Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

Thanks for stopping by!

Filtering by Tag: devotional

{Five Minute Friday | Accept}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {ACCEPT}.

Ready? Go.

This word stirs up all kinds of things in my mind. Perhaps, that's indicative of this season of life. There are lots of things swirling in my heart and mind. So many things. Today, I'm landing in a place where acceptance is part of loss. You suffer loss. You grieve. You accept it. 

During my life, I have known the weight of a grieving heart many times. I have grieved the loss of friends and community. I have mourned the loss of a marriage.  I have lamented the loss of two children. Grief is exhausting and cumbersome. When you are walking under the weightiness of it, it threatens to squeeze the life right out of you. I'm grieving a few things during this season, you know. And, I'm heartbroken. But, if I've learned anything at all, it's that grief doesn't have the final word. 

It can't. Because of Jesus. He is Hope and Truth. Jesus changes everything. 

I suppose to survive you accept what is in front of you. You adjust. You redefine. You find a new "normal. You realize nothing will ever be the same, not really. But, oh, sweet friends. Can I tell you something? Lean in a bit because this is important. HE remains. His perfect faithfulness and steadfast love on full display. Look for Him. Grab hold of Him. After all, in Him, all things hold together. Nothing -- not one tear, not one prayer, not one desperate cry for help -- escapes His attention. 

Be encouraged today. Accept that He loves you so, even on the worst of days. Grab hold of the truth of Scripture and let that truth be what informs every other thing in your life -- the good, the bad, and all the in-between. 

Because, Jesus. 

Stop. 

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{Five Minute Friday | Refine}

It's Five Minute Friday. That means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

This week the prompt is {REFINE}.

Ready? GO.

I sat down more than once today to write this post. The words wouldn't come. But a song came. Sometimes songs do that for us, put words to the things we can't articulate, and we find it precisely embodies what we want to say. In this season, these words give voice to something that's stirring in the depths of my soul.  

My delight is in You, Lord. On Your Word, I set my heart. You are peace. You are calm for my restless soul. You light my way through the dark. I want to know You even more. Holiness is my desire. Purify, burn in me, come and make me clean. You refine me in Your fire.

Here I am, open arms. Draw me close to Your heart. You're my life. You're my refuge. My delight, Lord, my delight is in You.

Refiner's fire. My heart's one desire is to be holy, set apart for You, Lord.
I choose to be holy, set apart for You, my Master. Ready to do your will.

Here I am, open arms. Draw me close to Your heart. You're my life. You're my refuge. My delight, Lord, my delight is in You.

Yes. And amen.

STOP.


 

 

*My Delight Is In You // © 2013 worshiptogether.com Songs Worship Together Music sixsteps Music Sixsteps Songs Sweater Weather Music A Thousand Generations Publishing (Admin EMI CMG). CCLI Song No. 6517953 . // Words and Music: Christy Nockels, Jessee Reeves, Chris Tomlin

 

 

{Five Minute Friday | Middle}

Well, hello there, friends. It's been a little while since I've written. That was by design - just taking a little rest. What better way to say hello after a break than with Five Minute Friday.

Five Minute Friday means unplanned, unedited, straight-from-the-heart-to-the-paper writing. Yep, you just write whatever comes out based on a word you're given. If you have five minutes, you should give it a try!  Find out how here.

The prompt is {MIDDLE}.

Ready? Go.

I'm not the kind of gal who wants to be somewhere in the middle. When I'm in, I'm all in. Otherwise, why bother? I suppose there are good things and not-so-good things about being an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Sometimes, it keeps me from starting. Sometimes, it means I have super-high (and super-unrealistic) expectations of myself. That's no fun, but hey, I'm working on it! It's just that I don't want to spend my days in a rut, you know, going through the motions in a kind of mindless, aimless way. That's kind of what it feels like in the middle to me. Do I begrudge the ordinary stuff? Absolutely not. Sometimes, the common, everyday tasks are where being all in matters most. Yeah, for sure. Here's the thing: Jesus gives meaning to whatever I'm doing. Scripture says to work with all our heart at whatever we find to do.  It says to do it as if you were doing it for Him. Whatever. We. Do. You know what that means? We don't have to compartmentalize our lives into "Jesus-stuff" and "everyday stuff." That changes things, doesn't it? That load of laundry? Do it for Him being thankful that you have running water, a washing machine, and clothes to wear. Gratitude and joy push you out of the middle into a place where you live intentionally and with purpose. In every moment. Yeah, what if we do that.

Stop.

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{Cut | Day 30 of 31}

Ready? Go.

Confession: I don't come close to having it all together. I struggle to get all my chores done. Sometimes, I fuss at the kids way too much. My faith is too often flimsy. Every single day I mess up in one way or another. Were it not for God's life-giving grace! It fills in the gaps between my feeble attempts at righteous living and God's standard for righteousness.
But I do try. I do work at it. There is too much noise. Too many voices. All I want is His voice. All that matters is His truth. All I want is to love Him with all that I am. I can't do that without asking for His help. That's it.

In Old Testament scripture, circumcision was a sign of God's covenant with Abraham. Scripture also speaks of a circumcision of the heart in Deuteronomy 30:6. Here's what it says: The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.  So, my prayer lately has been simple.

God, cut away everything in my heart that is not of You.

There's something wildly beautiful about placing your heart in the hands of the Almighty and asking Him to do whatever He needs to do so that you can love Him with all your heart and soul. It implies trust. It means being vulnerable. It requires saying, I never will get it right without His help.

Stop.

 

{Neighbor | Day 18 of 31}

Ready? Go.

Seems like there’s a lot of disunity across evangelical circles these days. We live in a culture that feels entitled to have an opinion and hold that opinion up and affirm it above all others. Out loud. Often times on a social media platform. Sometimes at the expense of another by making derogatory comments and accusations. (Anyone else not enjoying this election year?)  It makes me sad. In Scripture, James talks about the fights and quarrels among us. He says they come from our desires at war within ourselves. (Interesting tidbit: the Greek word in the text for “desires” is hedone. Our modern word hedonism finds its root in that word. That says something, doesn’t it.) He also warns us against slanderous speech against a brother and sitting in judgment of him. He writes, “But you—who are you to judge your neighbor?”

Jesus had something to say about being a good neighbor. Take a look at this passage from the gospel of Mark. 

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these." Mark 12: 28-31

This is a big deal. Jesus’s explanation tells us that the law can be summed up in these two commands (Matthew 22:40). James calls this the “royal law” and says we’re doing well if we get it right. I agree. Wholeheartedly. Here’s the thing: if you are loving God the way Jesus tells us to love Him, loving your neighbor as yourself will be a natural progression of that love. I’m not here to say that if we all just love each other all the other issues will go away. We’re human. I get it. But, I am saying that Scripture tells us that He’s given us everything we need to do what He’s asking us to do. We also have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit that will go to work changing us so we can be Christians who represent and reflect God’s love well. 

I fear we love ourselves and our opinions more than anything else at times. I wonder sometimes if we don’t have too much of a “I’m just looking out for myself” mentality. Do we live in a space that says our thoughts and feelings are most important? Do we believe our security and stability is meant to be our first priority? This must be why James reminds us that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble, and that if we will draw near to Him, He draws near to us. Those are two things I cannot imagine living without: God’s nearness and grace. James also gives us another bit of wisdom. He says to “humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you,” and “do not merely listen to the word . . . do what it says.” 

May I encourage you to join me in praying that God will help us, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be doers of the word, to love Him with all that we are, and to be a good neighbor by loving others well? Can we ask Him daily to guard our hearts from selfish pride, to help us recognize it in ourselves and repent? Ask Him to help us live the truth we say we believe. Can you imagine what might happen if as the collective body of Christ we focused all our energy on these things? I think it would blow our minds. 

STOP.