Verse of the day:
Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. (Genesis 37:3)
Every parent who has more than one child quickly learns that their kids want equal treatment. If one child gets a new toy the other wants the same new toy. If one child gets to order a lemonade at the restaurant the other child also wants to order lemonade. We can think their insistence is childish yet there is Biblical precedent to heed.
Showing favoritism is not considered a serious sin by most people because it comes so naturally to us; we do it without even knowing it. The consequences of partiality usually aren’t immediate but they will build and simmer until there is an eruption like in Genesis 37.
Jacob had twelve sons, and of those he had an obvious favorite—Joseph. Based on the godliness and wisdom exhibited throughout Joseph’s life, Jacob probably had good reason to favor Joseph. He had many godly qualities that should be valued.
But by making Joseph a special multicolored coat to signify that favoritism, Jacob was flaunting his partiality in the rest of his sons’ faces. The issue was made worse by Jacob’s giving Joseph authority over his brothers while they roughed it in the wilderness as shepherds. The growing resentment among Joseph’s siblings was hardly surprising. A gigantic wedge had been driven between him and his brothers, who longed to be rid of the well-dressed and privileged Joseph. In short, Jacob’s partiality towards Joseph triggered a disastrous chain of events.
Playing favorites always seems innocent enough until it comes back to burn you.
In doing funerals I’ve noticed a trend: healthy, united families will usually say about the deceased mom or dad: ‘they treated us like we were each special’ or ‘they made each of us feel like we were the only one.’ My grandma Brooks made a point of saying she loved each of her 12 kids the same. That’s a wise way to live.
Sweet, Sweet Slumber
Have you ever lost a night's sleep due to fear or worry?
Proverbs 3:24 reads “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.” Sweet!! What a blessing it is to have a sense of security and peace as you go to bed. That is what God promises to those who base their lives upon His wisdom and Word.
However, there are some instructions for us to follow in order to have that sweet, sweet slumber. We must not let wisdom and understanding out of our sight; we must preserve sound judgment and discretion (Proverbs 3:21). God will give us wisdom if we seek it prayerfully and we need to apply that wisdom to our daily life. To have discretion means to have or show discernment or good judgment. Now, how do we get such things? We get them by being in God’s Word, reading and learning from God to see things the way that He sees them.
If we follow these instructions, there is no fear. No regrets haunt us. Sleep is sweet for the wise and discreet. Sleep is sweet when everything is alright with you and God.
What burdens you?
Verse of the day:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)
Jesus spoke the soothing words of Matthew 11: 28-30 to crowds in the region of Galilee, where He and most of the twelve disciples grew up. Earlier in the same speech, Jesus had given out quite the tongue-lashing. He called the people out for not recognizing the significance of John The Baptist, whose sole purpose was to announce the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. He also laid into several nearby towns for rejecting His message and miracles, telling one city that its judgment would be harsher than the destruction of Sodom (ouch)!
Many of the residents of towns in the Galilee region lived off fishing and agriculture. Few of them where as educated as the religious teachers and other societal elites who lived within or closer to Jerusalem. They, and many other Jews, were overburdened by the excessive and unrealistic expectations of the religious laws that the Pharisees and High Priests put in place. The message of Jesus offered them freedom. Yet, many of them still wanted to hold on to their life of living by the law even though it was crushing them. Imagine the frustration Jesus had in seeing this!
Which of the burdens of our lives would frustrate Jesus when he saw us carrying them? If you haven’t given your life to Christ, trying to find hope and meaning without Him is an impossible load to bear. If you have given your lives to Christ, you can still make the mistake of thinking there is actually some area of your life that doesn’t need His help. This too, is a heavy load. Jesus came to offer rest, which isn’t simply a pause from labor. Jesus does call us to bear some burdens, like helping others in need (Gal. 6:2). Yet, He gives us wisdom about which loads we should help lift and He also gives us the ability to carry them. The rest he offers brings love, healing and peace.
Let’s ask God for wisdom and endurance to bear the right burdens while leaving the wrong ones behind.
Pastor Stephanie Humpa
Verse of the day:
“Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)
Recently I was on an early morning flight that required my family to be at the airport at 4am. As we boarded the plane most everyone around settled in for the flight and got comfortable to go to sleep. Flying with 2 small children pretty much ensures that I will not be sleeping on a plane anytime soon so I was awake and able to over hear one of the few conversations taking place on the plane.
Across the aisle from me there were two ladies flying alone who had struck up a conversation. It didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to spiritual things and I listened as one of the ladies used her early morning opportunity to share the gospel with the lady next to her. By the end of the flight they had exchanged numbers and a seed had been planted into this lady’s life. I was so excited as I sat there and listened to this woman living out her faith boldly at 5am. She was not ashamed of her relationship with Christ and was going to make the most of an opportunity.
This is how we are to live. Boldly. There is a lot of pressure to hide our faith. What we believe doesn’t always jive with culture but we bring a message of hope and love that the world around us desperately needs. We must live boldly. Christ says that if we deny Him here He will deny us in Heaven.
Can you imagine anything worse than being denied by our loving savior? Who needs to see your love for Christ boldly on display today?
Verse of the Day:
Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. (Proverbs 3:13-15 NLT)
As a child we study our textbooks and expect our teachers to provide us with the wisdom needed to pass the years’ tests. As a teenager we study our drivers ed book and expect our parents to take us out driving to gain wisdom needed to pass our road test. As young adults we study our abilities and basic skills to gain wisdom in choosing the right field of study and or career. As adults we expect our realtors to provide us with wisdom needed when purchasing a home. Different stages of life yet seeking something constant, wisdom.
Although the sought out wisdom mentioned above is appropriate we need to be sure it’s not the sole source of wisdom we seek or expect. Our wisdom should first be sought by seeking the first form of Godly wisdom. THE Bible! Imagine just needing to carry around ONE, NEVER changing book to provide you with ALL the wisdom you need as a child, teenager, young adult and Elder!
How much more appealing could God make the Bible that we seek the wise words He’s spoken in it? He died to have an everlasting relationship with us! The type of relationship that promotes peace when we’re walking in righteousness and conviction when we’re walking in unrighteousness. Righteousness promoted when we’ve sought Godly wisdom, unrighteousness promoted when we’ve sought earthly wisdom.
Today make time to take inventory of where and whom you’re seeking wisdom from and know the never changing Bible is ALWAYS available!
Get Up and Follow Him
Verse of the Day:
“As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.” (Matthew 9:9)
Have you ever talked yourself out of doing something you knew you should have done…something you knew God wanted you to do? Have you ever felt underqualified, insecure, overwhelmed, or too busy for the task? Was there something you knew you should have done, but fear consumed you?
When the Holy Spirit prompts us to do something, our response should be just like Matthew’s…obedience. Jesus said, “follow me” and Matthew, “got up and followed him.” There wasn’t hesitation or excuses. He didn’t provide a whole list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified or even stop to balance his tax books; he just followed. You see, Jesus doesn’t need us all cleaned up and perfect to use us, or to have it all together. No, Jesus wants to use us where we are. He doesn’t require perfection, He requires action, He wants our obedience. As we step out in obedience, He is faithful to be with us and equip us. And as we continue to walk in obedience, He will refine us and shape us to become more like Him.
The Holy Spirit will speak to us during the ordinariness of our lives. As we move throughout our day, our prayer should be to stay alert to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then to respond without delay. What is God asking you to do? What burden has He laid on your heart? Who is someone God is wanting you to reach out to? The only fear we should have is being disobedient to God. Let this year be the year of action, a year where we “get up and follow Him.”
Your Future Self Thanks You
Pastor Joshua Humpa
I love a good McDonald’s McDouble. One hamburger patty sandwiched between two slices of yellow cheese. It’s cheap, it’s quick, it’s salty and just straight up good. Have you ever been to Mason Street Grill? Perhaps my favorite steak joint in Milwaukee. Last year I received a large gift card for the restaurant and went with a friend to feast like kings. We ordered the juiciest, most tender steaks you’ve ever had topped with blue cheese and mushrooms. Let me tell you, even though my McDouble and my steak are both beef, there’s no comparison which one is better in quality.
In today’s Old Testament reading, we come across the famous passage of Esau selling his invaluable birthright to his brother for soup. Just pause for a second - soup. Not even a delicious, tender steak. Most likely a broth based soup.
The birthright was given to the eldest son of the family. An honor and privilege to become the head of the family once the father had passed away. That meant being responsible for the family’s choices, members, finances, and being blessed with a special connection to God. Esau traded all of that - his entire future - for soup.
Looking back at his choices, we can’t help but think, “You dumb dumb!” Yet, how many times have we sold our future selves short because of an enticing desire in the moment. How many times have we reached for the McDouble when the best steak was within reach? It’s easy to make choices that bring instant fulfillment, but those choices can lead to future regret. Your future self that you want to become thanks you for the wise choices you’re making today. The future you that you dread becoming is looking back at your foolish choices in agony. Even in the most desperate times of temptation, hold on to the future God has for you instead of settling for the small cup of soup before you now.
To The Ones Left Behind
Pastor Dan Wootton
I hope you didn’t miss our Year End Block Party here at Oak Creek Assembly. If you did . . . well . . . you have 12 months to plan for the next one. I spent part of the evening as a cashier in our café. Barbiere’s breadsticks are from heaven. (They’re more like breadbricks than breadsticks. I’m just saying. If a pig built a house out of Barbiere’s breadsticks, it wouldn’t blow down, and it would be delicious.)
A lady approached the counter, and I asked her if she was looking forward to 2019. She wasn’t. This was her first Christmas without her husband. The heartbreak was beyond what she had anticipated. We prayed together, and then five minutes later, another woman asked me, “Can I tell you something? I don’t like to talk about it, but I want someone to know that my husband died last year. I’m doing okay, but I just want someone to know.” She quickly changed the subject as someone else approached the counter.
Every healthy individual has the desire to live, and yet, when we lose someone close to us, we can often feel left behind. Abraham felt the disorienting sting of loss when his wife Sarah passed away at the age of 127. He was a foreigner in an unknown land, and now, he was alone. Genesis chapter 23 tells a story of empathy and generosity. The native people offer hospitality and their very land to console Abraham in his loss. It is a picture of how we should respond to those in our community.
While I was sitting at the cashier’s desk, God raised my awareness for the ones left behind. I encourage you to reach out today to those you know. Express your love, and offer your support. In the kingdom of God, no one should be left behind.
God of the Hills and Valleys