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

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?

New Song / Devo: “Since Your Love”

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Hello Church family!!!

This month our new song might not seem so new to you, especially if you’ve been around House Worship or the Youth ministry. Throughout March, we will be singing “Since Your Love” by United Pursuit.

I have a lot of excitement for this song to be sung on Sunday mornings. There is a lot of truth woven throughout this song, but I keep coming back to the chorus:

I was made by You
I was made for you
I am unfulfilled without full communion

Every Sunday as we worship our Lord, we take time in our service to prepare our hearts for communion. We ask for forgiveness for when we try to do life alone. At a bible study, I once heard that sin in our lives takes place when we arrange for life to happen without God. But we were made for God, to live in response to his loving pursuit. Every Sunday, in remembrance of the Cross, we take communion. We look to Jesus and what He has done for us, dying on the Cross, paying the debt of sin so that we are made clean…. so that we can be in communion with our Heavenly Father.

There is forgiveness. There is grace that accepts us even after we arrange for life to happen without God. There is a gift of a new life in communion with God our Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit! There is love, endless love. Once we come to know this love, our lives will never be the same again.

Reflect on these lyrics and on your walk with God.

You are the light
Song of my life
You always lead me
You are the voice inside

You are my love
No one before you
All that I am
Points to You

I was made by you
I was made for you
I am unfulfilled without full communion

Since your love got a hold of me
Since your love got a hold of me
I’m a new creation
I’m forever changed

I was made by you
I was made for you
I am unfulfilled without full communion

In you, is all I need
You’re my breath, you’re my life, you’re my everything

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, we thank you. You loved us enough to die for us, to make a way for us to be with You and the Father. Lord we ask for the patience and discipline to abide with You. Help us live in Your love, for it has changed us forever. Continue to change us Lord, make us more like You! Lord, your love covers us, it breathes life into us, we only come alive when we are with You. In you, is all we need, You’re our breath, our life, our everything. Amen.

Chord Chart available on Planning Center

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?