“God Doesn’t Come And Go”

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READ:

O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “ GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬ ‭MSG‬‬

REFLECT:

Do you ever find yourself raising the same complaints as Israel? Have you made the same angry claims to God, in moments of frustration and chaos?

“God doesn’t come and go. God lasts.” Why does this truth change everything? Does it encourage you to know that God doesn’t ever need a “breather” or a break from you? You cannot exhaust God!

Where do you find yourself this week? Are you soaring, running, walking… or maybe crawling? Have you been striving in your own weakness, when the Father offers you his everlasting strength?

Our Father is the “Creator of all you can see or imagine”. Do you believe that God wants to do greater things with and for you than you can fathom?

PRAY:

Father, your love for us never fails and never grows weary. Thank you for being the Creator and Author, unimaginable in your wonder, and yet so close. We thank you, Jesus, for finding us when we were lost. You have poured out your life to fill us with righteousness and bring us to the Father. And to you, Holy Spirit, we give our thanks and praise for the wind in our lungs. It is by your power that we can soar, run, and walk faithfully. Abba, Christ, and Spirit, you are so wonderful. You are the everlasting God, to you be the glory. Amen.

The Fellowship of Believers

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READ:

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:42-47‬ ‭NIV‬‬

REFLECT:

In this passage, we see that the early church was radically devoted to community. Intimacy with God and intimacy with our brothers and sisters in Christ are central to our faith.

What are some things that we can be doing to foster deeper roots of community? How can we seek to “break bread and give to anyone who has need” in order to “add to our number daily those who are being saved”?

What part does our personal “greenspace” with the Lord play in developing depth in our other relationships?

As a worship family and church, how can we grow in selflessness and genuine compassion for one another? What are the selfish needs of our own that we may need to set aside?

PRAY:

Father, we ask you, as your children, to teach us how to live full of compassion. Open our eyes to the needs of our brothers and sisters so that our selfishness will be washed away. Jesus, we owe you everything. Remind us to freely give of ourselves as you freely gave all of yourself. Spirit, in your power, bind us together in unity and intimacy. Your miraculous power is so wonderful and we desire to see more healing, freedom, restoration, and life as we live and love in community. Thank you, God. You are drawing your people to you and toward each other. Let us follow your lead and see revival born out of fellowship. In the name of Jesus, amen.

New Song: “Degree By Degree”

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Our new song for August is another homegrown song called “Degree By Degree.” This song is an original written by me, Kelsi Walker, along with help from a group of our songwriters.

This song was inspired by 2 Corinthians 3:18:

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

We as believers trust that our God is loving and near, but sometimes circumstance can cause us to wonder if the Lord is present in our lives. But the scriptures say that from one degree of glory to the next, the Lord is making us more like Himself. Slowly, the Lord is restoring us and bringing us to back to life. In these times of confusion and questioning the Lord, we as His people can trust that He who began a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:16) He is our redeemer and rescuer and comes for us still. And so we sing:

I wait on you, Lord.
You have not forgotten me, not forgotten me
I trust in you, Lord.
You’ll finish what you start in me, what you start in me

This song is a reminder that He is good and that he sees us. There is more glory still to come from knowing Him, the King of Kings, our shepherd, our father and our friend. We wait and believe that He is bringing us new mercies every day. When we cannot feel His presence, we wait and have faith that He is a God who loves us too much to leave us and that He is transforming our lives in the midst of our days.

We hope to record this one soon. In the meantime, worship team members can check out the chart & demo on Planning Center.

Seek First His Kingdom

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This week’s devotion comes to us from Kelsi Walker, one of our worship leaders here at the Vineyard.

READ:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:25-34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As I write this, I am sitting outside. It just stopped raining, and the sun is setting as it casts a glow on Spring’s fresh creation. The birds are outside, singing their songs. I cannot help but think that the world speaks to us through the seasons and change. It speaks that God is in control and provides what we need with each day. The same rain that sometimes seems burdensome is what brings life to the grounds around us. The trees grow from the ground as we breathe in the fresh spring air.

God provides.

It is sometimes hard to trust that we are taken care of, that God is in control. It is much easier to believe that we have to do things to earn what we have, and that if we try hard enough we can fix all of our own problems. We have been taught to focus on what we don’t have, whether it is materialistic or wishing for things to go our own way. It is our default. But this is not the way of the Gospel, the Good News. The way of the Gospel is to trust our Father and to seek Him first. To trust that, as we seek first the Kingdom of God, that He himself will provide what is needed. Even when God’s provision doesn’t look like what we think we want. We are anxious and troubled about many things, but there is one thing that is necessary…

To sit at the feet of Jesus and to seek first His kingdom.

REFLECT:

What are you worried about today?
What are some things that get in the way of seeking God’s kingdom?
How can you give those things to your Abba Father today?
In what way can you seek the Kingdom today and throughout the rest of the week?

PRAY:

Oh loving Father, we trust you. We trust that as we put you and your kingdom first in our lives that all of our needs will be met. We trust that our lives are in your hands and that our worries will fade away in the light of your glory. Help us today. Be near to us, as we seek your will for our lives. We know that you are good to your children. We know that, if we seek you, we will find you. Thank you for your constant love. Let us live in that love and freedom today. Amen.

Treasures In Heaven

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Happy Wednesday, everyone!  This week’s worship devo comes to us from one of our wonderful worship leaders, Taylor Trube.  Let’s jump in!

READ:

Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light.
Matthew 6:19-22 MSG

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light.
Matthew 6:19-22 NLT

REFLECT:
In this passage, Jesus warns us not to stockpile treasures on earth where the moths can eat away at them and thieves can steal and destroy them. Why? What is significant about Jesus’ illustration with the thieves and the moths?

Christ tells us to store up treasures in heaven. What sort of treasure is Jesus talking about?

What are the desires of your heart? Do they line up with scripture and what Jesus desires for us?

The Lord teaches the disciples about the importance of where they direct their focus.  What our eyes are looking at is what we will be filled with. So how can we fix our eyes on the Lord?

PRAY:
Jesus, thank you for your words and for your truth. Lord, help us store up treasures in heaven. Spirit, give us wisdom and discernment to know your voice and to know your heart. Change and transform us, Father.  Align us with your vision and your love for people.  Fill us with your light, Jesus. Amen.

Our Father: A Prayer of Intimacy

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Hey friends!  This week’s worship devotion comes to us from our friend, Noah Kropp.  Let’s dive in.

READ:
This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭6:9-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬

REFLECT:
When Jesus’ disciples ask him how they should pray, Christ starts his model prayer with the Hebrew word “Abba”. This is the equivalent of a child saying “daddy” or even “dadda”. Why is this significant?

If we think about the intimate way Jesus spoke to the Father, how should it shape the way we approach our “Abba”? As worship leaders?

It’s clear from Christ’s prayer model that God wants us to come to him about our physical, emotional, and spiritual need. But HOW we approach God is just as important. God WANTS us to come to him, like little children.

PRAYER:
Abba, we want to be close to you. As leaders of your Church, teach us how to draw close to you in child-like boldness. You tell us to ask for your kingdom to come, help us be faithful to do so. Thank you for supplying us, our team, and our church family with our “daily bread”. We ask for it every day. We belong to you. We’re so grateful and we love being your children.

Cultivating Personal Green Space with Dan Wilt

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I sat down with Dan Wilt last fall at the Vineyard Worship Leaders Retreat in Montreat, NC to record his thoughts for our worship team on the subject of “cultivating personal green space.” I’m privileged to count Dan as a friend, and he has been a tremendous help to me in this area. I’m really excited that you get to hear from him.

We live next to one of the greatest green spaces in the world. But can you imagine what would’ve happened to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park if it had never been intentionally guarded, conserved, and cultivated? It would be fully developed with cell towers, resorts, rental cabins, neon signs, and amusement parks. These are things we like and appreciate, but there’s a reason no one lives at Dollywood. The screams of the Wild Eagle make me even more grateful for the serene sound that can only be heard behind Grotto Falls.

This month, we’re focusing on our value of intimacy in worship, and green space is the starting point. There’s a richness and depth in Christ that’s only available when we intentionally define our personal green space, and then guard and cultivate it. Grab a notebook & take a few minutes to listen to Dan instruct us and give us loving nudges towards deeper spiritual formation.

Standout Moments:

  • 0:50 Life is made up of rhythms. The World runs on rhythms. There are cycles in creation that are equilibrium, tension and release.
  • 3:50 The challenge of the Christian life is how we manage our rhythms.
  • 4:35 We all know that life is lived in moments, it’s lived in hours. It’s lived in… the Daily Office hours.
  • 5:19 I believe the Lord wants us to be a people who’s sabbaths are not weekly. But who’s sabbaths are daily.
  • 6:30 The daily office was intended for us to look back on the last three hours and say, “Lord, I give you thanks for the last three hours. All that you were doing…” It’s like this catharsis, and you give it to the Lord. And then you look forward to the next three hours and you say, “Now in these next three hours, Lord, make me attentive to you… I welcome your Spirit to empower me to do this.”
  • 7:25 If you don’t have the rhythm, you won’t get thirsty. You’ll simply lap up when you need it, or what more happens is your body, and your mind, and everything else screams at you, “You NEED a sabbath!” after six months of too much stress and burnout. And then people take forced sabbaths because their body shut down on them or they started to loose their perspective, they get depressed… Now I’ve dealt with depression most of my life – severe depression. This has been a primary healing factor for me.
  • 8:28 Matt is super creepy.
  • 9:20 Any new habit is rocket science to break into… Because you’ve spent, and I’ve spent decades forming what we don’t know is an alternative habit, which is dismissal of those things.
  • 10:18 Don’t do this by chance. You don’t know what you don’t know. So rely on someone who knows.
  • 11:51 Don’t get discouraged. Everyone goes through this, I went through it. But it is a wall you have to punch through, and we need to pray for each other.

About Dan:

Dan Wilt, M.Min. is Director of Communications & Resources for Vineyard USA. He has served as senior pastor, worship leader, professor, and mentor to countless worship leaders in North America and beyond. Dan lives in Franklin, TN with his wife, Anita, and three amazing children – Anna, Abigail, and Benjamin. Dan also leads worship at the Vineyard Church of Franklin, TN.

Resources Dan Mentioned:

Connect With Dan:

The Nearness of The King

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Read these two passages of scripture, the first from Isaiah and the second from Jesus’ teaching as recorded by Luke.

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:1-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.” – ‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:1-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In the words of Isaiah, we hear the hopeful cry of God’s people waiting on their King. In the birth of Jesus, and as we celebrate this advent season, we rejoice because the King has come! And as we continue to pray like Jesus taught the disciples to, we call for the kingdom to come and break through remaining darkness. In struggle and in joy, we obediently trust Christ and believe Him when He says that we can ask for the intimate nearness of the kingdom. Our God, our Savior, and our greatest Love is never far away.

This Christmas weekend, meditate on the closeness of Emmanuel:

The King has come, the King is HERE, the King is coming again. Hallelujah.

The King Sings Over You

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“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
‭‭Zephaniah‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Hear these words again and let each part of this promise wash over you.

God is with you.
God saves you.
God gladly rejoices over you.
God gives peace and quiets your soul with love.
God, the Maker, SINGS over you!

Reflect for a moment:

Does this scripture change anything about your understanding of God’s delight in you?

What changes about the way we worship and lead worship when we remember that the Lord sings His song over us?

Do we consistently pause and listen for what the Lord is speaking and singing?

Take some time today to be still and listen. Ask the Lord boldly to let you in on what He’s exulting over you.

The Ministry of Private Worship by Spence Parkerson

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To follow up last week’s resource post, Spence Parkerson (worship pastor at CrossPointe church in Valdosta, GA) gives a wonderful reflection on the power and importance of private worship. Check out this killer quote from the article:

“There is nothing on this earth so sweet, so fulfilling, so satisfying than His presence in the private because that is where our intentions are the most pure. We must seek after this place with everything that is within us. We must fight for this place as we continue to pour out. We must never forsake this place of private worship and intimate fellowship. This is place where our identity is clear and our motives are pure. This is the place where we are filled and ministered to. This is the place where He sings over us and tells us who He is and how much He loves us (Zeph. 3:17). So, if you are spending more time showing Him your shiny gifts and riches than you are worshiping and adoring His worth here are a couple of things that will hopefully lead you back to that place of private worship.”

Please take time before the end of this week to read the full post here. Thank you guys for all you do in our church family. Fight for the time in God’s presence. Make it a priority. We are only as effective in our public, congregational worship as we are diving deep in the arms of Christ.