-filled, God-honoring life. This new life is starting right now, and is whetting our appetites for the glorious day when our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, appears. He offered himself as a sacrifice to free us from a dark, rebellious life into this good, pure life, making us a people he can be proud of, energetic in goodness.”
‭‭Titus‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭MSG‬

God is always here for you. The Lord is not like that “friend” who says “I’m here for you” then leaves at the first opportunity. He promises that he will never leave you nor forsake you. He’s our faithful Father. God knows what you’ve been through, and he loves you even through your failures and falls. He doesn’t require you to be spotless when you come to him, because he’s already been with you in your trials. All he asks is that you don’t wait to draw closer to him to look for him. He wants you to jump in, right now. No landmark moments are required to get started. He just wants us to be “energetic in goodness” and hunger for the Spirit’s presence. God wants us to actively seek him, to not be ashamed or “wait for the right moment.” God knows who we are, and he refused to hesitate in his offer of love and life.

REFLECT:

What events might be holding me back from pursuing God?

What can I do to be more energetic in following God?

What can I do to show others that salvation is available, not just for the composed, but for those in chaos?

What does a God-filled, God-honoring life look like? What are my next steps to live that life?

How does this passage affect my view of God, myself, and our relationship?

Boldly To The Throne

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READ:

“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

Scripture tells us to “hold firmly to what we believe” because we have confident hope in Christ, our great High Priest. He brings us to the Father, he makes us new and calls us righteous. What makes Jesus so much greater than the high priests of old?

What does it mean for us, that Christ understands our weaknesses? If we want to live like Jesus, how do we react to the weaknesses and struggles of those around us? Does the life and example of Christ give us hope of actually defeating sin, once we receive his life and Spirit?

What does it mean to come boldly before God’s throne? Do we view him as a gracious God, overflowing with welcome for us?

The end of this passage holds a wonderful promise: that we will receive mercy and grace “to help us when we need it most.” What does this say about the open-handedness of the Father? What kind of access do we have to Abba’s good gifts?

PRAY:

Thank you, Jesus. We love you for who you are. You bring us to the throne of the gracious Father, and there, in the radiance of Abba’s smiling face, we receive the mercy, the grace, and the love we need. All the joy that could be desired is poured out freely, so help us draw near to you, God. Holy Spirit, will you remind our forgetful, distracted minds that we have a High Priest that knows and understands all of our weakness. We share in resurrection life, kingdom life, because Christ took our shame and sin. We are free, free to come boldly to the throne and the arms of our Father. Hallelujah! We love you, Lord. Amen.

With One Mind & Purpose

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It’s Wednesday!  I pray that y’all are aware of God’s ever-present love for you today.  This week’s worship devotional is written by Brooks Coker, our pre-teen ministry worship pastor.  Let’s dig into this reflection from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

READ:

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

In our everyday walk of becoming more like Christ Jesus, we are called to come together in agreement. Maybe not in agreement over politics or over who we think should have won a grammy, but in agreement of belonging to Christ, in agreement of his love, in agreement of communion. This should challenge us to put away our pride and our innate desire to impress others. These are things that Satan uses to eat away at our integrity.

The good news is that, as we seek and grow closer to Christ, we will also grow closer to each other. As we grow closer to Christ our hearts will become tender and compassionate. The more I understand the grace that God has given to me, the more I want to extend that grace to my brothers and sisters.

Ask God to search your heart and point out some attitudes that don’t align with Christ’s.

Are you thinking of others as better than yourself? Are you taking interest in others? This concept is much different than what our modern society teaches us today.

How can I continue to love and work together with my worship community? How can we better walk in humility?

PRAY:

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are amazing and you deserve of all of our praise. Would you continue to shape us? Would you fulfill the longing we have for wholeness and rest in you? Help us to see our brothers and sisters as fellow image bearers. Lord, would you establish unity and comradery among us? We pray that our worship would be pleasing to you. Amen

Where They Meet

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This week’s reflection comes to us from Kelsi Walker, one of our venue worship pastors.

“Sin and grace, absence and presence, tragedy and comedy, they divide the world between them and where they meet head on, the gospel happens.”
– Frederick Buechner

There are these moments in our walk with the Lord here on earth that seem paradoxical. They are the moments that we can’t wrap our minds around because they are beyond this world and closer to Kingdom than to earth. My friend, Lindsay Mizell, talks about thin places, where the veil between heaven and earth is not as wide…. I think this is what that quote is talking about. I think of moments when heaven and earth collide and the goodness and power of God cannot be overlooked. I look at this quote above and think of a dozen stories in the Gospel when Jesus meets people or enters a new town. Jesus comes into the picture and turns the story upside down and brings what is lacking.

In John chapter 6, there is a field of hungry people, there is no food and people’s stomachs and souls are hungry. He feeds them and then in the same chapter tends to their souls in teaching them of His ways, the ways of God. Where there is hunger, Jesus provides food.

In Mark chapter 5 there is a man with an unclean spirit that Jesus meets. Men and women are afraid of the man and they have purposefully stayed away from the man. Jesus went to him and confronted the spirit. Where there is captivity, Jesus provides rescue.

In the same chapter there is a woman who had been sick for 12 years. She was seen as unclean as well. She had spent all of her money and time trying to be healed. She had the faith to touch Jesus’s hem as He walked by her and she was instantly healed. Where there is brokenness, Jesus provides healing.

Following this, still in Mark 5, Jesus goes to a man’s house because His daughter is sick and dying. By the time they get there, the little girl is dead. Jesus goes to her and says “little girl, I say to you get up,” and she wakes up. Where there is death, Jesus provides life!

Today, we are hungry and need rescue. We are broken and need real life. We are still sinners, yet loved and living in Grace! We are living in a fallen world, but because of Jesus we can experience the presence of God. Our lives somehow seems too bad to be true and too good to be true all at the same time. This Sunday, we sinners will sit in a church, or middle school, or theater and find grace after grace as the Spirit enters into the picture and turns our stories upside down and brings what is lacking. We experience the “already and the not yet” as the gospel is happening in our lives, fighting for us, as sin and grace, absence and presence, and tragedy and comedy meet head on.

Reflect:

When was the last time you had a moment that seemed closer to Kingdom than to earth? Was it a big event, or maybe just your morning quiet time? Do you look for these moments often enough?

Do you relate to one of these gospel stories more than another? Why is that? What is lacking in your life that Jesus can provide?

Do you feel the gospel happening in your life today?

Prayer:

Spirit come. This is confusing at times, it is easy to doubt if you are here and working. We are needy and the world hurts and longs for You. Let us be mindful of the ways you are working, mindful of the ways that You reach into our lives and bring us closer to You. You bring healing, You bring rescue, You bring life! May we understand You and Your love more and may we love others the same. Let our hearts be devoted to you today and every day. We love you Lord. Amen.

New Song & Devo: “Reconcile (God of Justice)”

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Hey there, church family!

This month we’re going to be singing a new song called “Reconcile (God of Justice)”. The original tune was written by Kelsi Walker with some cowriting from Grady Milligan, both leaders in our church’s musical worship community.

Our Abba is a God full of overflowing love for the broken and the hurting. We pray that, as we lift our joined voices in prayer and song this month, our church would see and hear and feel the Lord’s heart. The voiceless, the forgotten, those trapped in darkness: our God commissions his Church to love and to lay down our lives for the least of these.

For today’s devotional prayer meditation, spend some time reading the lyrics of the new tune and praying through them:

“God of justice, break our hearts
May we know who the hurting are
Our brothers and sisters, bruised from the fight
Bring your hope God, reconcile… Lord reconcile

God of healing, mend our hearts
May we see who the broken are
Our brothers and sisters, we stand by their side
To bring your peace, God, and be reconciled

Oh God, you’ve come, you’ve given us
Your life, your hope, your freedom
So let us be your hands and feet
As here on earth, your kingdom comes

God of grace, fill our hearts
May we go where the lonely are
Let the words from our mouth and the thoughts on our mind
Reflect only you, Lord reconcile

The earth cries out for more
We cry out for more
Lord come….
May what’s broken be restored

Oh God, you’ve come, you’ve given us
Your life, your hope, your freedom
So let us be your hands and feet
As here on earth, your kingdom comes”

REFLECTION:

Who are the broken, the hurting, the lonely in your community, in your town? Ask the Lord and listen to what he might say.

Think on the times of struggle in your own life, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional. When have you been the broken or the hurting? How did the Lord minister to you in those times? How can you be the hands and feet of Christ in the same ways for others?

The Secret’s Out

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Luke 8:16-17
“No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.

I grew up believing these verses were a threat that Jesus would tell all my darkest secrets. And God does have a way of bringing things to light, doesn’t he? But over the years, I’ve come to understand a different meaning. Check out what the Cambridge Greek Testament has to say:

“[Jesus] is not thinking of the discovery of crimes, but of the right use and further dissemination of Divine light. The truths now revealed privately to faithful hearers, and only dimly shadowed forth to others, should soon be flashed over all the world. Parables first yielded their full significance to the disciples, but found “a springing and germinant fulfillment in every age.”

That totally changes it! Now I feel grateful, not nervous. I’m confident, not cowering because I’m living proof that it’s true. God’s truth used to be reserved for a select few. But Jesus came and put his glory on display… even to me! He has dropped truth directly into my heart and mind. He has spoken to me through scripture. He’s even revealed himself through other broken people.

And he wants to use us worship leaders to let even more people in on the secret. 

  • Have you ever discovered one of God’s “secrets” through the words of scripture or the faithfulness of people who know him?
  • Has God ever shown you something in private that you later shared with other people?
  • How does this change the way you think of private worship and Bible study?

Loving Others Well

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Happy Thursday!  Welcome to this week’s worship team devotional.  Sam McGhee brings us a really insightful meditation from Romans 12, let’s jump in:

READ:

Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.
Romans 12:9-10 NET

This isn’t as much new information at it is a reminder. In the preceding verses Paul has encouraged his readers to use their gifts and use them well, as we are all gifted differently. But in verses 9-10, Paul focuses on love—a gift, attribute and expectation of every believer. As followers of Christ, our call is to love others as Christ has loved us. We are to love authentically (“without hypocrisy”), and to abhor what is evil and cling to what it good. Love sincerely, and choose good (even when it’s difficult). When it means helping the boss that makes your life harder, or that one family member who you don’t get along with. Authentic Christ-like love demands good. It doesn’t ignore the truth of a persons wrongs, sins, failures, or shortcomings, but it does mean responding to all those things with love.

Verse 10 tells us to be “devoted to one another with mutual love.” In last Sunday’s sermon Aaron talked about how being devoted to something means you have marked out a space for it. A great example is daily devotional reading. If you’ve marked out 30 minutes a day for studying scripture then that half hour is devoted solely to reading and nothing else. The same is true for our devotion to one another. We mark out specific space in our hearts and lives for one another. Space to love one another “with mutual love.” The Greek word used here is philadelphia or “brotherly love.” Paul is calling us to love authentically, choose good, love with devotion, and love like family.

Paul ends the verse by admonishing us to be eager to honor one another, or place a high value on others. That is something our team does well. The family atmosphere of our rehearsals and gatherings is a real blessing every time I am a part of one. So I would encourage us to keep it up and make it verbal! Tell someone what you appreciate about them, encourage them, and be specific. Part of choosing good, is calling out the good you see in others and building that up.

Lastly, loving others authentically and like family extends into many areas of our life. The challenge is to do this where we may not want to, or where we may feel uncomfortable. But this is where life will spring up, and others will encounter the love of Christ through you. One of best ways is to carry that “eagerness to honor one another” everywhere we go, is to lift others up—to tell them why we appreciate them, what they’ve done well, to thank them, to point out the good in them and build them up. You would be surprised how much light this will bring into a dark space.

REFLECT:

  • How do you feel you about how you love others authentically and choose good? As you think about this question, is God bringing to mind any ways or specific relationships where you could do better at choosing good?
  • How can you devote yourself to brotherly love in your relationships? Do you make space in your heart and life to love others? How could you do this better?
  • Who are some people that you could honor this week and how could you encourage them specifically? At school? At work? At church? At home? In class? In your contacts? On the worship team? In your family?

PRAY:

Father, help me to love others as you have loved me. Help me to be authentic, devoted like family, and to choose good. Give me your eyes to recognize the good in others. Fill me with the boldness to speak up and tell those persons, to point out the good that you have placed in them. Let me build them up and help them recognize the image of yourself that you have placed in them. God, help me to devote space in my heart to relationships, to be diligent, intentional, and committed to loving others well. I praise you for the love you have shown me. Help me to show that same love you others. Amen.

Do Everything With Love

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Happy Thursday, everyone!  Today’s devotion was written by our own, Kelsi Walker.  We’re meditating on our worship value of INTEGRITY this month, so let’s jump right into this short-but-transformational word from one of Paul’s letters.

READ:

“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.”

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Do everything with love….

This is what Paul was asking his fellow believers. When they went out into their circles of friends, into the market place, into town meetings, wherever their lives led them… to do everything with love. As scripture tells us, that is exactly what they did. As history tells us, it changed everything.

2,000 years later we can see that this is what the world needs more of and that this command still rings true. As we cling to scripture for direction, I pray that we, as a worship team and church, look to this verse. That our actions and decisions come from a foundation of love. That the love of Christ changes us, gets inside of us, and flows out of us.

For us, just as it was with the early church, everything starts with Jesus. We cannot know how to love if we do not know how loved we are. We cannot know what love is if we don’t experience it through knowing God. God is the source of love. God is love. Followers of Jesus do everything with love, so we do everything with God. We stand firm in the faith that God is with us and that He loves us enough to never leave us or give up on us. This belief changes us and the way we do things. As followers of Christ, as worship team members, as friends, as brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, we are urged to take that love that has changed us into the world. We are commissioned to go to those without. Wherever we go, what ever we do, we do everything with love.

Reflection:

Try to imagine the early church and the ways that they went out into the community. Imagine what doing everything with love looked like. In what ways do you think that effort is the same for us as the church today? What does it look like for you, right now?

Think of the rest of your week, how can you intentionally do everything with love?

How does this scripture fit into your life and into your role as worship team member?

Pray:

Lord, help us to know your love more and more every day. We want to follow you and your example as you teach us how to do everything in love. We love you Jesus, help us to cling to you and your word this week as we dive into friendship, relationships with family, work, and leading in music. Lord, let us seek you first and let Your love change everything. Amen.

“…With Purpose In Every Step”

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READ:

“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭9:24-27‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

This passage is challenging for most Christians. We love the Lord, we really do. Our lives are whole because of God’s eternal love and person and goodness. So why is consistent training & discipline so difficult for us? In our spiritual life, physical life, and relational life?

Do you believe that every purposeful step makes a difference? Do you struggle with doubt, with a worry that you may just be shadowboxing? Why might accountability and encouragement within trusted community be critical here?

Paul’s last statement in this passage raises a legitimate concern for leaders. What is the danger in preaching what we, ourselves, do not faithfully practice?

What are a few things that you want to see growth in over the next 6 months? What realistic, achievable steps can you take to see disciplined victory in training those things? Take a moment or two, or maybe even the rest of the day to humbly ask the Lord for direction. Ask God, “Where do I need to grow, and what are a few simple steps I can take to be faithful?”

PRAY:

Father, Son, & Holy Spirit
Please help your children. We are so easily tired, our strength disappears so quickly.
But we know that, in you, there is strength for the weary and joy that energizes weak hearts.
Lord, we want to run your race with faithfulness and courage.
We thank you for every time you pick us up and carry us until we can run anew.
Never let us lose sight of the prize, keep our eyes ever on your wonder and majesty.
You are faithful and your promises are true. Help us grow strong in your love.
In the name of Jesus, we pray. Amen. Amen. Amen.