Thriving, Not Just Surviving

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In this message, our Denton, Flower Mound, and Lewisville campus Pastors share the revelation they’ve received in this season.

So come on, in Jesus’ name, we submit and surrender every area of our lives to him. You see, one of my favorite things that we’ve been doing in these online services is taking a moment to have a prayer point or an encounter with God. And every week, we pray about what does God want to do as we invite Him into our lives and into our homes. And this week, I feel like God wants to restore some joy in our lives. You see, I don’t know about you, but maybe like me, maybe you’ve lost your joy this week. Maybe as this thing has gone on longer than we’ve wanted it to, and there’s been disappointments and discouragement and despair, maybe you’ve lost some of your joy.

And the reason that matters is because the joy of the Lord is our strength. And when we lose our joy, we lose our strength and we become weak, and we start living a defeated life. But God wants to restore our joy today in Jesus’ name. You see is not an emotion or a feeling. Joy comes from the presence of God. The Bible tells us that in His presence is the fullness of joy.

So it’s God’s presence in our lives that brings us joy. The Bible tells us that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, when we submit and surrender to His presence in our lives, joy is the natural result. So will you do this with me? Will you close your eyes and maybe open up your hands? And can we just take a moment to become aware of the presence of God in our lives?

Can you become aware that right now, wherever you are, God is with you. And in His presence is joy, that the Holy Spirit is in you and with you and upon you. And He’s producing the fruit of joy in your life right now in this moment. In fact, maybe wherever you are, as silly as this may sound, can you just smile right now? Like a big, old cheesy grin, come on, everybody’s eyes are closed, nobody’s looking at you. Can you just put a big, old cheesy grin upon your face? It’s literally a sign of faith, that maybe you’re saying, I don’t feel it, I don’t believe it, my life doesn’t look like it. But right now, I’m choosing to be aware of God’s presence in my life, and He is bringing joy into my world.

He’s brought salvation, He’s brought forgiveness, He’s brought freedom and redemption and healing, and wholeness. And if joy is found in the presence of God and Jesus promises he will never leave me nor forsake me, then joy will never leave me nor forsake me. Come on, smile that big, old cheesy grin. And by faith, receive His joy. And know that as you smile, the Father is smiling upon you. That as He looks upon you, He is so full of delight and so full of joy, He’s rejoicing over you with singing with a big, old cheesy grin upon His face because of His love for you. And as you start to realize He delights in you, you’ll start to delight in Him.

Restore to us, Lord, the joy of our salvation. In Jesus’ name, right now, I declare joy over your family, over your life, over your home, over your world, in Jesus’ name, may the joy of the Lord be your strength. Jesus, we love you and we receive your joy today. In your name, we pray. Amen.

Well, hey, everybody, let me welcome you once again to our online service here at Valley Creek. I am so glad you are here with us today wherever you are in the world. And whether this is your first time here, maybe your second time back after Easter or maybe you’re here with us all the time, it really doesn’t matter, I am so glad you’re here with us today. And what an amazing Easter celebration we had last weekend. Like Easter online, who would have ever thought, and yet I’m incredibly grateful for our amazing teams that put together a service to bring the hope of Jesus into our homes.

And I’m incredibly grateful for you, for the way you invited people all over the world to tune in, so they could have the hope of Jesus in their homes and experience the resurrection for themselves. You see, just because we can’t gather together in our physical campuses right now, it doesn’t mean we can’t be missional.

In fact, in this season, there are so many great opportunities to reach people we would never have been able to reach outside of technology. We are a movement of hope for the city and beyond. And I know this hasn’t been the easiest season for all of us. A lot of us, we’ve kind of got to the end of ourselves. We’re done with this season, we’ve had enough. We’re ready for it to be over.

We’re trying to figure out how to do home school and work from home, and get groceries and toilet paper and all of that stuff. And everywhere you look right now, you hear people talking about how to survive this season. You turn on the news, you go to Yahoo, you go to your social media feeds. Everybody is talking about how do you survive this corona season. And while that’s a great question and a fair question, as followers of Jesus, we should really be asking a better question.

You see, the question is not how do you survive this season. The real question is this, how do you thrive in the midst of it? Like if I ask you that question right now, how would you answer it? How do you thrive in the midst of this corona season? How would you answer that question? It’s actually a really simple answer. And the answer is simply, if you want to thrive, then stay connected to Jesus and his church.

Now, I know some of you, the moment I say that, you’re like, come on, man. That’s not what I’ve heard anywhere on Yahoo or on the news or on social media. And you’re a pastor. So of course, you’re going to go ahead and say that. But listen, I’m not the one who is saying that. God is the one who is saying that. Like check this out, I love this verse, Psalm 92, it says, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Ready? “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit. And in old age, they shall be fresh and flourishing.”

Come on, that’s a great verse, in Jesus’ name. This isn’t just a principle, it’s a promise. There is a promise that says that if we will stay planted, rooted, committed to Jesus and his church, the house of the Lord, we shall flourish regardless of what is happening in the world around us.

I mean check this out, it says, “You’ll flourish like a palm tree.” Think of palm trees. Those beautiful trees you see at the beach. They’re this majestic beauty and they kind of blow in the wind. But then every once in a while, a hurricane comes through and rips up everything else, and the only thing left standing are palm trees. Why? Because they have this amazing root system and they’re incredibly flexible. When the storm comes they bend and they blow, but they don’t break or get uprooted.

And what this is telling us is that if we will be committed and connected to Jesus and his church, we will be flexible and we will be able to withstand any storm the world throws against us. And then it says, “We’ll be like cedars in Lebanon.” Cedars in Lebanon were these big, beautiful, majestic trees, a hundred feet high, incredibly wide, and they were known as trees of purpose. Trees of nobility.

You see, kings would use their wood to build their palaces. And ship makers would use the wood to make ships because they were disease resistant and rot resistant. And so they were trees of purpose and trees of nobility. And this is reminding us that if we stay connected to Jesus and his church, we will be disease resistant and rot resistant. We will be noble and fulfill the purpose God has for us regardless of what’s happening. It promises that if we will stay planted, we will flourish, that we will still bear fruit, we will be fresh and flourishing in the midst of a world right now that is barren, stale, and let’s be honest, is falling apart.

This is an amazing verse that isn’t just a principle, it’s a promise in Jesus’ name. You see, what you have to remember is that Jesus tells us, he will build his church. What Jesus is building on this earth right now is his church.

And the church is not a building, and it’s not a service. It’s a people. It’s you and me and us united together, moving forward by the Spirit of God, a family on mission, on a journey together. And that’s what Jesus is building. And if that’s what he’s building, then if you want to thrive and flourish in life, you have to align yourself with what he is doing. You have to bring yourself into submission and to surrender to what he is doing. What he is doing right now is his church, his people.

There is a supernatural grace, and a favor, and a strength, and a security, and a calm, and a comfort when we just get rooted in Jesus and his church. See, the Bible tells us the three main analogies for his church are a body, a family, and a field. Come on, if you’re connected to the body of Christ, how can you not flourish in this life?

And if you are a part of the family of God and He is your good father, how can you not flourish in this life? And if you are planted in his field, then he is the gardener, how can you not flourish in the midst of this life? See, we don’t just have to survive this season, we can actually thrive, but we got to do it God’s way. And He tells us, those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish.

I mean just this past week at my house, I wanted to dig up these two landscaping trees in my house. We’re all looking for things to do and doing weird projects. I wanted to get rid of these two trees. So I went out and I dug all around it and did everything I could and trying to shimmy it and pry it, and all this stuff. I broke two shovels trying to get those out. I mean snapped the handles right in half. And as the second one broke, I just kind of had the sense from the Lord. And I felt like it was a prophetic picture for you and me.

I felt like He was saying, hey, this is who you are when you’re rooted in my church. That no one in this world can tear you up, uproot you, pull you out. You will be rooted and planted and flourish and thrive and be free in the midst of this season. You see, when you’re a part of a church, it’s not just this religious experience, it’s not just showing up to a service. It’s not a building. It’s a supernatural experience.

When you join on an online service like today, you’re not just pressing play and watching some content or checking out some technology. No, no. You’re supernaturally aligning yourself with what God is doing and supernaturally connecting to all of the rest of us. And there is a favor, and a grace, and an anointing, and a thriving, and a flourishing in the midst of that.

You see, when you are a part of Jesus’ church, there are people who serve you with no strings attached. There are people who love you with no strings attached. There are people who care for you and encourage you, and build you, and pray for you, and give to you, and do all kinds of things, people you have never met, people you don’t know, people who are literally laying down their lives so that you will thrive and flourish and have the grace of Jesus flow through them into your world.

And so in this season, when it’s easy to get isolated and disconnect and turn it off and say not today and maybe next week, this is the season more than ever to lean into Jesus and his church because it’s not just a principle it’s a promise. And if you’ll stay rooted, you will flourish in this life. And for some of you, you’re brand new to this whole thing, you’ve joined Valley Creek sometime in this whole online experience, today is a great day to say, okay, I’m in, this is my church. I’m getting rooted in Jesus’ name.

And some of you, you’ve been with us for years, and yet if you’re honest you’ve taken all this for granted. You’ve seen church as a building or a gathering, that’s optional. And when you have time and it’s convenient, you’ll come. This is the season that I pray for all of us, including myself, to have a deep repentance, a changing of our mind about what the church is and that we realize it’s actually a gift from God to help us flourish and thrive, no matter what is happening in the world around us.

You see, one of the best things about being a part of a church means you have spiritual leaders who care for you. You have spiritual leaders who every day wake up and think about your soul, and your spirit, and your family, and your life. And they pray for you and they care for you. And they love you. And they lay down their lives for you.

And they are trying to shepherd you and your family into green pastures. And so over these past few weeks, you’ve been hearing a lot from me about a lot of different stuff. And what I want to do today is I just want to take a few minutes to have three of our campus pastors share from three different campuses, just a few minutes a piece, on what their discovering about Jesus in this season. I want you to see their face. I want you to hear their words. And I want you to be encouraged that you are a part of a church that has leaders who are seeking after Jesus with everything they have, discovering new things about him for themselves and that they love you, and are carrying you even when you feel like you can’t carry yourself.

So let me throw it over to our Denton campus with our Denton campus pastor. Come on, Justin, take it away.

Well, hey Valley Creek family. I’m here at our Denton campus, in our worship center. And I am so excited that I get to share with you what I have been discovering about Jesus in this season.

Let me just start with this. I’m so glad that I could say Valley Creek family because it reinforces the truth about what Jesus’ church is. That it’s not a location, it’s not a building, it’s not a religion, it’s a people. It’s everybody that’s part of the family of God through Jesus. And if you’ve been part of Valley Creek for a while, you’ve working a working definition that we use that says the church is the people of God united by the Spirit of God under the lordship of Jesus, sent to bring hope to the world.

And I don’t know that there’s ever been a time and a season where that has been more front and center that the church isn’t a place, it is a people. We’re not united by where we are, we’re united by who we are. That we are the carriers of the Spirit of God, one spirit that unites all of us. And as we follow Jesus, we carry hope to the world around us. And you know what, I thought that I would believe that truth about as deep as you possibly could.

But over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that I’ve realized that I’ve limited Jesus to a lot more places than I thought I did. And so what I have really discovered about Jesus in this season is that Jesus is in the space between. Now, let me tell you what I mean by that. You see, the normal rhythms of my life is a lot of things, a lot of places and activities and opportunities to encounter Jesus, you know, whether it’s services or gathering or it’s classes or it’s groups, or I’m teaching something and preparing for something. There’s a lot of things that are centered around Jesus and they’re built for encountering Jesus.

But in this season where some of that has been pulled away and some of that has been limited, there’s now some space, and there’s some space in between my encounters with Jesus. And so how about you? Are you maybe feeling that way right now? Have you experienced that, that for you Jesus has been limited to more of a gathering or a service? And there’s a lot more space in between your encounters with Jesus. And now, for me I don’t handle space very well.

I mean I get bored almost immediately. I mean I get bored sleeping, so I don’t even sleep very long. And so I feel space really quickly. And so there’s been this space, I mean I’ve been filling it with thinking, you know, I need to read this and learn and study, or I need to work on this home project or watch this TV show or this movie. And I’ve been filling that space with other things. And so my encounters with Jesus have been far apart

But over these last couple of weeks, there’s a scripture that the Holy Spirit has been bringing up, over and over and over. Psalm 46:10 that says, “Be still and know that I am God.” And it just kept coming up and kept coming up, and so I finally decided, you know, I need to respond to the Holy Spirit. And so finally one day, I stopped doing and I said, I’m just going to be. I’m just going to be still. And so in that moment, I just went ahead and I was still and I encountered Jesus, just opened up my heart, just to share with Jesus, allow Jesus to share back with me. Read Scripture not to prepare for something or teach something, just to take it in. And I just started doing that over the next several days.

And one day, I even — I even laid still for 20 minutes and listened to worship music. I didn’t even move. I’ve never laid still that long in my life. And just began having this incredible encounters with Jesus in the space between. And it reminded me of this family road trip that we took last year. We went up to West Coast as a family, and we had all this great destinations along the way that we hit. We had these great times and experiences and memories, but I realized it was actually in the space between where we found intimacy as a family, where we really built relationship. It was in between on the walks, and the talks, and the driving, and the sharing where the relationships grew.

And I realized, you know what, that’s the same with Jesus. We have these great opportunities in the environments and gathering for these encounters with Jesus. But really, it’s in the space between, it’s in the walk, it’s in the talks, it’s in the sharing that you really experience the intimacy with Jesus and the relationship with Jesus. And so Valley Creek, my encouragement to you is we believe there is always more.

And so no matter where you’re at on your journey with Jesus, I hope and pray that you discover more about Jesus in the space between.

Now, speaking of more, I know Pastor Jason has got something great to share with us. So let’s jump on over to Flower Mound Campus and hear from him.

Hey, thanks so much, Pastor Justin. Hey, everybody, this is Jason coming at you from the Flower Mound Worship Center. Today, I’m representing the Flower Mound and The Venue campuses. And let me just start by saying, I miss you guys. I miss seeing your faces, I miss our time together on the weekends. I really miss worshipping altogether in one place.

And although we may be physically apart from each other, I’m believing that the Lord is binding our hearts together in unity in this season. Even as we meet together online in different worship services, we are truly one church and we are bringing the hope to thousands of locations. And those places are our homes and the places where we meet.

So I hope you guys are doing great today. I’m excited to talk to you about what I’m discovering from Jesus in this season. And really simply put, in this season I’m discovering that Jesus can change any and every atmosphere, starting with my heart and my home. I don’t know about you, but there’s been some days where we’ve needed a serious atmosphere change in our home. We had one day recently, and I can’t even remember when it was because like all the days are blended together at this point, that we just woke up with a bad case of the grumpies. Like I’m talking there’s four of us in the house, we had a prickly parrot, we had a porcupine, we had a grumpolumpagus, and the leader of the Grinch of that family.

And so we all woke up with a bad case of the grumpies that day. It was just tough. It was tough to get going. It was tough to just speak kind words to each other. But we made a decision that we were going to watch the online service together. And it was the wildest thing. As we began to watch the service, and more specifically, as we began to lift up the name of Jesus, the atmosphere began to shift.

You see, we were singing and the song said, Jesus, Jesus, you make the darkness tremble. Jesus, Jesus, you silence fear. And as we lifted up the name of Jesus, our atmosphere began to change, starting with our own hearts and into our home, into the room that we were in. And that was amazing. That change lifted us, it lifted our hearts. It lifted — it literally raised our heads from looking down and feeling down in this season. And so I believe that the name of Jesus is powerful, that it can change any and every atmosphere, starting with your heart and with your home.

There’s an amazing verse in Acts 4:12. It says that, “Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind why which we must be saved.” The name of Jesus brings salvation, saving. Saving, healed, made whole and delivered. There’s so many ways that the name of Jesus can save us, can make us feel whole, can heal us, and can deliver us from anything and everything that feels like it’s oppressing us in this season.

What’s really cool about that verse is it says, given to mankind. I believe that the name of Jesus is a gift that’s given to us from the Father for a season just like this. When we begin to speak out the name of Jesus, something shifts in the atmosphere, something changes in our hearts. Something changes in the way we relate to one another. The name of Jesus is powerful and it is a gift.

Here’s my question for you. Are you utilizing that gift? Are you raising up the name of Jesus in your home and throughout your day? I would encourage you, even when you pray, pray things — pray prayers starting with the name of Jesus. Jesus, I need you. Jesus, be with us. Jesus, give us wisdom. Jesus, help us love one another. Jesus, be with us all of today. And give us your joy, and your peace, and your love. Jesus, Jesus.

Begin to raise up his name. Watch the darkness tremble. Watch the fears silenced. Watch all of the bad things in your house have to be pushed away by the power of his name. That’s what I’m learning in full measure. And so I believe that the name of Jesus is a gift that the Father has given us for this season. Let’s continue to raise up the name of Jesus. That’s what I’m discovering in this season. The name of Jesus changes any and every atmosphere.

How about you? What are you learning in this season? You see, at Valley Creek, we believe there is always more. There is always more with Jesus. And so there’s always more that he has for you to discover and there is always more power that the name of Jesus wants to move into our life, wants to show us, wants to bring to each and one of our — each one of our families. I encourage you, lift up the name of Jesus. It can change the atmosphere of your heart and of your home.

All right, now, I’m going to kick it over to my good friend, Pastor Ben Moreno at the Lewisville Campus. All right, Pastor Ben, take it away.

Hey, thanks Pastor Jason. I’m here at the Lewisville Campus. And usually, we would be worshipping together. And I just want to tell you I miss you so much. I miss all of the Valley Creek family. I miss seeing your faces. I miss being with you. And one of the reasons why I miss you so much is because over the past 20 years, I’ve been on a platform here at Valley Creek doing something, serving in one way, shape or form every single weekend. And all of that has changed.

All of that is different now. My routines, my rhythms, my plans, how I prepare, what I do, it’s all different now. And I wonder if that’s the same for you where your rhythm has changes, your plans have changed, what you do has changed. And I just want to tell you, you’re not alone in this.

My discovery over these past couple of weeks, what I’m discovering about Jesus is that my identity is totally not wrapped up in what I do.

It’s wrapped up in who he says I am. It’s in Jesus. I’m a beloved son. I’m a beloved child of God. And I need to remember that. And I’ve been discovering that so much over the past few weeks. See, I have a daughter who does gymnastics. And five days a week, five hours a day, she’s out there killing it. She’s doing it. And the world would say, hey, this is who you are, you’re a gymnast, man, go for it, build your life around this.

And I remember year after year just telling her, hey, you are not a gymnast who loves God. You are a beloved child of God first and foremost who does gymnastics. That’s what you do. We’re not going to let the world define you because you do something a certain way or you’re gifted in a certain way. We’re going to let Jesus define you. And the funny thing is this, over these past few weeks, I’ve had to remind myself of that, that my identity is not in what I do.

It’s in who Jesus is. I’m not a pastor who just loves God. I am a beloved child who is called to do ministry, called to be a pastor, called to lead. Let me read you this in 1 Peter, it says, “We’re a chosen people, we’re a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own possession, meant to show forth God’s goodness to others because we’ve been pulled out of the darkness and placed into His wonderful light.” And it says this right afterwards, it says, “Once you had no identity as a people, and now you are God’s own possession.” God’s very own possession.

See, we are His. My identity is not in the world, it’s actually in Him. And the one who owns me is the one who gets to define me.

The one says, cause me out of darkness is the one who defines who I am. And so maybe your world has been turned upside down over these past few weeks. Maybe your worldly title has been stripped away, what you do, your weekly routines. Maybe your job has changed or maybe you’ve lost your job. Maybe you’ve all of a sudden become a home school parent. Oh my goodness, first grade math. I’m not called to teach first grade math, I know that for sure.

But maybe your world has been changed. Maybe your weekly routine of going to gymnastics or that sports team that you own, is just changed and it’s different. I do want to tell you this, you’re not alone in this journey. Let me encourage you, your identity is not wrapped up in what you do. It’s wrapped up in who God says you are. It’s wrapped up in Jesus.

And so I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you discover more and more of this truth for your life. And I’m grateful for you. And I miss you. There is always more to discover. So let’s keep leaning in and discovering who we are in Jesus. I love you church. I’m so grateful for you. I can’t wait to see you again and be back together. I’m going to go ahead and pitch it back to Pastor John.

Come on. I am so grateful to be a part of a church like this, with people who are constantly saying, I want to discover more of Jesus for me, people who are on the journey with me, people who are building my faith and encouraging me. There is a supernatural grace and favor when we do this together. And I loved hearing what those guys are discovering about Jesus in their own lives and seeing our different campuses. And the question I just want to ask you is, what are you discovering about Jesus?

Like in this season in your life, and the ups and the downs, and the goods and the bads, and the pain and the discouragement, were you discovering something fresh about Jesus? You see, Isaiah 55 tells us, “Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near.” Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call on Him while He is near.”

You see, in this season, maybe more than any other season we’ve ever walked through, the Lord is revealing himself to us in fresh ways, and He is near. He’s not somewhere way off in outer space. He’s come to you. And He wants to do a deep work inside of you and show you things about who you are, who He is, and what you are created to do. And so my question for you is, are you seeking after Him?

Are you calling on Him in this season to find and discover fresh grace and fresh truth for your life? You see, that’s what it’s like being part of a church. It’s a part of family that believes the best and hold you to your best, and says, come on, let’s be fresh. Let’s bear fruit. Let’s flourish in this life and discover new things about Jesus in this season, and let him do deep works inside of us.

So will you close your eyes with me? And let me just ask you the simple question today, like I love to ask you, just what do you feel like the Holy Spirit is saying to you? In this moment in your life, wherever you are, what’s God saying to you?

Maybe He is inspiring you and inviting you to really get planted and be a part of this church. Maybe He’s right now speaking to you from one of our campus pastors, said about something they’re discovering and you’re like, man, that’s a discovery for me. Or maybe you realize that in this season, you’ve been just trying to weather it or endure it, and God wants you to thrive in the midst of it. And so maybe He’s saying, come on, come seek me. Come find me in new ways.

So Jesus, right now we just thank you for your church. We thank you for your grace. We thank you for revelation and discovery that you are holding us together. We thank you for the joy of the Lord that is our strength, that’s been released into our homes and our lives and our atmospheres today. And we say, Lord, would you continue to help us seek you in new and fresh ways. And may we be planted in You and in Your church.

May we be more connected now together spiritually than we ever have before, that we may flourish in this life, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hey, I am so glad that you are with us today. A little bit of a different service for you to change it up. And if we can pray for you for anything, would you just go to our website. There’s a really simple thing to do, you just click on it. We would love to personally pray for you in this season. For those of you that want to give, you can give right here online. Giving is a part of response to the goodness and grace of God in our lives. It’s also part of saying, this is my church, this is my family, and I want to be a part of blessing the world and bringing hope into the world around me.

In a moment, there’s going to be some discussion questions that we’re going to put up on the screen for you. I would encourage you, just take some time. Have a conversation with your family or whoever you’re watching this with, and continue to just process this stuff in your heart.

And may you go this week remembering that God is good, Jesus has forgiven you, you are loved, and everything is possible in Jesus’ name. Let this be a week you take one simple next step to connect with the church that God has planted you in, so you will flourish in the midst of this storm. I love you. We’ll see you next week.

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