Last year, we bought 25 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. That is way more cookies than our family needs or should eat! Why so many boxes? Well, you see, my husband is generous. If a little girl asked him to buy cookies, he bought some. Ever since I have known him, he loves to help others, see others reach their goals, and he just lives to bless those around him.
I believe we can all think of someone in our lives who lives a generous life. They are generous with their money, with their time, with their compliments, and with their talents. When a person lives this way, they are living exactly how this proverb says to live. God has blessed us abundantly and He has blessed us this way, so we can be a blessing to those around us. God also says, when we are generous people, we will prosper. Too many people are missing out on God’s blessings because they refuse to be generous.
When we have the realities of paying bills, a mortgage, car insurance, groceries, and the list goes on and on, it can become easy to become self-absorbed and look inward. Along with paying bills, we are often thinking about how we can save enough money for the next thing we want to buy. Maybe it’s a new car, or shoes, or the latest version of the phone we want. We can quickly become hardened to generosity when our primary focus is ourselves. However, this is not the way God wants us to live. He wants our focus to move from inward to outward. True happiness comes when we put pursuing our own desires to the side and begin living a life of generosity.
How is God speaking to you about being generous? Are you willing to pass along what God has given you, or are you trying to hold on to it all? Where is He asking you to stop looking inwardly and start looking outwardly? Pray and ask God today how you can begin to live a life of generosity.
Write it Down
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“At the Lord’s direction, Moses kept a written record of their progress. These are the stages of their march, identified by the different places where they stopped along the way.” (Numbers 33:2 NLT)
Some of the most interesting and insightful books to read are the published diaries and autobiographies of people who have lived before us. Its fun to get the behind the scenes view into their lives and to read about their personal struggles and victories. It’s a vantage point that we would never get to experience had they not written it down.
As we begin this chapter of the book of Numbers we are beginning to read the diary of the people of Israel while they are on the journey to the Promised Land. God had directed Moses to record the different stages of their journey along with all the places that they had stopped. It’s easy to pass over the verses that follow and wonder if there is any significance in them. These verses though are a testament to all the times that God was faithful to His Word and brought the Israelites out of the desert to the promise land. When they were stopped in the desert He never left them there, He always provided for them, and He showed them where to go next. Over a 40 year period of time it would have been easy for them to forget all the places and struggles that God brought them through had they not written it down.
There is value in writing down your story. We each have a unique story that is full of our own personal struggles and victories that God has brought us through. It is easy to forget the different stages of our journey and how far we have come. I would encourage you today to take some time to reflect on your journey and to write it down. It may not be a story that you ever share or publish but it will serve as a reminder of all the good that God has done in your life.
Full and Empty
Pastor Tom Murray
Verse of the day:
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Luke 4:1-2 (NIV)
Today, it is highly likely that you will desire to think, speak or act in a way that is unwise.
You know in your heart and mind what is for God and what is against Him. Yet, still you face temptation. You have an appetite for something that may be good for a moment or season - but, will ultimately hurt your relationship with other people and your Heavenly Father.
Be thankful today that you have a help in temptation.
Luke 4 recounts the temptation of Jesus.
"Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry” (v. 1-2 NLT).
The devil tried to entice Jesus to turn a stone into bread, worship the devil in exchange for the kingdoms of the world, and leap from the top of the temple.
Luke tells us Jesus was simultaneously full and empty. Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. Physically, He was empty. Jesus ate nothing and was hungry.
Whatever you face - being full of the Holy Spirit is the path to victory. You receive the Holy Spirit the moment you receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior (Romans 8:16). The Holy Spirit provides a far greater defense than any physical nourishment - guiding, empowering and protecting.
A relationship with Jesus proactively protects you from sin.
"Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested” (Hebrews 2:18).
Yes, you will face temptation. Yes, you will have victory over that temptation.
Your Future And Past Bloodline
Pastor Joshua Humpa
The book of Luke is unique amongst the Gospels because it dives into the details of Jesus' miracle birth deeper than the other 3. One of those special elements is the genealogy of Jesus, tying his ancestors to Judah, King David, Isaac, Abraham, Noah, and ultimately the first man Adam. This is so important for the messianic tie to Jesus because it gives proof of his eligibility and meets one of the essential qualifications needed. While we can pick out all star names like David and Abraham in this long list, it's mostly packed with unknown normal guys like Salmon and Admin.
Lets zero in on a random great great great great great (etc etc) grandfather of Jesus and pick - Jorim. All we know about Jorim is that his name means, exalt the Lord, and he was the son of Matthat. He could have done anything for a living, we know he had a relationship with some woman, and that he had a son named Eliezer. Something that did make him special was that his ancestor was King David, and there was a promise attached to that lineage.
It's hard to picture what our great great great great great grandchildren will be like. Do you know who your great great great great grandparents were? Most people don't know much about their ancestors beyond their grandparents and chances are our future grand kids won't know much about us. Yet, even without knowing us, the choices we make today will make an impact on who and what they become. If Jesus' super great grandfather Jorim had made terrible choices and messed up the family line it could have been disastrous for the promised Messiah. We don't know much about Jorim's life, but we do know that he was responsible for the birth of our savior. What kind of legacy do you want to create for your future family, whether they know you or not? Let's remember today that who we are and what we become doesn't effect just us, but our future family legacy as well and God wants to do powerful things through your bloodline.
A Servant Leader
Pastor Armin Colón
Verse of the day:
As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:15-16 ESV)
John was born to be someone important. He was a miracle baby. The only son of an old Levitical priest, Zachariah, and his wife, Elizabeth. His birth fulfilled a 700-year-old prophecy and it was announced to his parents by the angel Gabriel. He was born to be the first Old Testament style prophet in 400 years. He was a man full of faith. Although John was known as “the Baptist,” he did way more than just baptize people. He proclaimed the coming of the Messiah to a people who desperately needed a Savior.
As John grew in popularity, the people wondered whether he was the Messiah. He could’ve proclaimed himself Messiah. After all, it is so easy to be enamored by status. He could’ve sought fame, recognition, and power. He could’ve positioned himself to be the hero, the savior. You know, the one people read about in history books. Yet, at the height of his popularity, John remained a servant leader. He did not succumb to the desire for status. He chose to focus on his God and his calling to prepare the way for the Messiah.
A servant leader is one who has an accurate perception of his or her strengths and weaknesses. Rick Warren once said, “True humility (ie. servant leadership) is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” The servant leader seeks to exalt the name of Christ and not his or her own. Servant leadership doesn’t get much press. It is not glamorous. However, it is the only way to achieve true fulfillment in life.
In an era of celebrities, God is calling you to be a servant leader in your circle of influence.
You gotta love talking donkeys. From Winnie the Pooh’s pessimistic pal, Eeyore, to Quick Draw McGraw’s cartoon sidekick, Baba Looey, and of course the donkey in the movie, Shrek, with his positive, sensitive, talkative personality, and whose favorite food is Waffles! Donkeys....they make us smile.
Of course, donkeys can’t really talk!… or can they?
The Israelites were being led into the Promised Land by God and were commanded by God to destroy all of the current residents of that land. They had just finished their task of wiping out the Amorites and the Moabites were next. The people of Moab were terrified because there were so many Israelites. In fact, Moab was filled with panic because of the people of Israel.
Balak was the king of Moab, at the time. He was going to pay Balaam to put a curse on the Israelites. He asked for Balaam to come meet him. Balaam rode a donkey to go meet Balak. An angel of the Lord appeared to the donkey on his way, 3 times. Each time the donkey saw the angel and tried to turn away. He knew the Lord was against Balak. Each time the donkey turned away, Balaam beat the donkey to try to keep him moving forward. After the third time, the Lord opened the donkey's mouth and he talked to Balaam. It said to Balaam, “What have I done to you? Why did you hit me those three times?” The donkey and Balaam then have a conversation. Balaam sees the error of his ways and vows to say only what the Lord tells him to say.
This silly donkey knew better than Balaam to listen to God. In this story, we learn that God is a faithful God who keeps his promises. He made a covenant with Israel, and he kept it. We also learn that God can use anyone EVEN a donkey and a rebellious prophet to do his will and speak His truth and..... donkeys are a dependable source of transportation.
Complaints and Snakes
How Can We Hold on To Hope?
Zechariah’s response to the messenger angel Gabriel seems a little surprising. He had just been told that God had answered his prayers for a child and his wife Elizabeth would give birth to a son whom they were to name John. Instead of receiving this news with joy, Zechariah responded with doubt, even after he had been told everything he needed to know. However, looking further into the context of this moment may help us better understand how Zechariah became so skeptical.
Gabriel’s words to Zechariah may very well have been the first direct message God had given to any Israelite in nearly 400 years. Malachi was the last prophet God had sent to Israel and it would be Zechariah’s son, John the Baptist, who would be the next. As a priest, Zechariah and several generations before him lived daily longing for a fresh word from God, and not receiving one. It’s very likely that there were times when he and other Israelites felt like God was distant. Add to this the personal struggle of Zechariah and his wife being unable to have a child. By this point in their lives, they had probably come to accept that they weren’t going to be parents, yet the longing remained. Facing these challenges would lead many to become doubtful. So how can a person hold on to hope after facing so much disappointment?
Like Zechariah, we might find ourselves struggling to find hope after battling numerous challenges. One thing we must remember is to not allow our circumstances to define our view of Christ. His goodness, love and grace remain unchanged regardless of our current personal situation. Remembering this will help us to know that God is with us through life challenges and He always wants the best for us. And let’s not forget to remember the many times God has provided for us on a daily basis. Zechariah’s doubt resulted in God closing his mouth until 8 days after his son’s birth. He had to listen as others marveled at a miracle that God had given him. Let’s always leave room for God to do the unexpected in our lives because when He does, we want to lead in celebrating with joy, not sitting on the sidelines in silence.
Thankful for Grace
Verse of the Day:
“From now on, no Israelites except priests or Levites may approach the Tabernacle. If they come too near, they will be judged guilty and will die.” (Numbers 18: 22)