Receptivity

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In last week’s devotion, we started reflecting on the voice of the Lord. We believe in and serve a God that speaks to his people, and this is extremely significant to the way in which we live our lives. Put simply: if our King is speaking, we should listen. So let’s continue meditating on the importance of asking God to tune our ears, eyes, and hearts to his will.

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:7-8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears.
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭34:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Receptivity is not a single thing; rather, it is a compound, a blending of several elements within the soul. It is an affinity for, a bent toward, a sympathetic response to, a desire to have. From this it may be gathered that it can be present in degrees, that we may have little or more or less, depending upon the individual. It may be increased by exercise or destroyed by neglect. It is not a sovereign and irresistible force which comes upon us as a seizure from above. It is a gift of God, indeed, but one which must be recognized and cultivated as any other gift if it is to realize the purpose for which it was given.”
– A W Tozer

REFLECT:

What do these passages of scripture and quote from Tozer teach us about training our receptivity to and through the Spirit? What does it look like to “increase by exercise or destroy by neglect” our sensitivity to the Lord’s voice?

Why is persistence so crucial in our asking and our listening in prayer? What does consistency do for our receptivity to the Lord?

PRAY:

Father, you spoke and creation was. You speak and we are.

Jesus, you call us by name. You are the Word that saves.

Holy Spirit, will you teach us to hear what you hear, to speak what you’re speaking.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

A Friendly Voice

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“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“An intelligent plain man, untaught in the truths of Christianity, coming upon this text, would likely conclude that John meant to teach that it is the nature of God to speak, to communicate His thoughts to others. And he would be right. A word is a medium by which thoughts are expressed, and the application of the term to the eternal Son leads us to believe that self-expression is inherent in the Godhead, that God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation. The whole Bible supports the idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is by His nature continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking voice… The voice of God is a friendly voice. No one need fear to listen to it unless he has already made up his mind to resist it.”
A. W. Tozer

REFLECT:

If the Lord of the universe, our best friend, is speaking, how should that shape our attentions? In work and relationship? In leading worship?

Do you ever struggle with believing that God is speaking? Do you confidently believe that the Spirit communicates to people, but doubt that you’re one of those people?

Do you have confidence that the Father wants to speak to you, but resist listening because of what He might say or ask of you?

What if, even with our doubts, we committed to listening patiently and consistently for his voice? Would each day look different if we took the Word at his word?

PRAY:

Father, you spoke and creation was. You speak and we are.

Jesus, you call us by name. You are the Word that saves.

Holy Spirit, will you teach us to hear what you hear, to speak what you’re speaking.

Amen. Amen. Amen.

Keep on…

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And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.  ‭‭Luke‬ ‭11:9-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

REFLECT:

What is Jesus teaching us in this passage about persistence? Why is this sometimes challenging for us? What changes in us as we consistently ask, seek, and knock?

What is different about the way our Heavenly Father hears us and gives us gifts than the way our earthly caretakers do?

Does this passage change the way that you view God’s desire to answer prayers? Does Jesus’ encouragement to “keep on” push you to ask for things more boldly?

PRAY:

Father, we believe that you are the giver of good gifts. Help us in our unbelief and doubt.
Jesus, you found us when we were still sinners, you have opened the door for us to enter the Kingdom.
Spirit, please grow our boldness and persistence. We want to ask more, seek more, and knock more.
Amen, Amen, 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.

“My Peace I Give You”

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today I want to invite you to join me in reflection on a wonderful blogpost from our friend Ray Hollenbach. In this short article, Ray (a talented writer, preacher, disciple, and member of the Campbellsville Vineyard family) gives some fantastic insight into the receiving and giving of Jesus’ peace.

Here’s one of my favorite quotes, reflecting on how Jesus ministered to the disciples before his crucifixion:

“He wanted to equip his friends. He offered peace: a peace capable of overcoming troubled hearts and abject fear. He offered the inbreaking of a kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace, and joy.”

Click here to read the meditation, then reflect on the following questions:

REFLECT:

In our world, full of fear, do we ask for the peace that Jesus offered his disciples (on the very night he was to be betrayed)?

Think about this quote from the meditation, “God’s peace is a gift. It is ours to receive and ours to give.”

What does it mean, as a worship leader, to give and share God’s peace with our church family, with the people around us all week?

What does this look like, in an intentional and practical sense?

How do we actively serve in ways that allow peace to surround the anxious hearts the Spirit leads us toward?

PRAY:

Jesus, Spirit, Abba Father, we are so prone to anxiety and fear. You offer us peace that surpasses our understanding, and so often we do not accept it. So, Lord, we will repeat these words you spoke to your disciples and we ask you to burrow them deep within our worried hearts:

*repeat this verse aloud as many times as you need to

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

“Take courage, I am here!”

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“Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here! ” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭14:24-29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I wonder how many times Peter laid his eyes on the ocean, or how many times he stepped into a boat to carry him across the water. Peter was a fisherman before he dropped everything and started following Jesus. The sea was not foreign to Peter, he probably knew more about those waters than most. But then the disciple found himself in a storm. Simon Peter looked out across the water, the same sea he had looked at hundreds of times, and he saw something scary, confusing, and different.

Like Peter, we try to navigate through the world’s storms and brokenness, “the already and the not yet”. But in the roar of the tempest, we hear our savior’s voice:

“Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here.”

We can imagine the mental and spiritual battle taking place when Jesus calls Peter onto the waves. Faith and the world’s flawed logic grind against each other. Sometimes, in the midst of chaos and confusion, we are asked to do bold and daring things that might not make sense to us. And yes, like Peter, we might be afraid and temporarily sink in the waves. But Jesus is near saying, “Take courage!”

The Lord is near and waiting for us to be brave enough to get out of the boat, even when it seems like madness. It is in such moments that we make a decision to believe in the kingdom’s logic. God is for us, God is with us, God is the master of the wind and the waves. So if the Savior says “come”, we walk upon the water.

REFLECT:

1. Are there storms that you’re sailing in right now?
2. Have you dismissed things that God has asked of you because they seemed impossible?
3. How might God be asking you to “step out of the boat” with kingdom expectation?
4. Where would you like the Lord to bring peace in your life?

PRAY:

Jesus, we know you, we know that you are all-powerful. We know that you are near, you will not leave us in the storm alone. We trust you. We ask that you would show us how to follow you today. Please make us brave enough to jump out of the boat with faith. Lord let us lean into what you are doing in our lives. You are near. Help us to trust you, when you take us to the craziest places. You live within us and strengthen us in our need and over our fear. We love you, Lord. Amen.

The Centurion’s Faith

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“After he had finished all his sayings in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. Now a centurion had a servant who was sick and at the point of death, who was highly valued by him. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent to him elders of the Jews, asking him to come and heal his servant. And when they came to Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, “He is worthy to have you do this for him, for he loves our nation, and he is the one who built us our synagogue.” And Jesus went with them. When he was not far from the house, the centurion sent friends, saying to him, “Lord, do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof. Therefore I did not presume to come to you. But say the word, and let my servant be healed. For I too am a man set under authority, with soldiers under me: and I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.” And when those who had been sent returned to the house, they found the servant well.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭7:1-10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

REFLECT:

What was so significant about the centurion’s faith? What can we learn from the way this man believed in certainty of Christ’s healing power?

To the centurion, it made perfect sense that a simple word from Jesus would be obeyed, even by deathly illness. Do we struggle to believe in God’s absolute authority over affliction? Do past failures and tragedies hurt our expectation that the Lord will move on our behalf?

What does this passage teach us about Jesus’ heart for people? What does the story tell us about God’s nature?

When we lead people in worship and prayer, how can we lift them up to the Lord with faith like the centurion’s?

PRAY:

Jesus, help us to be a people that call on your name with tremendous faith. Remind us that your glory and ability to heal our hurts is not limited by distance, time, or our own weakness. You are the conqueror and you have overcome the world. Let us intercede like the centurion did for his servant. Give us courage to bring the need’s of those we love to you, Jesus. Then, we ask, give us the faith to pray in the Spirit to see your healing and kingdom come. You’re so good to us, Father. We know you love to save your children. Grow our faith, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“I’ll give you what I have”

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“Peter and John went to the Temple one afternoon to take part in the three o’clock prayer service. As they approached the Temple, a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for some money. Peter and John looked at him intently, and Peter said, “Look at us!” The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!” Then Peter took the lame man by the right hand and helped him up. And as he did, the man’s feet and ankles were instantly healed and strengthened. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk! Then, walking, leaping, and praising God, he went into the Temple with them. All the people saw him walking and heard him praising God. When they realized he was the lame beggar they had seen so often at the Beautiful Gate, they were absolutely astounded!”
‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭3:1-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I think my favorite thing about this testimony, which takes place right after the Spirit’s outpouring on Pentecost, is the ridiculously normal way that Peter does God’s work. The thought of talking to a total stranger, a beggar, let alone praying for his physical healing, totally paralyzes some of us with fear. And yet here we see one of Jesus’ disciples calmly, confidently step into a broken situation with the expectation that God would move. Now we know that the disciples weren’t against good, God-given ministries of charity and caring for the monetary, clothing, and food needs of the less fortunate (read the last verses of the previous chapter, Acts 2). But I think Peter, in this moment, saw that the Lord wanted to give this man a gift that was even kinder and more life-changing: the manifestation of God’s love and power. And I don’t think the disciple experienced this miracle because he was ultra-spiritual or smarter than us “average folk”. I believe that Peter simply ACTED upon the same truths that we say we believe about our Father. Peter knew that God’s heart was full of compassion for those who hurt. Peter knew that God’s Spirit lived in him as Jesus had promised. So Peter simply and boldly shared what he had been given with the crippled man, and look at the results! In one moment, a shattered existence is replaced by healing and praise that filled the temple with wonder… the glory of our loving God.

REFLECT:

Do we believe that we are in the same position as Peter and John, and that we’re given the same opportunities for ministry?
Do we struggle to believe that we are filled with the same Spirit, in whom remains the same power to change lives?

What can we learn can we learn from the “naturally supernatural” way that Peter ministered to this man?
How does the miraculous work of the kingdom become as normal to us as sharing a bite of food, giving someone some extra change, or speaking a kind word?

PRAYER:

Father, I believe that you have called me into your ministry, adopted me as your child, and filled me with the power and life of your Spirit. Help me to be bold when I am afraid. Help me to trust in you more than I fear my insecurities. I believe you give me healing, courage, forgiveness, and compassion so that I may share those gifts freely with others. I know you have so much more planned for me than I can imagine, so strengthen my feet to follow you into the kingdom way of life. All I have is yours, make me more like you. In the name of Jesus, amen.

New Song: All Things Rise

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He is Risen!  It’s Easter week, everybody!  We hope your hearts are filled with joy and delight in the Living God’s presence today.

We’ve been singing an absolutely brilliant worship tune for the last few weeks called “All Things Rise.”  Written by Sam Yoder of the Campbellsville Vineyard church, this song is full-to-overflowing with hope.  The lyrics call us to remember what Christ has done in victory and speak to our dependance on Christ to bring restoration.  Read these words from the final chorus of the tune and pray them over our town, families, and church.

“All things once sown in weakness, You raise in promise. Your beauty arches above it all.”

As Easter approaches, praise the Lord for resurrection life, pray for renewal in the brokenness around us, and listen to this fantastic song from our neighbors.  He is Risen!

Chord chart available in Planning Center.

The Giver of Good Gifts

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So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

REFLECT:

Think for a moment: What are some “good gifts” that you would ask of the Father? In corporate worship? In private quiet time?

In this passage, Jesus reminds us that our Father, who is infinitely more loving than any human parent, delights in blessing his children. Is it hard for you to believe God WANTS to give you “good gifts?” Further still, do you believe God WANTS you to ask him for what he gives?

Why is it critical to remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above?” What do we risk, when we forget where our gifts, fruit, and successes come from?

What comfort can we draw from the reminder that our Father “does not change like shifting shadows?” Do we believe that the Lord is the same, great provider that he’s always been?

PRAY:

Our Father, you are so wonderful.  Thank you for your overflowing generosity.  Abba, give us the courage and trust to ask boldly for your perfect gifts.  Thank you for being more eager to give than we are to ask.  Let your children enjoy all that you are.  We long for your loving presence.  In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.