Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
“Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” (Psalm 100:3)
First, we need to fully recognize that the Lord is God. Everything we believe—His promises, His provision, His healing and so much more—is predicated on that singular principle.
That God made us while we were in our mother's womb is a cornerstone of our belief system. The LORD made us—and created us with loving care. Added to that is our rebirth through Jesus His Son. Through that rebirth we know He made us with a purpose for our lives and a promise to be with us every step of the way.
As His people—the sheep of His pasture—God cares and provides for us beyond that of the best of earthly shepherds. He cares for us, his sheep, in pastures designed specifically with us in mind. Not only with provision to fit our earthly needs, but provision stored up in Heaven that is beyond our wildest expectation—beyond anything we have ever seen—even beyond our ability to imagine.
So let's live as those who know our Provider, Creator, and King! Those who know His voice and obey it. Let's display His character, share His grace, extend His mercy, and offer His forgiveness. Let's show the world that we are His people!
Who Will Fight Your Battles?
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many warriors with you. If I let all of you fight the Midianites, the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength.” (Judges 7:2)
I am not a military strategy expert but I would assume that good military strategy involves ensuring that you have more soldiers and weaponry than your enemy—not less. But less is what God told Gideon to go to battle with. Much less. Through a series of tests God shaved Gideon’s army down from 32,000 to 300 men.
What I find remarkable is that Gideon trusted God to do that. This is the same Gideon that just a chapter earlier is hiding in a winepress saying, “Sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, ‘The Lord brought us up out of Egypt’? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.”(Judges 6:13) Gideon could have said no to God’s plan of shaving down his army. He could have attacked the Midianites with his full army. In the natural this plan didn’t make any sense. In the natural it looked like a suicide mission. But Gideon made the decision to trust God and God fought the battle for him.
We all face battles and opposition in our lives. In those moments we have to choose whether we are going to use our own wisdom and efforts to try to overcome or if we are going to trust God to fight our battles. Will you trust God to fight for you?
Warm Milk and a Tent Peg
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
“Please give me some water,” he said. “I’m thirsty.” So she gave him some milk from a leather bag and covered him again. (Judges 4:19)
One of my absolute favorite books of the Bible is Judges. The stories that it tells are so rich, with such great content: Epic battles, encounters with angels, strong men, wicked cities and so much more. Today’s verse teaches us a lesson from one of Israel’s enemy’s, Sisera .
Sisera’s army was being beaten by the warriors of Israel, led by Deborah and Barak. In fleeing for his life, he found what he thought was a safe place, the tent of Heber the Kenite. Heber’s wife, Jael was there and took him in and gave him a place to rest. When he asked for some water to refresh himself, she offered warm milk instead. The warm milk was so comforting and he was so tired. Soon he was asleep. Then Jael gave him a tent peg that gave Sisera a splitting headache.
Sisera thought the tent was a safe place. He mistook the hospitality of Jael as welcoming. He mistook the warm milk as being in a place of comfort and ease. He forgot about the army chasing him and got comfortable. One choice after another eventually lead to his death.
Do you find yourself in a place of comfort today? Are your resting the tent of your enemy thinking you are in a safe place?
Many times, as we are fighting with the enemy of our soul, we find ourselves advancing on his territory. We are seeing victory and answers to pray. However, as we grow tired, we begin to look for a safe place to take cover. The enemy will always provide a “safe place” where we can camp close to our sin. We don’t mean to stay long, but the enemy gives us warm milk and a place to rest. It is so comfortable. We tell ourselves that we can handle being this close to sin. We tell ourselves that we can handle this much compromise in our lives. However, the enemy is just lulling you to sleep, so that he can drive that final nail in your life that will cause you to die in your sin.
But there is hope. Jesus took nails in his hands and feet so that we would not have to take one in the head. Jesus was nailed to the cross so that we would not be nailed with our sin. When we find ourselves weakened by temptation and camping close to sin, we can run to the foot of the cross instead of the tent of comfort and compromise. The foot of the cross is never comfortable, but it is the safest place we can live.
Passion, Star Wars, And Passing It On
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the day:
“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 NLT)
Leave it to the Kids Pastor to talk about the importance of teaching kids. But please, for the next few paragraphs, bear with me. I’m a big fan of Star Wars, some even say I’m an uber fan. Two weeks ago there was a big Star Wars convention in Florida called Star Wars Celebration. At this convention, the 40th anniversary of the release of the original movie was celebrated as well as news about upcoming Star Wars media. Because I’m an uber nerd, I live streamed some of the panels and alongside all of the lightsabers and people dressed up in costumes, something incredible stood out to me - all of the kids with their parents.
I love Star Wars because my Dad loves, no, LOVES Star Wars. He saw the original movies in theaters and owns tons of original toys. When I was ready, he passed that passion down to me. Now here’s the point of all of this - those kids at the Star Wars convention and I were introduced and encouraged to engage in our Star Wars fandom because some else passed it down to us.
Anything that lasts the test of time does so because others have kept it going. The Israelites had allowed for an entire generation to grow up without acknowledging the Lord or remembering the mighty things he had done for their grandparents. I will not let that happen on my watch! God has done too many amazing things that the kids of today need to know about! Christians can’t live in a casual way - we don’t live in a casual world. Kids are dealing with bigger and bigger issues at younger and younger ages. How can you encourage the next generation to serve God and experience His power first hand? Volunteer, give, and share your story with the kids in your family, circle of influence, and at church. Let’s keep the Gospel going and not allow it to fade.
Jesus Watches What You Give
Pastor Jon Brooks
Verse of the day:
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.” (Luke 21:3-4 NLT)
For most, giving is a very private matter. Whether we give a lot, a little or nothing at all we like that information to be completely confidential. Can you imagine sitting in your row at church, filling out your offering envelope and someone decides to lean over so they can see exactly what you’re going to give? That would be quite awkward!
In this passage Jesus is teaching in the temple courts and he shamelessly positions himself near the treasury to see who gives what! He notices wealthy people bringing their gifts followed by a poor widow who puts in 2 small coins. The King James Version translates the word for “coins” as “mites,” a term derived from the French, miete, signifying a crumb or a tiny morsel. These coins represented the smallest and least valuable currency in Israel.
Jesus not only watched who gave what, but he does what he is uniquely qualified to do: he looks at the heart. Some gave much yet because of their abundance it was not a sacrifice. Their giving would not require any dependence upon God because of their surplus and their lifestyle would continue as normal. But the widow gave all she had. Only a heart that completely trusts God can give everything.
God watches what rich people give and God watches what poor people give. Everyone’s contribution is expected and appreciated when given from the heart. This goes against a growing belief in our culture today that says only the rich should contribute and the poor need not give anything towards essentials like healthcare and education. God’s kingdom doesn’t operate in this manner.
Our giving is very personal, but it’s not private. God watches what we give. The moral of the story is not to take a vow of poverty, but that we should be poor in spirit, humble, self-sacrificing, and totally dependent on God. God is after our hearts and how we give goes a long way in directing our hearts toward him.
A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes
Pastor Dan Wootton
Verse of the day:
“It is pleasant to see dreams come true, but fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.” (Proverbs 13:19 NLT)
This same phrase in the New American Standard Bible reads, “Desire realized is sweet to the soul.” The Message reads, “Souls who follow their hearts thrive.” Everyone loves attending a wedding, a graduation, or a retirement party. The feeling of accomplishment sets the tone of the day. The work is complete. The reward has come.
There’s a different tone when a C+ high school student declares they want to become a lawyer. Are they actually going to make it? We don’t bring gifts and eat cake; we taper our reaction. We wait and see. The reward is still so very far away. The journey has barely begun.
With earthly wisdom, we cannot predict who will achieve their dreams and who will not. Skin-deep assumptions can be misleading, but God sees the heart. He doesn’t evaluate potential on social advantage, status, or upbringing. God sees the heart, and He recognizes one determining factor between those who achieve Christ-centered dreams and those who do not. What keeps you from your goals? “Fools refuse to turn from evil to attain them.”
So ask yourself . . . have you turned from evil? Is selfishness, greed, immorality, laziness, or anger keeping you from God’s perfect plan? Turn away from the temporary trappings of today. Take a deep breath and dream a God-sized dream. “Souls who follow their hearts thrive.”
By Whose Authority Do We Live
Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. 2 They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?” (Luke 20: 1)
The Chief Priests were on their home turf at the temple in Jerusalem, and Jesus, knowing that he had the authority, just walk right in and started teaching. Standing before them was a man who exercised authority over demonic powers, exercised authority over diseases and who had even exercised authority over death itself. Coupled with His radical and dramatic teaching style, this man Jesus was exercising an authority that was both baffling and frightening to the religious leaders. Jesus had come into their world, into their realm of life, and they felt they had to confront him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?” Jesus did not give them a straight answer. He left it for them to figure out on their own. Here is how He responded:
3 “Let me ask you a question first,” he replied. 4 “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
5 They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. 6 But if we say it was merely human, the people will stone us because they are convinced John was a prophet.” 7 So they finally replied that they didn’t know.
8 And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Jesus always met their hypocrisy head on. He didn’t answer to them—He answered to His Father in Heaven.
Today, this dramatic and revolutionary Jesus comes onto our home turf still teaching and still acting with great authority. As we struggle to come to grips with who he might be to us, and what that means in our search for a full, meaningful life, everyone has to ask the same authority question, “By what authority?” Jesus answers the question for us throughout scripture. Now each of us has to answer it for ourselves. For as with all authority, once we recognize the authority given to Him by God, then we are to ask another question of ourselves—will we submit to that authority? When we do, life takes on a deeper, fuller and healthier meaning. We no longer have to figure things out on our own—He is there to help us make the right decisions.
Instruction about Instruction
Pastor Tom Murray
Verse of the Day:
Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it,
but whoever respects a command is rewarded.
Proverbs 13:13 (NIV)
Research repeatedly shows that employees want feedback. People perform better if they sense their manager is engaged in their work. One study found that employees even performed better when they received negative feedback compared to those who received little or no feedback.
An incredible aspect of the Bible is that wisdom written thousands of years ago is just as valuable today.
Proverbs 13:13 tells us that it’s wise to act on the feedback we receive and that ignoring advice will hurt us.
"Whoever scorns instruction will pay for it, but whoever respects a command is rewarded” (NIV).
Every time we receive advice or instruction, we have a choice. We can act on the advice - or we can ignore it. Receiving advice with a cheerful attitude, but not doing anything about it is just about the same thing as ignoring it all together.
If you receive advice today from someone who has your best interest in mind, how are you likely to react?
The proverb is clear that one path is going to lead to a better outcome.
Are you in a position to give feedback?
Those of us in positions of leadership are wise to provide instruction to those who are in our sphere of influence, even though we do not have control over how that instruction will be received. Chances are, those who look up to you are craving your engagement in their work.
Seek and Save
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
The world has always been full of lost people. Before Jesus makes the proclamation that He has come to seek and to save the lost we meet a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus by his peer’s standards was considered scum and a traitor. He had chosen to work for the Romans as a tax collector and had become wealthy by gouging his fellow Jews. He wasn’t someone that had a lot of people lining up to be his friend or wanting to spend time with him. He was an outcast from his fellow people.
Despite his obvious flaws he had a desire to see Jesus. He fought his way through the crowds but still couldn’t see him and so He climbed a tree just to get a peek at Jesus. Jesus took notice of him and didn’t view him through the eyes of his peers seeing all of his shortcomings; He looked at him through the eyes of God the Father and saw him as another lost soul. He saw him as someone that He loved dearly that needed saving. Jesus saw potential & value in Zacchaeus that no one else saw.
How often do we write others off because of their shortcomings? We see all of the things that they have done wrong (or in a lot of cases continuing to do wrong) and we cut them out of our lives because we don’t want to deal with them. But each person that we write off is a person that is important to God. He came to seek and save ALL that are lost. Until Jesus comes back we are His representatives to reach out and minister to the lost regardless of how we view them. Jesus died for the sins of all, not just for the sins of the people we like. Is there anyone in your life that you view as an outcast? Ask God to help you to see them through His eyes and reach out today to show them His love.