“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.

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.

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.

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

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.

New Wine in New Wineskins

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Devotion for September 14, 2016
Worship Value of The Month: Integrity

READ:

Then Jesus gave them this illustration: “No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and uses it to patch an old garment. For then the new garment would be ruined, and the new patch wouldn’t even match the old garment. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the new wine would burst the wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins. But no one who drinks the old wine seems to want the new wine. ‘The old is just fine,’ they say.”
Luke‬ ‭5:36-39‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

What do the new garment and new wineskins represent in Jesus’ illustration?

What is Christ talking about when he says “the new wine would burst the [old] wineskins, spilling the wine and ruining the skins”? Why is it so critical that the new wine be stored in the new skins?

Who do you think Jesus is referring to when he speaks of those that say, “the old is just fine,” who are the ones that don’t want the new wine? Why are they resistant to the new?

As leaders and worshippers, brought to life by Christ, how should our actions and witness reflect the inner filling of new wine? What should look different than it did in our old lives, our old skins?

PRAY:

Father, thank you for making me anew and clothing me with your robe of salvation.

Jesus, please be my daily rescue and help me to resist my old skin, my old self.

Holy Spirit, fill me afresh and use me to pour out your kingdom’s restoration.