Pastor Shawn Follis
Have you ever had a secret? Something you did not want anyone else to know about? Yet it was like a fire inside your mouth that you just had to share with someone. So you find that person you trust and you lean in close and whisper.
Rarely with God do we have loud moments; sure there are times that the thunder crashes on the mountains and the storms rage around us however most of the times that God speaks it is in the stillness and quietness of life. God whispers more than he shouts. If you are going to hear a whisper, then you have to be up close. You have to come in nice and tight. Your ear almost kissed by their lips. Whispers are intimate.
When we are walking with God, I find, he rarely shouts directions. Usually his spirit leads with gentle nudges. It is as if two people are walking along together. When one want to steer them to the right or left they just lean in that direction. When we walk along with God, his spirit nudges us in the right choices and decisions of life. So it is vitally important that we live up close to him. We need to position ourselves right next to where he is moving so we can be near enough to hear the whispers and feel the gentle nudges.
How close are you living with God today? He is inviting you to come in close. Take the time today to make sure that you pull yourself in tight. Embrace your relationship with God, see where he is moving and then get to work. Through closeness we will also find purpose and fullness. Come in Close today.
Quick To Listen, Slow To Speak
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19)
My two year old daughter loves to talk. She talks non stop and it's really funny. Just about every time we drive, she's talking from the moments she sits her car seat to the moment we arrive at our destination. When she doesn't know what to say she asks us, "What are you doing?" followed by, "Why?" It's hilarious to interact with this little two year old that's just on the cusp of communication.
If you want to be better at the way you communicate with people, having less arguments and being understood more, take heed to the words of James. Be quick to listen, slow to speak. It's such powerful wisdom but is so difficult to implement. Most times, our arguments escalate because we want to be heard and feel like we're not getting our point across. Slow to speak, quick to listen.
When I interact with the wisest people I know, they don this task so well. It's part of what makes them so wise! I'm eager to know what they're thinking because most times they take a few seconds to respond. To practice this habit, intentionally wait a second or two before responding instead of jumping at the earliest beat to speak. With practice, this wisdom can become a natural habit. This principal isn't put in the Bible for nothing - God wants us to have better communication with those around us. Increase your communication effectiveness by listening more and speaking less quickly.
Know the condition of your herds…
Pastor Jon Brooks
Verse of the day:
Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. (Proverbs 27:23-24)
I always enjoy the times when we get to visit my wife’s family in Nebraska. Her late grandpa, along with several uncles and cousins have been raising livestock, looking after nearly 1,000 cattle at a time. It’s a daunting task during every season and there’s no such thing as a day off. So this proverb must just apply to ranchers and not to the rest of us, right?
You and I may not have cows and sheep in our backyards, but we have been entrusted with resources. Are we keeping up the home God has allowed us to live in? Are we being faithful in the ongoing maintenance of our vehicles? Are we living with margin, choosing to spend below our means so that we are accumulating savings for an emergency, kid’s college and retirement? We rightfully talk about the dangers of greed and pursing money at all cost, but it is also wrong to be lazy and neglectful.
If my relatives were to stop working in the flocks for just one day there would be consequences. The barn would overflow with waste, animals wouldn’t get fed, grass would get worn out and disease could spread undetected. Solomon encourages you and I to be diligent and faithful with what has been entrusted to us. What area of your life needs your attention today?
“Sweeping the Closet Clean”
Pastor Ken Beach
Verse of the day:
Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. (Hebrews 12:14-15 NLT)
Many of us have let, not only a day go by with anger in our heart against someone, but also weeks, months, and even years. Let’s be honest: time does not heal all wounds. The passing of time often hardens anger into bitterness. As we replay someone’s offense over and over in our minds, it grows in importance and in the pain it has caused us.
God warns us that harboring resentment in our hearts is playing into the devil’s schemes. Stored up bitterness may explode one day into verbal abuse or worse. God tells us to grasp his peace instead of growing and watering bitter and hateful thoughts. Those thoughts will not only rob you of joy in your life, but they can also bring harm to your friends and family—even though they are not the root cause of your anger.
And then there is the warning in verse 14, “…work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” That alone should be motivation enough to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in your circumstance—making life giving changes.
Ultimately, Jesus and His grace is the only way to move beyond the struggles that bitterness brings—to lift that weight off your shoulders—bringing you His peace.
So today, let God’s peace shine its light into that closet of bitterness—showing you how to clean it out—sweeping it clean once and for all. Then thank God for letting go of all your sins against Him and anyone you have harbored bitterness against, (in doing so, He shows us how we are supposed to live).
You will experience a new beginning.
Faith & Action
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.” (Hebrews 11:30)
I love reading through chapter 11 of the book of Hebrews. It is often referred to as the “Hall of Faith.” Reading through it is like walking through a museum and stopping to reflect on all the great things that God has done through these individuals.
Each short narrative begins by saying, “It was by faith…” Faith was necessary to their success. Hebrews 11: 1-2 tells us “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” Faith requires stepping out. Its belief that God will come through even if in the natural we don’t see how. Can you imagine being the people of Israel marching around your enemies’ fortified walls every day for a week? This wasn’t something that they had seen done before. God had told them that the walls would fall if they walked around each day but it still required stepping out in faith to do it.
Faith requires action from us. As you read through the Hall of Faith these people found themselves in this chapter because they did something with their faith. Faith is not just thoughts going through your head it is action. Often faith requires us to step out into something new and unfamiliar. (Again, walking around the walls of Jericho was very new and unfamiliar!) How is God challenging you to live out your faith today?
The Harvest of Your Tears
Pastor Armin Colón
Verse of the day:
“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:36 (NLT)
According to Oliver Hill, an American author, the Darby Family caught the gold fever in the gold-rush days. So they went west to dig. After weeks of hard work, they found gold. They promptly raised the money needed for the venture and purchased the equipment needed. Then, they went back to work. As it turns out, they had found one of the richest mines in Colorado! They were going to be rich!
One day out of nowhere, the vein of gold disappeared! They desperately drilled on, all to no avail. Finally, they decided to quit. They sold the machinery and went home.
The man who purchased the machines – with the guidance of a mining engineer – calculated that the vein would be found just three feet from where the Darby Family had stopped drilling. Needless to say, this man made millions off this mine!
Like the Darby Family, you may also be tempted to give up. You’ve been waiting for so long and you’re tired of waiting. “If this is the way God is going to treat me, I’m not going to follow Him! This isn’t the deal that I signed up for! So I might as well pack up and go home!”
Don’t give up! Instead choose to dig three feet more. Since you’ve already endured so much, don’t give up now. This isn’t the time to turn back. This is the time to patiently endure.
“Don’t miss the harvest of your tears” (F.B. Meyer).
Pastor Shawn Follis
Verse of the day:
“A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences. " (Proverbs 27:12 NLT)
Since we live in Wisconsin, we appreciate our weather persons. From the months of November through March, we watch with anticipation for the sign of white on the radar map. Each day we check to see if the forecast will bring us a change in the weather. We must plan how we will dress, what time we will depart for school or work and so much more based upon what so stranger says about the weather. We love our weather person when they are right, but loath them when they miss the predictions.
Now, I am sure there are people that just go. They don’t pay attention to what is coming. They just try and take life as it comes. However, if you have ever been traveling and run into a sudden storm, where snow and ice threaten to strand you, you think twice about what shoes you have on and if your coat is actually in the car. Today’s verse says that it is foolish to go through life blindly, never looking forward to see what is coming.
Whether it is saving for college, preparing for major life transition (like retirement or even job relocation) or even just keeping an eye on your day to day life, it pays to look ahead. We cannot just go through life with our eye looking to the next step. If we do, we may not see dangers that are ahead.
That is one of the things that I appreciate about our heavenly father. He has vision. He has perspective to see where we are going and what lies ahead. Some of the trials that we go through have nothing to do with our today, but they are God’s way of preparing us for the storm that is ahead. Each day we much make the effort to tune into our life forecaster. We need to see what the spiritual radar of the spirit sees coming and we need to trust in his forecast. He is no stranger on the television, but he is our father. He loves us and wants us to live abundant lives.
So take time today to sit and listen to the forecast. Tune into see what your father sees coming. Talk to him about things that you think may be on the horizon. As you do, you will be able to prepare. And when the unexpected storm pops up, don’t fear, he will see you through.
Jesus Paid It All, Once And For All
Pastor Joshua Humpa
Verse of the Day:
So also Christ was offered once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
I love a good object lesson to help get a message across. We do a lot of object lessons at church as we teach the kids, and recently did one on a Sunday morning to teach the kids about Jesus paying the price for our sins.
The object lesson began with a kid coming on stage and me telling all of the kids that I had just visited an old antique store with loads of incredibly valuable relics. After sharing with the nice, old lady working at this store about what we were doing in Kids Church, she said I could borrow a glass vase that belonged to her to show the kids. This vase was hundreds of years old and was made with the most delicate, handcrafted detail. In actuality, it was a $2.99 glass vase from Goodwill, but we needed the detail for the emotional punch coming at the end of the lesson. I asked our volunteer child on stage to hold the vase as I hurriedly placed it in their hands. Would you believe it, the vase fell out of the kids hands and smashed on the stage into a hundred tiny pieces. There the child stood - bewildered that they just let an extremely expensive and meaningful item slip through their fingers, smashed in front of all of their friends.
What the child didn’t know is that I planned for the vase to fall and placed it in their hands so that it would fall. In shock, I explained to the kids how awful this was going to be! How could I go back to this sweet old lady and explain that we broke her family heirloom? Our volunteer was embarrassed and nervous. I explained to the child that they were the one responsible for breaking this vase and they would have to be the one to pay the lady back. I told them that she was a nice lady and probably would be understanding that it was an accident, but someone still needed to pay her back! To end the child’s horror, I explained that the vase was worth $700 and they couldn’t leave church until they paid me so I could pay the lady.
After letting the kid squirm for a little bit, I pulled the kid in for a side hug and began to tell them how awesome I think they are. I chose them to come on stage because I trust them and know how careful they are. Finally, I told the child that I would pay the price of the vase for them. They could go home, their debt completely paid for by someone else. Of course, the kid was filled with gratitude, even giving a giant hug!
On a grander scale, that’s what Jesus did for us. While we sinned and completely ruined the plan He had for our lives, He was willing to give up His life and pay our debt so that He could rescue us from eternity in Hell and instead be with Him forever. Jesus paid the price for our sins so that we didn’t have to, once and for all. That’s why we obey Him and dedicate our lives to Him - because we owe everything to Him. We love God because He first loved us. Aren’t you grateful for a Savior who would willingly and happily give up everything so that you could be rescued?
Friends Closer Than a Brother
Pastor Jon Brooks
Verse of the day:
Never abandon a friend—either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away. (Proverbs 27:10 NLT)
From time to time I’ll receive a phone call asking if the church has a moving ministry. I reply that we don’t have a formal moving ministry but that I’m certain that their friends in the church will be more than happy to help them move. I ask them to think of all the people that they’ve helped out, all the friends that they’ve invested in, and I encourage them to reach out to these friends for help with moving.
It’s interesting the responses I get. Most often the person will reply that they don’t have any friends and they haven’t helped anyone else. To which I finally say ‘Good luck with your move!’
As Christians we should be able and willing to help anyone, even complete strangers. Yet Solomon is explaining how life actually works most of the time. Friendship is an investment that reaps great rewards.