Going Deeper with the Message:
Because of Who He Is
by: Andrew Archer
When I think about worship, questions comes to mind: why do we worship? What drives our worship? Or better yet, what is our worship defined by? Oftentimes, our worship is defined by our situation. To help explain what I mean, think about it in regard to sports.
When your favorite sports team is doing well, the coach is making good decisions, players are executing, and they are winning; it’s effortless to sing their praise. Week in and week out, it’s natural to sing praises after wins. But as soon as things go astray—when the coach starts making decisions you don’t agree with, when the players aren’t playing well, as soon as the losses start—the praise stops.
Unfortunately, I think we do the same thing with God. When our situation is good—when we are happy with it and things are going well for us— it’s effortless to praise Him. However, when things become difficult—when we are in a valley and we feel like He is far away—we tend to stop singing. But the incredible thing about God is that, even when our situation changes, He never does. He stays the same no matter what.
Psalm 100 says this:
Let the whole earth shout triumphantly to the Lord!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that the Lord is God.
He made us, and we are his—
his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and bless his name.
For the Lord is good, and his faithful love endures forever;
his faithfulness, through all generations.
We should not let our worship be defined by our situation, whether good or bad. Our worship should be defined by who God is. He is good. His faithful love endures forever. He never changes. He is faithful to all generations. He is the same God in the valley that He was on the mountaintop.
I know that some of us are doing really well and that’s awesome. Praise God for that! However, some of us are not, and I’m sorry that things are difficult for you right now. But my encouragement to you, no matter your situation, is this: stop. Let’s stop defining our worship by our circumstances, our surroundings, our situation and let’s begin defining our worship by who our God is.
When we sing, let’s sing joyfully for who He is. Because He is good. He is faithful. His love endures forever. He is the Creator. He is the Lord of Lords. He is the King of Kings. He is the One who gave it all by sending His son to bring us from death into new and abundant life. He is worthy of our praise whether we are on the mountaintop or in the valley.
Living out the Message:
By Michelle Lemley, Nursery Coordinator
While driving around the parking lot at Target, my six year old son asked about the parking spaces up front. He asked, “Mommy, why are those blue pictures on the ground?” He was referring to the handicapped-accessible spots, which began a discussion about saving those spaces for people with special needs. We talked about taking care of those who need help, and how God wants us to always be looking for ways to help others.
Our bedtime devotional that evening was from 2 Samuel, and featured David and Mephibosheth. (By the way, if you ever need a laugh, ask a kid to try to pronounce “Meh-fib-o-sheth” really fast.) In this passage, David was thinking about his friend Jonathan, wishing that he could do something for his friend’s family. David found Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was “lame in both feet” (2 Samuel 9:3). David made sure that Mephibosheth received his inheritance from his grandfather King Saul, and told him, “I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan.” (2 Samuel 9:7)
Isn’t it beautiful the way God works to bring these experiences together to remind us of His expectations for us? David helped Mephibosheth because of his relationship with Jonathan, much as God has blessed us because of His covenant with His Son, Jesus. It is through a relationship with Jesus that we are able to receive our royal inheritance in Heaven. And so it follows that we are called to care for those in need because of our relationship with Jesus. As we see in Jeremiah 22:16:
“He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well. Is not this to know me? declares the Lord.”
To know Him, to truly seek to emulate the time of Jesus on Earth, is to care for others. I would like to think that I am always seeking opportunities to serve others, but in truth I often avoid situations that might be difficult or uncomfortable in favor of something more convenient. And when I do something to help, am I doing it to honor God, or in deference to all that He has done for me? Not always. Many times I find myself looking for “atta-boys” from those around me, watching to see who will acknowledge my good works.
This week, join me in seeking to be more like David, to serve others and especially those in need. And not because of Earthly rewards, or even for the opportunity to receive Heavenly rewards, but because we have a relationship with Jesus and love Him, and want to pass that love on to those whom He has called His brothers (Matthew 25:40).
Follow along with YouVersion notes
Going Deeper with the Message:
Love on Display
by: Andrew Archer
Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through Him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another. –1 John 4:7-11
When it comes to love, God wants us to have a clear understanding as to just how great His love is. He wants us to know that His love for us is unconditional—it knows no bounds. We have done nothing to earn or deserve it. God doesn’t love us because we first loved Him; He first loved us and He put His love on display for us in His Son Jesus.
As Tim shared Sunday, Jesus loved unconditionally. He loved people regardless of who they were. Regardless of their gender, race, social status, wealth, and more. He loved people regardless of how they treated Him. Even as he was being crucified, He cried out “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” And most importantly, He loved people regardless of the cost. Jesus told His best friends that “No one has greater love than this: to lay his life down for his friends.” Then Jesus put His money where His mouth was and took upon the wrath of God not only on behalf of His friends, but His enemies as well. That is true unconditional love.
If we are ones who know this unconditional love of God, then we ought to love one another. John makes it plain that because God is love, if we aren’t showing love to others, then we don’t know God. The crazy thing is, God still loves us even when we don’t love others. That’s what His love is—love without conditions.
So this week let’s focus on two things:
• Spend time with the God who knows you fully and yet loves you unconditionally
• Spend time loving others with the same love that God has for you
Getting this right is more important than any other Relationship Goal we have talked about in this series. As Peter says in 1 Peter 4:18:
“Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins.”
Living out the Message:
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?
By Barb Barnhart, Preschool Coordinator
“When challenged, the committed heart will search for a solution. The undecided heart searches for an escape.” –Andy Andrews, The Young Traveler’s Gift
I have often thought that I love unconditionally. The people I touch base with throughout the day can see the smile on my face of acceptance and caring. Yet, I realize that most of these people are not ones with whom I have developed a deep relationship. The deep relationships in our lives cause our unconditional love to waver. We can have conflict within our family circle or with coworkers. Living out this unconditional love with those closest to us takes commitment and make no mistake—this is hard work!
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Prepare yourselves. Unconditional love can bring about a broken heart.
What becomes of the broken hearted? Daily, each person has a decision to make on how to love. Will I love even though it may bring me pain or heartache? God has given us the solution. David wrote in Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.”
As those who have a relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, we have an advocate. Jesus understands our broken heart. His heart was broken for us as He took on our sins at the cross. He is near as we love others, loving through us. Likewise, as our love is shunned or spurned, Jesus is saving our crushed spirit, encouraging us to continue on.
Love unconditionally! You are not loving on your own. You are being obedient to the One who is love.
“We love because He first loved us.” –1 John 4:19
Prayer Plan //
We desire to regularly come together and lift up specific requests to God.
- Volunteer needs to be met in our ministries
- School Staff as they finish their year
- For those who hunger to have their needs met
- For more families to foster children in need
- Medical Professionals as they have served through the pandemic
- Unity among all people in our nation
- Peaceful resolutions to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine
Many believers have found the A.C.T.S. method for prayer helpful. This acronym is based on Jesus’ prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and contains 4 pieces that are essential to prayer: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
Praise God for who He is & what He has done.
Be honest before God about the sin in your life. Acknowledge the ways that you have sinned against God and others with your thoughts, words, and actions.
Thank God for what He has done in your life and in the lives of others.
Ask God for specific requests and trust that He will answer your requests according to His will, not our own.
Schedule time to pray each day—it’s easier to follow through if you have intentionally set aside time to spend with God.
- Reframing Foster Care: Filtering Your Foster Parenting Journey Through the Lens of the Gospel by Jason Johnson
- Everyone Can Do Something: A Field Guide for Strategically Rallying Your Church Around the Orphaned and Vulnerable by Jason Johnson
- The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home by John DeGarmo
- Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families by Jayne Schooler, Betsy Keefer Smalley and Timothy Callahan
- James 1:27
- Psalm 68:5-6a
- Psalm 82:3
- Proverbs 31:8-9
- Isaiah 1:17
- Matthew 18:4-5
Local Resources WV Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR)
Mission West Virginia, Inc.
WV Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Network
The WV Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Network is an organization based out of Charleston, WV that supports the building of a statewide network of foster, adoptive, and kinship families from all agencies for advocacy and support.
Award Winning Videos — ReMoved
ReMoved follows the emotional journey of a nine-year old girl who is taken from her abusive birth home and placed in the tumultuous foster care system. These short films will help you understand the experiences of many children coming from homes of neglect and abuse, and the accompanying children’s emotions. All from a child’s point of view.